Manhattan renovation relies on customized stonework

March 1, 2004
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Amidst the hustle and bustle of Midtown Manhattan, the Jack Resnick and Sons Building connects the addresses 110 East 59th Street and 111 East 58th Street. The office building has recently been renovated to carry a more modern feel, and the exterior and interior both used natural stone from Walker Zanger of Mt. Vernon, NY.

The building has two entrances, one on 58th Street and the other on 59th Street, creating its own little niche between two prestigious New York City thoroughfares, Park and Lexington Avenues.

Originally designed in 1968 by architect William Lescaze & Associates, the building was ready for some modernization in October 1999, when the first steps were taken to begin the renovation. The late-1960s building needed a fresh new look, bringing it up to speed with the times. “The building was simply outdated,” explained restoration architect Bill Leggio of William Leggio Architects in New York, NY. “The lobby was the same as it was when it was designed in 1968 and needed to be brought into the 21st century. The new design provides a long feature wall that connected the two outdoor plazas that were used as a through lobby from street to street.”

Walking up to the northern building entrance - 110 East 59th Street - a short stairway leads to the first of the two entrances to the Resnick building. The stairs and handicap ramp, which are located to the right of the entrance, are thick, solid Zimbabwe Black granite. Stepping down the stairs to the exterior flooring, the Zimbabwe Black continues in a predetermined pattern that - to the unsuspecting eye - looks random. To the left of the exterior, at the 59th Street entrance, a new wall resides, complementing the interior design. “A panel of nine pieces of Impala Black marble with a flamed finish for texture, was used to create the majority of the wall, which then transitions into a honed finish,” said Jamie Haskel of Walker Zanger. “Azul Cielo marble is used to accent the Impala Black, bordering the 9-piece wall. The black columns that are placed in the front of the building are the originals, but some pieces were replaced.”

Moving through the revolving doors into the 110-foot-long lobby, natural stone is present to the left, right and the floor. “The right wall is Azul Cielo marble from Argentina,” said Haskel. “It is a crystalline marble with a name that means 'blue sky.' Each slab of Azul Cielo is 4 feet, 6 inches x 4 feet, 6 inches except the bottom row that measures 4 feet, 6 inches x 3 feet, 6 inches.” On either side of the entrances, there are two grill frames on the bottom row of the Azul Cielo. “After the blocks were chosen, the grill frames were cut out of the slabs,” explained Haskel. “On the top of the wall, a band of Impala Black marble slabs measure 1 foot, 4 inches x 6 inches each.”

Directly in front of the blue marble wall, the front desk is stationed. “This security desk is made from Impala Black,” said Haskel. “The stone for the desk was chosen for its purity.” The desk is a black, curved piece of stone, about a third of the length of the lobby. It reaches up to approximately 3 1⁄2 feet high and has a piece of stainless steel that diagonally runs along the top of the black stone.

The right-hand wall that faces the Azul Cielo is constructed of Bianco Spino marble. “This white marble, from Carrara, Italy, has gray veins that measure between 1⁄2 inch thick and 3⁄4 inch thick,” explained Haskel. “The slabs that were chosen had the veins all going in the same direction - top right corner to the bottom left corner. The pieces that were installed to create the wall look like they repeat.”

Cutting into the right-hand side of the lobby are two elevator lobbies. The wall of one elevator lobby is created from the same Azul Cielo marble, and the walls in between each of the elevator doors are constructed with the Bianco Spino marble.

The flooring of the entire lobby, including the elevator lobby and stalls, is the same as the exterior flooring of both entrances. The Zimbabwe Black granite was sealed with Porous Plus, manufactured by Miracle Sealants, and the stone features a flamed finish.

A collaborative effort

Before the final stonework was installed, representatives from each party involved in the project came together to make the decisions together. The group rented the New York Armory in order to have enough space to lay out the actual slabs before installing them. Each Azul Cielo slab was individually placed on a dolly in order to move the pieces around easily. Individuals would then stand on a lifter that was about 10 or 15 feet in the air to get an aerial view of how each piece would match up. The slabs were then maneuvered until the desired layout was achieved, according to Haskel.

There were very specific reasons for the choice and placement of the Azul Cielo, Bianco Spino and Zimbabwe Black. “We wanted to make the long wall - Azul Cielo - without any penetrations,” explained Leggio. “Because the ceiling was so low, we wanted to turn the sky to its side. The side walls have an ocean or sky feel to it. The black flooring creates a neutral background, with a texture of a random pattern [being] less monotonous. The Bianco Spino contrasts the black and blue, but we didn't want a completely white wall. We wanted the thin, gray lines that run through the white marble to relate and tie into the flooring. We originally wanted Blue Eyes, a brown stone with blue flecks, but we liked the variations of the Azul Cielo. The Azul Cielo shows the true character of how the earth makes marble. Working with the Azul Cielo did pose a challenge for us. With the size of the pieces that we chose, it required a great deal of selection time. We had to look at a lot of slabs, and wound up rejecting about 70% of what we looked at.”

Completing the installation of the stonework took 10 weeks, with 15 people on the job at a time. The entire installation process was completed in sections instead of closing the entire lobby all at once. “The job required us to work in phases,” explained Joe DeVito of Port Morris Tile and Marble of the Bronx, NY, the stone contractor. “The 3,000 square feet of flooring was installed in a mud set, while the walls were done with conventional split anchors along with silicone. The grout that we used for the walls was a mix of blue and white Laticrete grout.”

End box

Jack Resnick & Sons Building
New York, NY

Original Architect: William Lescaze & Associates, New York, NY
Renovation Architect: William Leggio Architects, New York, NY
Stone Supplier: Walker Zanger, Inc., Mt. Vernon, NY
Stone Installer: Port Morris Tile and Marble, Bronx, NY
Stone Installation/Maintenance Products: Miracle Sealants & Abrasives Co., Arcadia, CA; Laticrete International, Bethany, CT

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