Jablonski Building Conservation

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Female, LGBTQIA+ owned

New York, NY


Sterling Memorial Library Interior Restoration

Sterling Memorial Library is the largest library on Yale University’s campus. The Gothic Style Library was designed by James Gamble Rogers in the late 1920s and was completed in 1930.  The interior “nave-like” entrance hall rises in a series of tall piers and Gothic arches pointing the way to an “altar-like” circulation desk.  As originally conceived, this space has a spiritual character punctuated by the ornately carved circulation desk, dramatic wall sconces, patterned leaded glass, wood coffered ceiling, and plaster and stone vaulted ceilings.  Ironwork was produced by Samuel Yellin.

The University received a grant to restore the nave to its original splendor, while accommodating and anticipating the continuing rapid changes in library use.  The goals of this project were to accommodate new technology within the nave in ways that are sensitive to the original fabric.  JBC assisted Helpern Architects, PC with updating the interior of the nave, specifically interior masonry and finishes.  A hands-on survey was conducted to assess the condition of the interior limestone and sandstone walls, plaster and wood ceilings, wooden screens, and iron grilles.  Extensive cleaning tests were implemented to determine the gentlest yet most effective means for cleaning the interior finishes.  Finishes analysis was conducted on the painted ceilings and wood elements to determine the original finishes for repair and replication.

Project Scope

  • Hands-on survey of the interior masonry, wood features, and decorative ceilings.
  • Cleaning tests for interior masonry.
  • Finishes analysis for the replication of deteriorated decorative finishes.
  • Assisted in the design of repairs.
  • Specification writing.
  • Construction administration.

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Status: Built
Location: New Haven, CT, US
Firm Role: Architectural Conservation Consultants
Additional Credits: Helpern Architects, PC (Architect)