Dept. of Justice Terra Cotta Antefixae Retrofit & Repair
Washington, DC: 2001
In 2001, Washington D.C.'s Department of Justice Building underwent a historic renovation and modernization that included the repair and reinstallation of elaborate polychrome terracotta eave ornaments, or antefixae, that adorned the roof. We were brought in by the General Services Administration (GSA) to determine the cause of failure, develop a program to repair and reuse the broken units, and design an improved method of securing the antefixae to the roof. We found that most of the antefixae had failed due to an inherent design weakness in the original attachment method compounded when the roof was relaid in the 1980s. We executed a "drop" on ten units to prove our repair processes and create a teaching tool for the contractor. The conservation team provided extensive video, photographs, and written documentation of the repair processes. These accompanied the bid documents to contractors, and included a 25-minute video of the conservators repairing and reinstalling the ten units back on the roof. The GSA's innovative incorporation of the drop eliminated the need to purchase any replacement antefixae, saving both dollars and historic fabric. In the end, this approach saved the government more than $2,000,000 over the estimated cost just to replicate new units.