the Colaborative Inc

Santa Fe Building Complex

Client: General Services Administration / Aguirre & Associates

Site: Dallas, TX

One of the earliest concrete structures in the United States, the Santa Fe Building in downtown Dallas, Texas is a 19-story vertical warehouse designed and built to serve the city’s underground system of railroad tracks. The Collaborative was contacted by the General Service Administration (GSA), when pieces of concrete began falling from the building onto the pedestrian sidewalks below. Our firm, along with JVA Structural Engineers, was asked to provide an immediate quote and schedule for evaluating causes of the problems and developing remedial treatments. The Collaborative’s cost estimate was half of the cost of the nearest competitor, and our firms were selected to serve as consultants on this project. The initial challenge was to decide the best way to examine this 19-story building in the shortest amount of time yet, still be comprehensive. Using 300-foot lengths of climbing rope, our conservators rappelled down the face of the building, examining the concrete for areas of deterioration and its causes. For the more ornate stonework on the first, second, and third stories a hydraulic lift was utilized. High-powered spotting scopes were used from adjacent buildings to isolate areas needing further evaluation with a borescope. Since no measured drawings of the building could be located, new drawings were developed based upon field research and photographic documentation. Archival research uncovered an engineering journal article detailing the original construction of the building. This article provided insight into early concrete construction techniques, and the likely causes for deterioration. Laboratory research in our historic materials laboratory added additional information, filling in the last pieces of the puzzle. The preservation plan for the building exterior included recommendations for the roof, roof drainage systems, and concrete, including the ornate decorative elements. The plan was reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Officer of Texas, and subsequently, the building’s exterior façade was restored and the dangerous conditions abated while maintaining the overall historic integrity and physical stability of this historic building. Our total time required for production of the report was less than 30 days.