Construction on the New York Life Insurance Building was completed in 1928. Its combination of a gold pyramid roof and Gothic details makes it a great example of the Art Deco/Moderne movement. It stands 615 feet tall, contains 40 floors, and occupies an entire block in Manhattan. Additionally, the building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972.
Recently, renovations have become necessary to maintain the landmark and Petrillo Stone Corporation was hired to handle the job. In the photos in this post, you can see one of the original gargoyles from the New York Life Building (And our very own Ralph Petrillo in the background). Next to it, you’ll see the replica we made. Can you tell the difference? Hint: Ours looks much newer.
We carved this exact copy out of Indiana limestone and will sandblast to give it a weathered look. Both gargoyles will be re-added to the building’s exterior.
We’re so proud and honored to lend a helping hand to an historic icon.
Gargoyles on NY Life Building
You’re probably familiar with the great architecture of Rome, like the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Millions of tourists flock to the city each year just to catch a glimpse of these great works. However, you may not have heard of the Ponte Rotto, or broken bridge.
Originally named the Pons Aemilius, it was built in 179 B.C. and is one of the only remaining examples of Roman Republican architecture. It was constructed to connect the cattle farm on the eastern bank with Trastevere on the western bank. However, no one has been able to cross it since Christmas Eve 1598, when floods carried the eastern part away.
Ancient Stone Masonry in the Ponte Rotto
What was really remarkable, though, was that it was one of the first stone Roman bridges. At the time, bridges were wooden and entirely supported on timber piles. Instead, the Pons Aemilius was constructed of a wooden roadbed, supported by five stone pillars.
The stone used was locally quarrified volcanic tufa, a form of volcanic ash. The stone was laid in ashlar masonry style, or an interlocking style of horizontal and vertical slabs set in parallel courses. To learn about the construction of the Pons Aemilius, more famously known as the Ponte Rotto, you can check out this detailed article by The Wall Street Journal.
The Ponte Rotto has a rich history of rebuilding and reconstruction, and has been witness to major events in Roman history. Throughout it all, it’s been a reminder of the past and a point of interest for artists through the ages.
If you’ve ever been downtown in Philadelphia, there’s no question that you’ve noticed City Hall. The remarkable, French Renaissance-style building is breathtaking and easily identifiable, thanks to William Penn gracing the structure’s top.
You may also know that when plans for construction began in 1871, City Hall was intended to be the tallest structure in the world at 548 feet tall. Unfortunately, construction of the Eiffel Tower and Washington Monument ruined that dream before City Hall’s construction ended. However, neither of those structures were used as buildings so Philadelphia’s City Hall remained the world’s tallest occupied building until 1909, when the Metropolitan Life Building was built in New York.
Traditional Stone Masonry
The reason that City Hall still strikes us at Petrillo Stone Corporation as legendary is the fact that is an all-masonry, load bearing building — and still one of the largest in the world. Most of the seemingly stone buildings we see today actually have a support frame built of steel and iron. This building, however, is made of brick and covered in white marble and granite. It has walls up to 22 feet thick at the base to support its immense weight.
Because this type of construction is so time-consuming and expensive, most designers have virtually abandoned load-bearing structures over the last century. City Hall took 30 years and over 24 million dollars to complete. This is a beautiful example of pure stone masonry that has rightfully earned its spot as the center of a historic city.
Monocacy Park is one of the beautiful, historic areas gracing Bethlehem, PA. Its rich background includes thousands of stories, but one in particular is resurfacing at present.
Last Wednesday, a project began to restore the Works Progress Administration stonework and masonry that currently lends the park a certain individuality.
Monocacy Park itself was constructed in the 1930’s as a project for the WPA, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal work-relief programs. This project gave work to men in the area who found themselves unemployed as a result of the Great Depression, and accordingly, gives the park great sentimental value to the community.
