The New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad Administration Building, a three-story stucco Italianate structure completed in 1912 in the Bronx, New York, recently received a stunning restoration. © Weidlinger Associates Inc.
MTA New York City Transit has restored a historically important administration building and the adjoining East 180th Street Station in a way that preserves the character of the two structures.
March 12, 2013—The New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad Administration Building—a three-story stucco Italianate structure completed in the New York City borough of the Bronx in 1912—and the East 180th Street Station, which is behind that building, have both undergone a restoration. The $65-million project has given the administration building some of the luster it possessed when it served as the lavish home for a luxury railway.
The facility is unique among New York City subway stations. Passengers here cross a landscaped plaza and walk through the administration building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and down a long corridor to reach the elevated station. Approximately 2.6 million passengers pass through the station each year.
The facility is owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City Transit division (MTA NYCT), which placed a premium on maintaining the historic nature of the station while rehabilitating it to a state of good repair, says Steven Highfill, P.E., a principal at Weidlinger Associates, Inc. in New York City.
MTA NYCT selected the joint venture of Weidlinger and Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects, of New York City, to provide the design and engineering for the project, and the joint venture faced the formidable challenge of keeping the trains running on time.
“There was quite a bit of phasing work to allow restoration to be done while maintaining service,” Highfill says. Administration and operations personnel needed to be temporarily moved into “swing” space so that the renovation work could be done. NYC Transit’s subway lines 2 (Seventh Avenue Express) and 5 (Lexington Avenue Express) use the station, and both lines were kept in service throughout the project. This was accomplished by taking only one of the station’s three tracks out of service at a time and moving traffic to the other two.
“The administration building was deteriorated,” Highfill says. “The stucco facade was spalled. The windows were leaking, and window air-conditioning units had been installed in the building,” which is used for administrative offices.
“The skin was completely rehabilitated, including the stucco, windows, and balconies,” Highfill says. “The original Spanish clay tile roof was rebuilt using both original and replication tiles. A new flat roof was installed on the interior with new skylights. A new heating and air-conditioning system was installed, and the building was renovated for central air-conditioning.
The steel and wood canopies of the East 180th Street
Station—behind the historical building—were returned to their
original appearance, along with other extensive renovations to the
station. © Weidlinger Associates Inc.
“Rehabilitating and matching the original window system required the building’s windows to be temporarily removed, rehabilitated—mullions repaired and replaced—and reinstalled,” he adds.
The East 180th Street Station, which, as noted above, is behind the administration building, presented additional engineering challenges, as an elevated track section referred to as the through span was badly deteriorated and had to be replaced.
“The elevated station is also about one hundred years old,” Highfill says. “It was in need of serious repair. The platforms themselves needed some renovation. The canopies were seriously deteriorated, and a train control building perched over the platforms also needed a complete renovation.”
The station’s three tracks are separated from one another by two elevated steel and concrete island platforms. The platforms are topped by steel frame canopies containing wood elements and by a standing-seam metal roof. Much of the station’s exposed steel needed attention, but the design team found that the structure itself was robust.
“There was no general upgrade of the structure needed,” Highfill says. “The system has been heavily used for the last one hundred years. It’s been required to be pretty robust.
“The steel canopies themselves were not in bad shape structurally, though the wood of the canopies was heavily deteriorated, so quite a bit of the structures had to be replaced. The platforms’ steel was heavily deteriorated, so original wood craftsmanship for the canopies was replicated and a new standing-seam metal roof installed to match the original,” Highfill says.
“All elements were rehabilitated and repaired in kind with the original construction,” Highfill says. “The look of the station was not drastically changed.”