Case Studies

Central Construction Management LLC: Protecting New York’s Architectural Gems

  • Written by: Central Construction Management LLC: Protecting New York's Architectural Gems
  • Produced by: Central Construction Management LLC: Protecting New York's Architectural Gems

Central Construction Management LLC (CCM) originally specialized in residential construction with a focus on projects involving a hefty masonry component. Michael DiFonzo, founder and president of CCM, spotted a critical opportunity for the team in 1998 when the New York State Department of Buildings passed Local Law 11-98. Following DiFonzo’s lead, the team began working in the area in November 2005.

The law requires – among other things – that all buildings above six stories must bring in a licensed engineer or architect to inspect the façade. The new law prompted DiFonzo to shift gears and put the company’s masonry experience to work in a niche industry of exterior restoration.

The nature of the industry also prompted CCM and DiFonzo to beef up the company’s restoration capabilities, enabling the team to ensure the newest restoration methods could be executed without modifying a building’s historic architectural charms. “We’re not just repairing bricks,” clarifies DiFonzo. “We’re standing next to the engineer and architect as they complete their inspections and going back to implement the recommended repairs to prevent the façade’s deterioration from natural elements.”

Installation of an effective building envelope is a key part of modern construction, but New York is a city stocked with buildings from many centuries and many architectural styles. Especially in older buildings, the natural porosity of brick would allow water to enter – during a driving rain, for example – but the cavity behind the façade wasn’t properly constructed to ensure the water made its way safely out of the building façade. This situation can be disastrous in freezing temperatures, when the trapped water will naturally expand and wreak havoc on the façade’s structural integrity.

“In the past 30 years this industry has developed a number of new methods and products to make sure we can not only deliver a quality repair, but we can also prevent future damage,” asserts DiFonzo. CCM employs a core office team and a staff of experienced project managers, many of whom are licensed riggers in their own right. CCM assembles teams according to the specific project’s requirements, with on-hand talent for landmark preservation, architectural metal work, concrete restoration, sheet metal work, roofing systems, structural steel restoration and waterproofing.

Casting a Wide Net

CCM now has a portfolio of completed projects in just about every metro area borough, though the majority is concentrated within Manhattan. “Manhattan property owners and managers expect the best of the best in service, communication and experience and that’s the only level of service we believe in so it’s not a coincidence that 90 percent of our business is in Manhattan,” admits DiFonzo. CCM’s client base represents a mix of national and regional property management companies, building owners and landlords whose portfolios may include just one building or dozens.

CCM headquarters are strategically located in Long Island City, which is just one subway stop from Manhattan. The office is also located right off of the 59th Street Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, allowing the commute to the other boroughs to be a little less expensive and timely.

Surprise, Surprise

CCM’s breadth of knowledge has helped the team overcome a variety of unexpected surprises over the years, more recently on a major balcony rehabilitation project in Brooklyn. CCM was contracted to replace the steel railings and repair the concrete curb on roughly 500 balconies spread across four buildings. The steel railings were embedded into the building’s concrete façade and had rusted over the years, causing the surrounding concrete to crack.

CCM was originally hired to cut around the steel railings and repair any cracks and bad concrete with Strong Wall repair mortar, as per the engineers’ specifications. When crews went in to remove the first few railings it became apparent that the concrete in the middle of the balcony was severely deteriorating. DiFonzo recognized that removing an extra foot of concrete should reveal a solid concrete structure, and advised crews accordingly. One foot soon became two feet and then three feet before it was obvious that complete replacement was required.

“The engineers did some research and discovered that a contractor had been hired 20 years before to install a new wearing slab on the top portion of the balcony, where the pedestrian traffic is,” explains DiFonzo. That contractor didn’t install any kind of waterproofing between the two new layers, though.

“It was soft inside like an Oreo cookie,” continues DiFonzo. “Basically, we had to reinstall extra rebar and completely reform approximately 160 balconies.” CCM brought in a variety of boom pumps and line pumps to pour the new concrete, followed by a new layer of waterproofing for extra protection, which took crews virtually all of summer 2011 to complete. Even so, CCM completed the project confident it was leaving behind a structure that not only functioned as the engineer intended, but one that was better than new, as per the company’s motto.

Every year brings a new crop of buildings scheduled for inspections, which makes CCM’s volume pretty consistent year over year. In fact, the only noticeable change CCM understandably has seen from the recent economic downturn is the reduction of cosmetic changes. Overall, though, DiFonzo is confident CCM will be able to maintain its stronghold in the New York market. If the team’s track record is anything to judge by, Central Construction Management LLC will continue to play a significant part in preserving New York’s architectural gems.

Published on: March 6, 2013

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