Brooklyn’s General Post Office was built in two campaigns. The original Renaissance Revival granite building was completed in 1892; a 1993 addition tripled its original foot print. The 1933 building is a steel-and-concrete-framed structure clad in terra cotta that closely mimics the appearance of the granite on the earlier building. Courtyards between the buildings were filled in the 1990s to further increase usable square footage.
Silman has been engaged in two exterior envelope projects at the Post Office, which was purchased by the GSA in 1999 and renovated to accommodate additional functions including the Conrad B. Duberstein US Bankruptcy Courthouse. The first project, completed in 1993, involved design of repairs to the terra cotta facade; this project’s limited scope focused on areas of loss and material failure in the terra cotta.
On the more recent project, Silman collaborated with the architect on documentation of the existing facades of both the 1892 and 1933 buildings, development of options for repair and replacement of the 1993 terra cotta cladding, peer review through the US General Services Administration’s (GSA) Design Excellence Program, production of Construction Documents on an accelerated schedule to accommodate funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), and construction phase services.
Silman’s work included the design of repairs for the steel shelf angles, spandrel beams, and columns; the steel and structural hollow tile roof and floor framing in the 1892 building’s tower; the 1933 building’s concrete roof framing; and the interface of the 1892 building and 1990s courtyard infill. Silman also reviewed the possible effects on the structure of a new work positioning and fall protection system and conducted regular site visits to observe progress of construction and respond to field conditions.