75 Henry Street was in between Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) cycles, when its management company and the board noticed some cracks in a few of the 33-story co-op's balconies. Instead of putting it off until their next mandated inspection, they decided to investigate, and hired RAND to perform an evaluation of its balconies as a precaution.
As part of our evaluation, we initially conducted a visual inspection of the building's balconies, which are steel reinforced concrete and date back to 1968, when the building was constructed. Through binoculars, we observed cracks and peeling paint along corner and edge concrete surfaces of the balconies, which are the areas most vulnerable to deterioration. Balcony railing posts that penetrate directly through concrete curbs create weak points throughout balcony perimeters, particularly at the corners. At these weaker points, periodic and ongoing corner concrete cracking is common.
We then performed a hands-on evaluation, hammer-sounding every curb (the outside edge) of each balcony and found that the steel reinforcement was very close to the surface, making the concrete curbs more vulnerable to cracks and spalls.
Based on our findings, we designed a repair program which included: removing and replacing sections of the concrete curbs, including casting new curbs and hammering back existing steel or adding new steel; repairing and securing balcony railing posts; patching the undersides of damaged balconies; and coating all balcony surfaces with a weather-resistant BASF protective coating system.
Despite the scope of the project — approximately 85% of the balconies needed repairs — the work went smoothly without major surprises and was completed within six months.
While these issues would have been eventually discovered during the building's next Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) inspection, the management company and board's proactive response ensured that the structural integrity of the balconies and the safety of its residents and passersby below were maintained.
For more on this project, see the article in Habitat Magazine.
Brett Rieger is a Project Manager on RAND's Facade and Roofing Team.