Best Renovation/Restoration: St. Stephen Church Historical Renovation
Owner: Good Shepherd Parish/St. Stephen Church
Lead Design Firm: Trapolin-Peer Architects
General Contractor: DonahueFavret Contractors Inc.
Structural Engineer: Heaslip Engineering
MEP Engineer: IMC Consulting Engineers Inc.
St. Stephen Catholic Church has gone through numerous renovations since it was built in 1887. The project team was tasked with restoring the church to its original beauty, but also upgrading all mechanical systems with the latest technologies.
Preconstruction efforts included hand-excavating the foundations and deconstructing floors in test areas to determine substrate and material makeups.
The original cast-iron columns in the entry area were unstable, and the team discovered that the columns had never been mechanically fastened. A shoring company was brought in to raise the entire structure from the basement crawl space and install new pins at each column to prevent failure.
A team of masonry specialists used a low-pressure micro-abrasive blast machine to remove old dirt to make way for the hand tuck-pointing of every joint of the church’s 300,000 bricks. The existing mortar was sent off for petrographic analysis and chemically recreated so that the new mortar would match the 130-year-old lime-based mortar that it replaced in makeup, color and longevity.
The team oversaw installation of a set of 14 Carrera marble arched plaques, designed by Joseph Sibbel in the 19th century, that depict the Stations of the Cross. Each plaque is 531⁄2 in. by 291⁄8 in. and weighs about 700 lb. To support that weight, steel lintels were installed; plaster castings were specially made to cover the steel and surround the plaques.
When the existing roofing was removed to make way for new slate, the project team found that the substrate had been layered up to eight times with felt and old roofing, and there was no roof decking underneath. The contractor stripped the roof to the old wood framing and oversaw installation of 770 sheets of plywood decking to support the new roof.
Throughout construction, crews moved fencing and construction hazards on Saturday so that Mass could be celebrated every Sunday.