Students and volunteers are working to replace grout in some of the columns and give some much needed TLC to the park’s picnic tables and fire pits. All of the grout that is removed will be recycled back into the project. Perhaps the most iconic fixture being restored is the retaining wall, which sports the bold initials “WPA” on one side and the year 1936 on the other.
Although they will be working under the supervision of some stone masonry experts, these volunteers are just as untrained in this traditional art as were the men who originally built the park — and this seems very fitting. The group will be using modern stone mason technology, such as micro injection grout, to improve the park’s structure and waterproofing.
As a true admirer of traditional stonework, Ralph Petrillo and the rest of Petrillo Stone Corporation are warmhearted to hear these community restoration stories. It really puts life back into the architecture. What do you think?
The following is a press release from USTCI about our latest achievement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Petrillo Stone Corporation receives 2013 New York Excellence Award
May 19th 2014 – Petrillo Stone Corporation has been selected for the 2013 New York Excellence Award amongst all its peers and competitors by the US Trade & Commerce Institute (USTCI).
Each year the USTCI conducts business surveys and industry research to identify companies that have achieved demonstrable success in their local business environment and industry category. They are recognized as having enhanced the commitment and contribution of small businesses through service to their customers and community. Small businesses of this caliber enhance the consumer driven stature that New York is renowned for.
Petrillo Stone Corporation has consistently demonstrated a high regard for upholding business ethics and company values. This recognition by USTCI marks a significant achievement as an emerging leader within various competitors and is setting benchmarks that the industry should follow.
As part of the industry research and business surveys, various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the selected companies in each category. This research is part of an exhaustive process that encapsulates a year long immersion in the business climate of New York.
The USTCI is a leading authority on researching, evaluating and recognizing companies across a wide spectrum of industries that meet its stringent standards of excellence. It has spearheaded the idea of independent enterprise and entrepreneurial growth allowing businesses of all sizes to be recognized locally and encouraged globally.
Particular emphasis is given to meeting and exceeding industry benchmarks for customer service, product quality and ethical practices. Industry leading standards and practices have been developed and implementation of the same has been pioneered by the dedicated efforts of the business community and commerce leadership.
More information on USTCI can be found at www.USTCI.org
The following is a post we’ve shared from our other Petrillo Stone website:
In August 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Washington D.C. and caused over 150 structural cracks to the 130-year-old Washington Monument. At 555 feet tall, the stone symbol required extensive, careful repair that cost around $15 million. In fact, teams worked on scaffolding for nearly 1,000 days to better work stone by stone.
Construction of the Washington Monument began in 1848 to honor our nation’s first president. On July 4th of that year, a team began to assemble the 80-foot square step pyramid foundation made of blue gneiss. They then used a system of pulleys to create a marble, obelisk structure roughly 156 feet off the ground by 1854. After architect Robert Mills died in 1855, the monument remained half finished for almost two decades. Building resumed in 1876, although builders had issues finding matching stone and incorporated stone and marble from three different quarries. Actually, three distinct stone patterns can still be seen by the naked eye today…
For the full post, visit PetrilloStone.net.
Erected in 13th century Mycenae in southern Greece, also known as the Bronze Age, Lion Gate is one of the only surviving examples of monumental Aegean sculpture. It features two lionesses carved on a triangular piece of stone above the lintel. In Mycenaean architecture, it was common to use a triangular stone as a “relief stone” that the irregularly shaped blocks of the parallel walls could rest on.
This particular relief stone is engraved with two lionesses posing on a pillar. In ancient architecture, lions symbolize both protection and divine right. Due to Lion Gate‘s near proximity to the Mycenaen palace and a site known as “Grave Circle,” scholars believe that the lionesses were guarding royal grounds. Lion Gate also served as the entrance to the citadel. It was made just before the downfall of the Mycenaean empire, representing its short but powerful rule.
To those in the industry, architecture like Lion Gate is inspirational. We love seeing pieces of art that stand the test of time and tell a story long after its creators are gone.
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