Ford Factory Lofts

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  • Project Type

    Terra Cotta Repair

  • Location

    Atlanta, GA

Completed: 2024

Ford Factory Lofts was a unique project due to the fact that it is a historic building. Built in 1914 and also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Ford Factory Lofts required attention to its large, factory windows and decorative architectural terra-cotta. The large windows, designed to let in as much natural light as possible in an era when artificial light was still inadequate for large indoor spaces, performed poorly from an energy-efficiency standpoint. The 1/8” single-paned glass and operable vents allowed significant solar heat-gain and air infiltration into the residences. To improve energy-performance, Landmark removed the single-paned glass, prepped, primed and painted the steel window frames, and installed ½” insulated glass units with a low-e coating on the #2 surface. Additionally, weatherstripping was added at the operable vents to reduce air-infiltration. The result is a much more comfortable living space with significantly improved energy-efficiency and improved sound control. Landmark also rebuilt this interior window sill with a specialized mortar meant to be installed where a thin body of material is required. The rebuild sills were painted and new interior shades were installed (also by Landmark).

The exterior masonry elements of the building offered different challenges. The architectural terra-cotta had developed cracks and spalls due to water infiltration, poor repairs, and an eroded finish that allowed moisture to weaken the structural integrity of some units. To successfully repair and restore the architectural terra-cotta, Landmark Restorations followed the directives of the National Parks Service’s Preservation Briefs. All of the mortar joints were cut-out and repointed using a lime-based mortar. Repairs were made by carefully targeting defective areas only, square-cutting the area, and rebuilding the unit with a compatible repair mortar formulated specifically for terra-cotta. All the repairs were hand-tooled to match the existing profiles and built-out flush with the adjacent surfaces. Once the repairs were made, a specialized potassium-silicate coating was applied to the terra-cotta to achieve a beautiful uniform finish that was custom matched to the existing color. Finally, after the custom color was applied, a final clear coat was applied to give the terra-cotta its natural glossy finish.

Aside from the terra-cotta, Landmark rebuild the face of approximately 400 bricks on the building that had spalled off. This approach saved time and money by not having to remove and possibly damage adjacent bricks and mortar to install an entirely new brick. The repair mortar was custom color-matched to the existing brick on the building. Once complete, the repaired brick is indistinguishable from surrounding original brick.

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