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What Façade Inspections Can Reveal About Your Structure

As part of the NYC FISP Law (aka Local Law 11), New York City requires that all façades on a building over 6 stories tall be inspected every 5 years.  Building owners or managers typically contract with façade architects or engineers for the inspection. If the façade is compromised and the inspection team has concerns about the structural stability of the support members, they will often call a structural engineer. This is where we come in to assess the feasibility of probing as well as the inspection of the structural framing once it’s exposed. 

 

Façade walls often have steel and cast-iron framing, which corrode via iron oxidation (rust) over the years and can undermine the integrity of the structure. Corrosion can be seen in the delamination (a mode of failure where a material fractures into layers) of the steel flanges or holes in the web. Cuono Engineering has a long line of experience in examining structures for these kinds of failures and determining required reinforcement or other forms of remediation for the structural supports. 

 

At one location in Manhattan, we examined the framing supporting the façade cornice (a decorative projection crowning the top of a building) which consisted of steel outriggers to support the protruding terracotta. 

(see video)


Holes in the outrigger web were clearly visible.  (see image 1)


At another project site, we examined the spandrel steel and balcony supports. The cinder slab reinforcement needed to be attached to the spandrel beam, as the length of the beam was corroded, and the slab was no longer attached to the steel beam.  (see image 2)

Delamination of the top flange of the beam was also seen at this site.

(see image 3)  


At another Manhattan building, we observed holes in the steel beam web and a corroded top flange on the same beam. (see images 4 & 5)


At this site in Manhattan, we found more holes in the steel and severely corroded top flanges. (see image 6)


The one common denominator of these projects is the steel façade beams required reinforcement in order to remain structurally stable. 

 

As a minimum, we recommend that building owners and managers survey their buildings for any façade cracks and if they see any, call for an inspection even if it isn’t required by their jurisdiction. Rusted steel supporting a façade isn’t limited to NYC Buildings that are required to be inspected - it may be your building too. Cuono Engineering can investigate the structure and provide reinforcement if it is needed. 

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