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Woolworth Building
Inves t i gat i on and Repa i r of Ter ra Cot ta C l add i ng
Designed by Cass Gilbert and completed in 1913, theWoolworth Building in New York City was the tallest building in the world until 1931. When
pieces of the terra cotta facade fell into a courtyard of this historic landmark, WJE was engaged as a technical consultant for the repair and restoration of
the building envelope. WJE performed all field and laboratory testing, and provided design and construction phase services during the remedial work.
As technical consultant, WJE developed and utilized several groundbreaking investigative methods, including strain relief testing, to diagnose
causes of distress. Repair of the terra cotta at the Woolworth Building remains one of the most noteworthy building envelope rehabilitations ever
undertaken—in terms of both the magnitude of the project and the importance of the building.
Notes of Interest
• TheWoolworth Building was commissioned in 1910 by
Frank W. Woolworth, the head of a multi-million dollar
chain of five-and-ten-cent stores. Woolworth wanted the
headquarters building to reflect not only the company’s
success, but the success of twentieth-century commerce
as well.
• Praised for its “success of scale,” the fifty-story building
featured high ceilings averaging eleven to twenty feet tall,
making it the equivalent of an eighty-story high-rise
• The building is also highly ornate, with a cruciform
lobby and extensive sculpture that graces the yellow
marble interior, including medieval caricatures of
Woolworth counting his dimes and Cass Gilbert
cradling a model of the building.
This was the company’s first major architectural project, leading to establishment of the Architecture
group and development of a major practice area. – Jerry Stockbridge
This project established our reputation in historic building facades, and is one of the earliest examples
of providing plans and specifications to implement our recommendations. – Gary Klein
An early, outstanding example of the multidisciplinary approach (engineering, architecture,
and materials science) that WJE has successfully used on many high profile and important facade
restoration and preservation projects. – Bill Nugent
WJE 50 Years