P.W. Grosser Consulting designed modern, energy-efficient geothermal heating and cooling systems for two restoration projects—The Staten Island Museum and St. Patrick’s Cathedral—that have been presented with Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards.
Preserving the Past, Protecting the Future
The Moses Awards, the “Oscars” of preservation, honor the revitalization of essential New York landmarks; each award represents years of dedication to the preservation of New York’s greatest architectural marvels.
P.W. Grosser Consulting worked with the restoration architects for the Staten Island Museum and St. Patrick’s Cathedral to design ground-source heating and cooling systems that allowed these buildings to maintain their original beauty and structural integrity.
These projects demonstrate one of the tremendous benefits that geothermal systems offer when rejuvenating historic and landmark buildings: since geothermal systems are built underground, out of sight, they don’t detract from the visual aesthetics of the building, a crucial requirement of many preservation projects.
Many historic buildings have pitched roofs that can’t support conventional cooling equipment, like cooling towers. Indeed, in many preservation projects, geothermal technology is the only feasible option for centralized cooling due either to limited or pitched roof space and/or to landmarks commissions’ objections to visual impacts such as exhaust/intake grilles on the building facade.
Thanks to modern geothermal technology, these buildings can enjoy the same space-conditioning comforts that more modern buildings do while preserving their original aesthetic and utilizing forward-thinking technologies with an energy-efficient, state-of-the-industry and sustainable HVAC system. That means that greenhouse gas emissions are eliminated and the building’s overall carbon footprint is significantly lowered.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The glorious St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan is among New York’s most famous landmarks. A striking vestige of Old World beauty, its 10-year restoration was a complete overhaul that removed decades of grime and pollution to reveal exquisite detailing; the exterior marble, stained glass windows, woodwork, brass doors, and interior plaster were all restored to their full luster.
System upgrades such as new safety systems and the ground-source geothermal system designed bring the cathedral into the 21st century while allowing its historic edifice to remain untouched.
The Staten Island Museum
Founded as a private society of local naturalists who pooled their personal collections to create the public museum in 1908, the Staten Island Museum has a long-standing focus on environmental protection. With this project, the museum—Staten Island’s oldest cultural institution and the City’s only remaining general interest museum—realized a dream 40 years in the making: the expansion of the museum’s facilities into the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, a 19th-century Greek Revival landmark that was saved from demolition through the leadership and efforts of Museum members in 1965.
Years of neglect and failed renovations had left the original museum severely compromised, necessitating a relocation and a brand new “building within a building” structure to control temperature and humidity levels.
The new museum is now located at Sailor’s Snug Harbor Building A—a former dormitory for retired sailors—and the preservation project was able to realize its crucial goals: expanding exhibition and program space, honoring the borough’s history, and respecting the built and natural environments.
The museum’s original wood framing was salvaged for new flooring, and PWGC designed the new ground-source geothermal energy system to create the necessary climate control for the museum’s unique collection of paintings and artifacts.
The geothermal system provides centralized AC to the building for the first time in its history, and helped the building to achieve LEED Gold certification.