Albany, NY

Cultural Education Center and Grand Stair at Empire State Plaza


The Grand Stair is the processional entrance to the Cultural Education Center from the Empire State Plaza and serves as seating during plaza events. SGH evaluated long-term water leaks under the staircase and designed repairs. Following our work at the plaza, SGH investigated bowing of the marble wall panels and issues related to anchorage of the panels at the Cultural Education Center.


The staircase is partially constructed above the pedestrian concourse and spans over a public street. During our investigation, SGH observed efflorescence, staining, stalactites, spalling, and rusting metal straps and fasteners as a result of air and water infiltration. SGH prepared remedial design options and budget estimates. We then designed repairs, including removing and reinstalling the stone steps and replacing the waterproofing. We also developed sequencing to allow egress paths to remain open during construction and analyzed the effects of partially unloading the concrete stair structure.


The eleven-story Cultural Education Center, constructed in 1961, is clad with Georgia Cherokee marble panels. The center houses the New York State Museum with a working, antique carousel for children, the state archives, and the state library. Beginning around 1974, OGS began addressing problems caused by marble panel anchorage defects and bowing. In 2006, OGS retained SGH to perform a hands-on evaluation, which included industrial rope access. We identified unsafe conditions and assisted OGS with limiting access to these areas. We then designed repairs for anchoring existing stones along with removing and temporarily replacing several stones with faux stone panels where stabilization anchors were impractical.

Project Summary



Completion Date
Repair & Rehabilitation
Building Enclosures | Structures
Culture & Entertainment
State of New York Office of General Services (OGS) — Design & Construction
Specialized Capabilities
Repair & Strengthening | Condition Assessments | Roofing & Waterproofing

Key team members

Nick Floyd
Nick Floyd
Associate Principal
Susan  Knack-Brown
Susan Knack-Brown
Building Technology Division Head, Boston
Dean Rutila
Dean Rutila
Building Technology Division Head, Houston, and Safety Director