Grand Central Station
Grand Central Oyster Bar Inc.
Lucy Moses Award
The oldest business in Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal has welcomed thmnp of hungry New Yorkers, tourists and travelers since 1913. Thrush it all, the Oyster Bar’s iconic Guastavino tile arches and vaults have endured, defining an expansive but intimate space.
In recent years, however, the herringbone-patterned ceilings were showing their age. A century’s wear and tear, plus the effects of a 1990s fire and less-than-expert rehab, finally made restoration a priority. Graciano Corporation specialists returned the lofty, curving surfaces to as-new condition. A detailed schedule was constructed to minimize the restaurant downtime.
Tile by tile, the Graciano team inspected and sounded the 13,000-sq ttalt, foot installation while patching, repointing and cleaning. Eventually they removed, set or replaced 1,300 square feet of terra cotta above dining rooms, lunch counter and bar.
The task was demanding. Steve Bolognese of the International Masonry Institute calls Guastavino work “the PhD. level of masonry? It took great skill even in the 1900s, when architects across the country were specifying it, and by the 1940s it was essentially a lost art.
Then in 1998, Graciano stonemason Gino Marchese accepted an ambitious assignment: reviving the cavernous 1914 market space under Manhattan’s Queensboro Bridge. It was the first-ever Guastavino reconstruction, and one of the world’s largest terra cotta restorations. Rediscovering historic tools and techniques turned Mr. Marchese and his crew intoGuastavino experts. The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers honored the reincarnated BridgeMarket as the best restoration project of 2000.
Graciano later restored the Guastavino-vaulted Whispering Gallery, just outside the Oyster Bar. “Then came the Oyster Bar,” says Graciano vice president Tom Corbo. “It was challenging to accommodate a big commercial kitchen and an iron clad schedule?
But both the Oyster Bar’s management and its architects, Building Gosen-atkm Associates, Inc., were “blown away” with the results, Mr. CA’ who says. “.And for us it was a joy to help revive another landmark There are at least 200 more Guastavino installations in this city alone, and we look forward to keeping them in good shape for future generations.”