Project Guggenheim Exterior Restoration
Funders Peter B. Lewis
The Board of Trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of New York
State of New York
MAPEI Corporation
MuseumOps Team Member Richard Cherry
Budget $27,000,000
Location 1071 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY
Completion 2008
Size 80,000 SF
Architect Wank Adams Slavin Associate LLP Architecture
Conservation Engineers Integrated Conservation Resources
Structural Engineers Robert Silman Associates Structural Engineers

    I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.

    ― Frank Lloyd Wright

During the period from December 2004 through September 2008, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum underwent a $27,000,000 exterior restoration. Before that, only minor repairs had been made to the exterior and the building had been repainted several times, as evidenced by up to eleven layers of paint.

A comprehensive documentation and monitoring program consumed the first 18 months of the project. The paint was systematically removed and analyzed and every crack was carefully documented. The interior of the building was laser scanned to create a virtual 3D model. Digital sensors were installed across cracks and monitored for more than a year to capture the full freeze-thaw cycle and data including the temperature and relative humidity, both within the shotcrete walls and at the interior of the museum was also collected. The data was eventually loaded into the 3D model to understand the movements of the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) building.

Several cores, at key locations in the in-situ internal and external Gunite walls and reinforcing fins, were drilled and extracted to examine the state of the reinforcing rebar and wire and destructively tested to evaluate the strength of the concrete.  Non-destructive evaluation located the remaining embedded steel. Tests were run on mock-ups were a variety of potential coatings and structural solutions were comprehensively evaluated.

Extensive research, involving the conservation and digitization of the museum’s archives, including original construction drawings (with hand notes by FLW), hand-colored sketches by FLW, specifications and shop drawings, historic construction photographs and even a very rare 16mm film, featuring FLW touring the museum while it was under construction. Other records from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s materials available at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, were also reviewed. revealed historic construction photographs and volumes of correspondence, as well as original construction drawings, specifications and shop drawings.

The construction restoration program that followed, restored the exterior, upgraded the HVAC infrastructure, added structural reinforcement using carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) applied to the interior of the museum and replaced the single-glazed windows and skylights with energy efficiency replicas.

2008 SEAoNY Distinction in Structural Engineering Award
2008 New York Landmarks Conservancy Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award
2009 Preservation League of New York State Excellence in Historic Preservation Award
2009 ACEC NY Engineering Excellence Platinum Award
2009 International Concrete Repair Institute Award of Excellence for Excellence in the Repair of Low Rise Structures