Structural support and demolition phase

Original terra cotto floors protected with plywood

Original terra cotto floors protected with plywood

The remodeling project is moving forward by first protecting the floors and installing ceiling support jacks before wall demolition could begin. Two walls are intended to be removed: the hallway wall and the one dividing the living room and kitchen. This will open up the space and allow for a proper bathroom and laundry area to be built. Even though the two walls aren’t exactly load-bearing walls, the building throughout the years has certainly settled and relies on those two walls for support. There is also a wall located directly above the kitchen/living room wall in the second floor apartment which transfers the weight down to this one. Before and after photo-documentation is made of the floors in the apartment above to insure that no visual or structural damage will be caused by the reconstruction. To alleviate this concern, it is necessary to have an engineer evaluate the situation and create a structural solution to improve the building’s safety.

Upon completing detailed inspections by the builders, it was discovered that the existing floor structure is quite thin and needs to be reinforced for the safety of the neighbors’ converted apartments in the basement area below. It consists of just a layer of cotto tiles laid above a delicate steel structure which forms the vaulted ceiling of the apartments below. Because of this, the addition of supplemental structural reinforcement has caused slight design revisions in the kitchen floor plan and the addition of a step between the two living areas. In the kitchen, a new layer of cotto flooring will be added on top of the existing floor in order to create a greater thickness and space for added utility tubes. This will create a division in the spatial program.

The building structure until now has never revealed any specific structural issues, however when changes are made by new property owners, it becomes their responsibility to prevent any damage caused by their alterations. In order to support the distribution of the new weight load and maintain the horizontal shift stability, a steel cerchiatura (a “circle” or diaphragm of steel bracing the ceiling, both walls, and floor) is being installed along with a traversal steel beam above the hallway wall.

The traversal beam still needs to be added before the hallway wall can be demolished. This is a challenging procedure for the construction crew. The steel parts need to be partially assembled in their off-site work space, transported to the site, then lifted and welded in place.

Meanwhile, design decisions are being finalized for the kitchen and bathroom components, windows, fixtures, and finishes, as well as the heating and electrical plans. Now that everyone has returned from their summer Ferragosto vacations, work is resuming in full force.

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