The first phase of restoration of the Cranbrook Alumni Court commenced on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. This area, on the far western edge of the original Cranbrook School for Boys campus, contains many beautiful carvings commemorating graduating classes of Cranbrook seniors arranged around a lawn. Phase 1 of the restoration includes rebuilding the upper level walkway running east to west, relaying the paving on the courtyard interior, and restoring the columns, arches, and wall running east to west. (Future phases include the upper level walkway, columns, and arches running north to south, the masonry stairs aside the courtyard, and all flat paving to the football oval.)
Over the years, salt and water infiltration caused major deterioration of the Alumni Court’s paving, walls, and walkways. One of the most important improvements we added to this project is heating the walkways. Heating minimizes the resources needed to constantly shovel and spread ice melt, preserving the materials.
The project’s contractor began with demolition of all material that was beyond repair–mostly the flat areas and the setting beds below.Once the demolition was complete, the contractor replaced the underground storm drain, which was originally clay piping, with new PVC piping. Clay piping is brittle and therefore susceptible to intruding tree roots which lead to leaks and clogs. The PVC piping will last much longer and minimize maintenance work. Once the PVC piping was installed, soil was filled in and compacted and the trenches were capped with concrete. The next activity was demolishing the concrete bridge. All the existing limestone newel posts and railings were in good condition, so they were set aside to be reinstalled. The masonry wall, below the bridge, was also disassembled because many of the bricks were extremely fragile and showed efflorescence.After a summer of careful work, the masonry wall and arches have been rebuilt to their original beauty. The concrete bridge has been layered with waterproofing, reinforcing, and heating pipes, and is ready to be poured back with concrete. The flat paving areas are being prepared for their final layer of brick and stone. Look forward to a final update here on the Blog once the project is complete! As always, many thanks to the contractors who are working hard on this beautiful restoration.
–Ryan Pfeifer, Project Manager II, Cranbrook Capital Projects