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Thaw Conservation Center
The Morgan Library

New York, New York, 2002
5,600 Square Feet

Description: The Thaw Conservation Center is a world-class laboratory for conservation of works on paper as well as a magnet for conservation studies and training. It has enabled the Morgan Library to significantly expand its capabilities and activities in the field of conservation.

The Center sits on the top floor of the only freestanding brownstone extant in New York City - a four-story structure originated in 1855 and expanded around 1900. The original servant and nursery quarters had been modified many times, so the interior included nothing of architectural or historical value to preserve. Wherever possible, we exposed, restored and cleaned existing brick walls while installing few new partitions. The layout achieves appropriate arrangements for wet and dry treatments, examinations, documentation, teaching, and research, while allowing considerable flexibility for evolving conservation practice.

The Library requested that the existing shallow roof line be maintained, but the conservators required ample northern light. We conserved as much as the existing roof structure as possible with additions of discrete steel and wooden elements, transforming the original framing into a series of elegant shed trusses. The continuous air-vapor barrier was installed just above the original sheathing, but below the insulation, so the original roof construction is revealed and appreciated.

Library website: Thaw Conservation Center

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