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Statue of Liberty update brings patrons closer to the action

Statue of Liberty update brings patrons closer to the action

While past renovation and restoration work on Liberty Island received more fanfare, the latest update arguably has had a greater impact on the three million people that visit the monument each year.


By David Barista, Editor-in-Chief | October 15, 2013
A yearlong renovation effort at Liberty Island involved inserting two staircases
A yearlong renovation effort at Liberty Island involved inserting two staircases and an elevator in the statues pedestal struct

While past renovation and restoration work on Liberty Island received more fanfare—particularly the tedious rebuilding of Lady Liberty’s copper skin in the mid- 1980s—the latest update arguably has had a greater impact on the three million people that visit the monument each year. What started out as a straightforward fire and life safety upgrade to bring the entire site up to code turned into a much grander mission for the Building Team: to improve the overall experience for visitors.

The scope of the project included the insertion of two enclosed exit staircases and an emergency evacuation elevator in the statue’s pedestal to replace outdated infrastructure, construction of two exit stairs from the terreplein at the base of the pedestal, and upgrades to all visitor facilities.

At each step of the project, the team factored visitor experience into its design solutions. The new pedestal staircases, for instance, were configured to offer more intimate views of the structure’s massive concrete walls and riveted steel members. 

STATUE OF LIBERTY NATIONAL MONUMENT
New York, N.Y.

Building Team 
Submitting firm: Mills + Schnoering Architects (architect) 
Owner: National Park Service 
Structural engineer: Keast & Hood 
MEP engineer: Joseph R. Loring & Associates 
Construction manager: Atkins North America 
General contractor: Joseph A. Natoli Construction
 
General Information 
Size: 52,790 sf 
Construction time: October 2011 to October 2012 
Delivery method: Design-bid-build

The team utilized laser scanning and BIM modeling to determine the optimal arrangement of the winding staircases and elevator shaft within the confined space. Their goal: to get as close as possible to the historic elements while still meeting fire/life safety and program requirements. In one section of the facility, for example, the bottom of an Eiffel steel beam forms the ceiling of the enclosed staircase, allowing patrons to reach up and touch the beam and its fasteners. High-efficiency lighting was used throughout to highlight the historic fabric and elements.

Complicating the project were the logistics of material and equipment delivery. Everything required for the project, including the labor force, had to be shipped by boat from Jersey City, N.J., and screened by the U.S. Park Police on every trip. All deliveries had to be scheduled in advance to ensure that USPP personnel and K9 teams were available. Stabilizing admixtures had to be added to the concrete to delay the curing process during the 35-minute barge ride. Once on Liberty Island, materials and equipment were moved by crane to four access points around the pedestal and carefully maneuvered inside the structure through the standard-size doors.

“Between working in the confined, historically sensitive spaces and managing the logistics of getting everything to the island, the team deserves this award,” said judge Daniel L. Doyle, PE, LEED AP O+M, President of Grumman/Butkus Associates (www.grummanbutkus.com).

 

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