Stone in Architecture / Renovation/Restoration

Boston hotel restoration is highlighted by marble

October 1, 2012
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Located in Boston’s historic Back Bay, the Fairmont Copley Plaza has stood alongside the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church and Hancock Tower as one the architectural landmarks of Copley Square since 1912. As part of the hotel’s 100th anniversary renovation project, Stuart Dean worked to restore some of the building’s classic stonework.

The hotel’s original architect, Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, combined French and Venetian Renaissance influences on the building. “The grand architectural features of the Fairmont Copley Plaza and similar hotels are a link to the past and provide cities such as Boston with a sense of romance otherwise missing from new construction,” said Cynthia Maley, General Manager, New England at Stuart Dean. “[We] are proud to restore the architectural details and irreplaceable 100-year-old materials, which contribute to the historic significance of the hotel,” she continued.

Prior to the renovation, the marble surfaces in the guest bathrooms and staircases were dull from years of everyday use and deterioration, and the grout was in need of replacement. Most of the work is confined to the hotel’s 384 guest bathrooms, but it also includes a staircase from the lobby to fifth floor, and a staircase leading to the health spa. Noir Saint Laurent and Botticino Classico marble were used for the flooring, walls and stairs.

“The historic nature of the building required great care on the part of our technicians,” Maley said. “We were working with century-old architectural appointments that carry a historical value beyond just the material itself. Our advanced processes and products restore natural stone and other architectural appointments and protect surfaces from further damage.” Another challenge was enabling the hotel to remain open throughout the project, which was accomplished by completing the restoration in zones.

“The owner of the hotel and general contractor were very pleased with the completed work on the guest room floors and stairwells,” Maley said. “As a result, after the completion of the restoration of the upper floors and stairwells, Stuart Dean received a call from the general contractor that during the lobby demolition; they uncovered the original marble mosaic floor and asked Stuart Dean if they had any suggestions. The following day, Stuart Dean provided a sample of the floor restored to its original condition.”

In restoring the mosaic, Stuart Dean worked to strip the old carpet mastic, and remove the old mortars and floor leveler. The company also worked to repair chips in the marble with an epoxy filler. “The mosaic floor was discovered on a Thursday, a mock-up sample was completed on Friday, and restoration began on Saturday. The hotel had a wedding booked for the following Saturday, so Stuart Dean had five men working 12-hour shifts to complete the work by Friday, for a total of seven days,” Maley said.

Stuart Dean used a floor stripper and 60 grit screens to remove the old mastic, and hand-chiseled to remove old mortar and floor leveler. To match the existing color, they filled in all missing marble chips with an epoxy filler and tinted it while using a dremel to create new grout lines. In addition, Stuart Dean diamond-honed from a 120-grit finish to an 800-grit finish, and then polished and burnished the surface with a crystallizer.

“Our 100th anniversary has proven to be one of the most exciting times in the history of the Fairmont Copley Plaza,” said Paul S. Tormey, Regional Vice President and General Manager. “This significant investment in the hotel includes a renovation of all guestrooms and suites, with special attention paid to the architectural details and historic significance of the hotel. That’s where skilled technicians from Stuart Dean came in. It takes expertise and experience to restore irreplaceable 100-year-old materials.”

The reaction from everyone involved – the owner, general contractor, public and hotel staff – has been extremely positive. While they were originally going to cover this area of the floor with a rug, the original mosaic floor has been restored to its original condition and on display for everyone to see. The restoration began in the fall of 2011 and was completed in time for the hotel’s centennial celebration in the summer of 2012.              

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