The Mark Hotel, a landmark of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, received a facelift and partial conversion to condominiums in a $124 million renovation project that resurrected a New York City institution while still preserving its Jazz Age charm.

The Mark Hotel-New York, N.Y.

“We took an old building and breathed new life into it, with the same level of finishes from the 1920s and integrated it with sophisticated electronics,” says Michael Pardee, project executive with F.J. Sciame Construction Co. of New York. “We maintained the original beauty and architectural detail.”

Sciame began work on the prestigious property in April 2007 and finished in August 2009. The company completed alterations to the roof and foundation without affecting the structure or the façade.

To increase the ceiling height in the penthouse unit, crews demolished the original concrete and steel roof and raised the walls 4 ft, before installing a new roof. The reconfiguration entailed temporarily supporting the existing structure, extending interior and perimeter columns, erecting new steel beams and perimeter steel bracing to tie the new roof structure to the existing columns and to the steel framing at the elevator bulkhead.

Sciame also lowered the existing foundation slab from 8 ft to 11 ft to accommodate a five-pipe mechanical system with an absorption chiller, which would not fit in the original basement. The process involved ground water mitigation, rock excavation and removal, underpinning of foundation walls, and re-stabilizing interior column footings. The company staged the work to prevent the shifting of structural footings due to soil removal and water accumulation.

Unforeseen challenges arose related to variable soil conditions, ranging from mud to bedrock. Concurrently, Sciame discovered a number of the existing column footings were unstable and rested on built-up concrete pads mixed with rock fragments.

The company brought in geotechnical and structural engineers to consult. The structural engineer, WSP Cantor Seinuk of New York, designed temporary bracing to stabilize columns before more excavation could take place. The team limited excavating machines to a 2-ft radius of each column footing, with removals within those 2 ft confined to line drilling at 2-in intervals and hand digging one column footing at a time. The geotechnical engineer, Langan Engineering & Environmental Services of New York, monitored the process and documented findings daily as work progressed.

The exterior facade restoration included removing, patching and re-pointing the existing brick and limestone and replacing glazing with modern windows designed to maintain the historic appearance.

The Mark Hotel’s design aesthetic blends its historic Renaissance Revival character with mid-century interior elements. The modern, minimalist style heralds from the 1940’s to late 1960’s and is characterized by the innovative use of materials, linear proportioning and abstract design elements. High-end finishes, such as intricate wall and ceiling moldings, custom millwork cabinetry, marble bathrooms with nickel accessories and solid-oak flooring, restored the hotel to its past grandeur.

Key Players

Owner: Alexico Group, New York
Construction Manager: F.J. Sciame Construction Co., New York
Architect: SLCE Architects and Spivak Architects, New York
Interior Designer: Jacques Grange, Paris
MEP Engineer: Cosentini Associates, New York
Structural Engineer: WSP Cantor Seinuk, New York
Consultant Engineer: Howard I. Shapiro & Associates, Lynbrook, N.Y.
Geotechnical Engineer: Langan Engineering & Environmental, New York
Exterior Window Consultant: Israel Berger & Associates, New York
Food Facilities Consultant: Post & Grossbard, Piermont, N.Y.