Ritz-Carlton facade to get $2M renovation

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans Hotel is set to start a $2 million refurbishment of the terra cotta façades of the two 100-year-old buildings that make up the hotel.

New Orleans CityBusiness reports (http://bit.ly/1jDBMaU) contractors will use the original hand drawn blue prints of the structures and three-dimensional construction renderings.

The hotel is working with Pascal Architects of New Orleans to recreate and restore some of the ornate elements of the former Maison Blanche and S.H. Kress Co. department store buildings that have been lost or weathered over time. The hotel has occupied the two Canal Street buildings since 2000.

Ritz-Carlton spokesman Paul Loisel says work should be completed by mid-August. Contractors will soon begin installing scaffolding around the buildings. Hotel operations are not expected to be affected.

The scope of the project includes restoring an ornate pediment over the hotel entrance, which was the original entrance to the Maison Blanche building. Loisel said the original terra cotta feature had been removed in the mid-1900s during a renovation.

Knox Tumlin, chief operating officer of Pascal Architects, said the pediment will not be replaced with sectional terra cotta pieces because of concerns about the weight and cost of the materials. Instead, contractors used 3D modeling to recreate the pediment out of a single piece of reinforced fiberglass resin material. Tumlin said the process is typical of other historic restorations where weight and structural support are taken into account.

"We were fortunate to be able to locate original hand drawn blueprints and old photographs to help us recreate the ornate elements of the pediment," Tumlin said. "Seal Fiberglass Inc. of Copiague, New York, handled the modeling and casting of the pediment."

As for the adjacent Kress building, Tumlin said contractors are working to replace the "KRESS" letters at the top of the building, as well as a terra cotta strip across the second floor that includes old signage. Both have suffered weather-related damage and deterioration. The same fiberglass resin material will be used to replace these signs.

Pascal Architects is the same firm that handled the Ritz-Carlton's $14 million interior renovation completed in 2013.

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Information from: New Orleans CityBusiness, http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com

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