1950s white-brick look plagues high-profile NYC buildings today

October 03, 2011 03:50PM

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From left: 900 Fifth Avenue, 500 East 77th Street and 2 Fifth Avenue (building credit: PropertyShark)

More than fifty years after coming into vogue, white brick buildings are proving costly to present-day New York City residents. According to the New York Times, the white bricks, which were specially glazed to keep inner walls dry while ensuring dirt slid off during rainstorms, are cracking and necessitating costly repairs.

That’s because water eventually slipped in, and the glaze prevented evaporation allowing the winter freeze-and-thaw cycle to wreak havoc on the exterior.

“This was actually a ploy to make the buildings quote-unquote more waterproof and it’s backfired big time,” said Jon Colatrella, the survey team leader at Rand Engineering and Architecture. “Once that moisture gets trapped in between those two materials, essentially, it freezes over time and it just starts to spall and pop and crack that front face right off.”

About a dozen glazed white-brick buildings have had their exterior bricks replaced in the last decade, including Glenwood Management’s the Pavilion at 500 East 77th Street off of York Avenue and the co-op at 900 Fifth Avenue. And dozens more white-brick buildings will require reskinnings in the coming years, including the co-op at 2 Fifth Avenue. There, the cost of the badly needed exterior repair is worrying residents and leading to trouble among the co-op board. [NYT]