The image below is a before and after view from the floor, looking at one of the coffered panels in the octagonal conference room. In this elaborately designed ceiling each of the coffers are approximately four foot by six foot. The photo on the right shows the finished decoration done by Cisi Jary and her daughter, Pam Rosser. There is a link near the bottom of this page to their website, Restoration Associates.
before restoration image of finished decoration comes from
I was told by Lawrence Walker that the ceiling is copied from the Chicago Tribune Bldg. As I attempted to refine the model for moldmaking I wanted to smooth out some of the drip marks in the paint work. There were quite a few (although not very noticeable). I then discovered that the "drips" were not in the painting done at the ExNews Bldg in San Antonio, but they were actually cast into the plaster. So, I assume, these "drips" were from the paint work done in Chicago, where the molds were taken for this ceiling.

In the photo above, on the left, you can see two of the holes that were punched through for the wires used to hang the 1960s acoustical ceiling. Since the gold, bronze, and silver powdered decoration on the original ceiling is a bit dark, I assume the 60s ceiling was installed below the original to lighten up the conference room. It is a shame that they hacked through the original castwork, but on the other hand this does allow me to occasionally practice the trade passed down to me by my father Tom. Installing the dropped ceilings was a common and accepted practice during the 1950s and on. Now (Jan. 1999) these dropped  ceiling are standard in almost every building (sheetrock ceilings would be the alternate choice). This would be the result of economics, lack of desire for the placement of art in your space, and the unavailability of mechanics to create the embellished environments. Click below to read a related opinion.

click here to go to a related opinion by Andrew Werby

Battersby Ornmntl made the molds in place, from more than a dozen locations on the ceiling, in areas that were intact, in order to repair the damage. In the photo above you see the two holes and two other areas that are seriously fractured. The fractures also needed to be repaired. There were many of these in the room aside from the four dozen or so "punched holes". These fractured areas were cut out by me and replaced with reproductions cast in the molds from the intact areas. Access from above was almost nonexistant (through the larger hole in the picture above you can see the concrete floor pan of the eighth floor which was only a few inches above the embellished coffers I was restoring). This meant I had to devise an executable method for adhering my new castings. My new pieces were cut to fit in closely, like pieces from a jigsaw puzzle. So I solved this by first fitting the new cast piece precisely, then mixing some plaster (the adhesive), then putting the wet plaster in a tall styrofoam cup, then working quickly (the plaster immediately starts losing it's plasticity and sets in a few minutes) insert the cup through the hole setting it above the ceiling in a strategic location, a string has been attached to the top of the cup and it is run out through another of the "punched holes", then the new piece is held up in it's place at the ceiling, then the string on the tumpcup is pulled allowing the plaster to flow on top of the new and the existing pieces, and finally holding the new piece in place carefully for a few minutes. That's it, except for detailing the perimeter of the new piece, to make the patchwork invisible. This was repeated many times on this job.

I will be publishing more photos here soon, so check back and click reload or refresh.
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copyright 1999