Best Cultural/Worship: St. Brigid's Church Restoration

Meticulous attention to detail was required to deliver this $18-million restoration of St. Brigid's Church in New York. Built in 1848 and designed by Patrick Kelly, the church is made of brick masonry-bearing walls with wood floors.

St. Brigid's was closed in 2001 and scheduled for demolition until an anonymous donor stepped forward in 2008, helping to make way for construction to begin in September 2009.

Work included the underpinning of the timber pile foundation systems as well as full interior and exterior renovation and reinforcement of existing structural members. Besides adding new mechanical, electrical and lighting systems, the team added a stairway and accessible lift and restored interior finishes, including new stained glass windows in rebuilt wood frames.

Numerous hurdles arose during construction that required quick solutions. These included the need to rebuild the majority of the north wall due to deteriorated mortar within the brickwork.

Severe damage on the east wall led the team to consider demolishing it and replacing it with a new reinforced CMU wall. But this would have required removing and replacing the wall's decorative plaster. Instead, the team opted to build a concrete liner wall at the exterior of the east wall to provide support and stability.

Throughout the project, extensive work was performed by hand, particularly for interior restorations. These included replicating portions of the existing decorative plaster finishes by casting new pieces from molds made from the original pieces.

The original window frames were reconstructed in wood and included replication of the intricate tracery detailing. Crews also performed much of the interior painting by hand, including the repainting of two emblems that were uncovered during plaster renovation.

One Best Projects judge hailed the team's effort—particularly on the reinforcement of the existing structure while working on the interior—as "absolutely incredible." Another highlighted the fact the team came up with several ways to address the problems linked to the deteriorated mortar.

St. Brigid's Church Restoration, New York

Key Players

Owner The Archdiocese of New York

General Contractor Michael J. Fitzgerald Contracting Co. Inc.

Design Architect Acheson Doyle Partners Architects PC

Structural Engineer Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Civil Engineer Langan Engineering & Environmental Services

MEP/FP Engineer C&F Consulting Engineering PC

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