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May 2002 - Capital Project of the Month


JOHN KRAWCHUK: Preservation Project Manager



ROBERT SILMAN ASSOCIATES, P.C.,: Structural Engineering


MG ENGINEERING P.C.,: Mechanical Engineering

FUNDING: This project was funded by Manhattan Borough President, C. Virginiaimage of washington sqaure arch Fields; former Mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani and the Manhattan Delegation under former Councilwoman Kathryn E. Freed.

LOCATION: Washington Square North and Fifth Avenue in Washington Square Park, Borough of Manhattan. The Arch is within Council District # 1 and Community Board # 2.

CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE: We expect this important project to begin in the Fall of 2002, with completion scheduled for the Winter of 2003. image of washington sqaure arch

HISTORY: The design for the Washington Arch was conceived as part of the 1889 centennial celebrations of George Washington's Presidential inauguration on the steps of Federal Hall. The first Arch, erected 100 feet north of Washington Square, was designed by Stanford White and constructed of wood and plaster staff. A group of prominent citizens who included President Grover Cleveland and the Architect Richard Morris Hunt formed a committee for the construction of a permanent Arch. Stanford Whimage of marble eagle on Washington square Archite's second Arch, to be built in Tuckahoe marble and was in White's words, to be "distinctly classic…Roman in contradistinction to the less robust, more fanciful, and more 'personal' style of the Renaissance." By 1892, the Arch was nearing completion but was in need of the architectural ornament and pier sculpture.
image of washington sqaure arch

The marble eagles for the keystones were designed by Philip Martiny and carved by James Sinclair and Company. The Trophy panels were designed by Mr. Hunter of McKim, Mead, andimage of washington sqaure arch White and also carved by James Sinclair. The spandrels, representing Peace(northwest), War (northeast), Fame (southwest) and Prosperity (southeast) were designed by Frederick MacMonnies, who worked on the Colombian Exposition of 1892 in Chicago.

Whites' design for the Arch had called for sculptural groups for the pedestals. These were to be funded separately from the rest of the Arch. In 1912 the Arch Committee re-formed to raise subscriptions to complete the Washington groups. The committee selected the sculptors Herman MacNeil and Alexander Stirling Calder for the groups. In 1913 MacNeil signed his contract to design and execute Washington's statue as Commander-in-Chief, accompanied by allegorical bas-relief figures of Fame and Valor at the pedestal on the northeast side of the Arch. image of marble eagle on Washington square Arch

Calder's contract to execute the northwesterly group of Washington as Statesman with Wisdom and Justice bas-relief figures, was delayed until 1916 because of funding issues. The statues were carved in Dover Marble and the bas-reliefs in White Georgian Marble by Piccirilli Brothers and were installed by March 11, 1918. Twenty-nine years from the time of its inception, the Washington Square Arch had finally reached completion.

image of washington sqaure arch

DESIGN: This project is being administered through the consultant design program with Koutsomitis Architects as the lead consultant. The work will consist of careful cleaning, consolidation and repair of the fragile exterior marble surfaces and restoration of the bimage of washington sqaure archrick and tile interior walls, spiral stair and ceiling. A new roof and adequate drainage system are proposed to completely seal the structure's envelope. New architectural lighting will be installed to enhance the ornamental carvings & statues and maintenance lighting will be installed in the stairwell. The existing granite pavers will be cleaned and reset. Upon completion, the immediate area around the Arch will be reopened to the public.image of washington sqaure arch

image of washington sqaure arch