Facelift: Lessons from Retrofitting the Tall Face of Modernism

The stock of mid-century tall curtainwall buildings, as uniquely represented in New York City, is aging, with many of the earlier examples approaching a service life of 60 years and more. They are increasingly the subject of some form of intervention and they are proving to be a challenge. Options are few, often necessitating the complete removal and replacement of the entire facade system, a process both expensive and highly disruptive to ongoing building operations. While some have undergone or are currently undergoing retrofit, many more remain to be addressed. Many are interested in the options for and process of facade renovation for this building type. But more importantly, what have the experiences of these interventions taught us about how we might improve the design of today’s new buildings to better facilitate future facade renovation?


Gabrielle Brainard, AIA, LEED AP, CHPC

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia GSAPP

Stanford Chan, RA, AIA

Senior Principal Existing Buildings Division Roofing and Waterproofing Division, Vidaris, Inc.

Peter Daniele

Project Executive, Sterling Project Development

Adrian Tuluca, RA, BEMP, LEED AP BD+C

Senior Principal, Vidaris, Inc.

Nathan Walker, PE, RA, LEED AP

Principal, Vidaris, Inc.