22 January 2009

a prefabricated industrial building

Last year we conserved an entire building. Every remaining piece of it, in fact. There were 27 cast iron columns, some of which were broken, and 9 trusses made from a combination of cast and wrought iron elements.
Currently known as the “Grissell Building”, in acknowledgement of the original manufacturers, Henry Grissell of London, this prefabricated industrial structure was discovered on the ACI site at Alexandria. Following documentation in 1997 by Godden Mackay Logan, the Grissell building was dismantled and stored on the site for ten years. In late 2007, we were awarded a contract by Meriton Apartments to conserve all of the elements so that the building could be re-erected in a park in the centre of the site.

We worked with heritage consultants Geoff Ashley and Rebecca Hawcroft of Godden Mackay Logan and structural engineers Simon Wiltshier and Alison Naimo of Hughes Trueman to develop an agreed approach to conservation of the Grissell building. In the end, we:
  • Blasted the cast-iron columns before painting with a zinc-rich epoxy primer and 2 pack polyurethane topcoat
  • Repaired the three broken columns by pinning the pieces to a new galvanised steel CHS installed inside the columns
  • Undertook various other repairs to the cast iron columns, including casting new capital plates
  • Deconstructed the trusses to straighten the wrought iron angle and flat bar tension members
  • Cast new compression strut members to replace broken or missing pieces of the struts
  • Installed new purlin angle supports to carry a new roof
  • Blasted and painted the trusses to match the columns
We were assisted with this work by Wrought Artworks (trusses), Traditional Stonemasonry (columns) and IMP Coating (blasting and painting).

The project had many challenging moments. The transport and hoisting of the nine roof trusses, which are quite lightweight, and therefore very flexible, caused us some of the most nerve-wracking moments.

The reconstruction of the Grissell building is now completed, with additional new roof truss components to help interpret the original configuration of the building. It is located in the public park between South Dowling Street and Broome Street, and serves as a shelter and seating area in the park for residents of the surrounding apartments.

Drop in and enjoy the delicate tracery of 19thC cast and wrought iron work sometime.

David West
International Conservation Services

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