Designed by Strickland and Blodgett in 1927, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel consists of a steel-framed structure clad with brick masonry and accented with decorative cast stone and limestone features. A contributing structure to Boston’s Back Bay Architectural District, the hotel stands in a prominent location across from Boston’s famous Public Garden. SGH investigated the causes of facade deterioration.
SGH conducted a condition assessment and identified the following issues:
- Years of leakage had resulted in corrosion of steel shelf angles
- Corroded steel components caused spalling of the exterior brick masonry
- Poor-quality decorative cast stone cracked and spalled at points with inadequate reinforcement
- Differential movement between the facade and the frame resulted from a lack of detailing to permit movement
- The terra-cotta backup wythe was poorly constructed
- Cracked headers used to tie the wall system together resulted in unreliable attachment between wythes
SGH designed repairs to address structural problems, cracking, cast stone failure, and wall leakage associated with differential movement between masonry wythes and corrosion of the steel framing. Our remedial design included the following:
- Removal and replacement of much of the exterior wythe
- Structural strengthening with steel WT sections set into the masonry
- Installation of new shelf angles with flashing
- Installation of waterproofing over backup wythe
- Addition of control joints in the facade to accommodate movement
We also designed a steel platform with a concrete deck to support construction activity 30 ft above the sidewalk. We detailed one end of the platform attached to the existing structure and the other to columns located along the curb, which was required to span over vaults below the sidewalk.