Architects: Dental Associates Family and Specialty Care, LLC and Iconica
Owner: Dental Associates Family and Specialty Care, LLC
Contractors: Spray-O-Bond and Iconica
The Iron Block Building was in desperate need of restoration when Dental Associates purchased the property in early 2012. The last standing Wisconsin building with facades made entirely of cast iron, years of neglect had rendered much of the interior unusable, and exterior deterioration had caused unsafe conditions to pedestrians as pieces of the building frequently fell to the public sidewalk.
It was decided to renovate the exterior first, and then move to the interior when the roof and facades were stabilized. The exterior was sandblasted to bare metal in small sections, and zinc primer was applied before oxidization could begin anew. The building was repainted with a two-coat epoxy system in a color scheme determined by historical and forensic analysis. In the meantime, patterns were being milled in order to fabricate any missing or deteriorated pieces from cast iron. Working from photographs and on-site investigation, the team was able to recast approximately 4,200 new pieces, using 97 new wood patterns. The sand casting took place at local foundries in Beloit and Milwaukee.
The roof was a complete tear off, and the new work included the construction of a stair to access the roof, where a new deck was constructed. The roof was also reinforced to carry two new HVAC units for the new heating and cooling system, along with a backup generator and solar panels. The pediments and cornice were all reconstructed to match the detail and proportion of the 1860 roofline, reversing unfortunate modifications that had all but obscured its original beauty.
Once the exterior was complete, the interior renovation started in earnest. The interior had been stripped of all historic character during a 1983 renovation, so the intention was to regain some of the charm of the interior spaces, most notably an atrium that was constructed when an addition was built to the south of the original building in 1899. The building is not only the new corporate headquarters for Dental Associates; it is also a multi-floor clinic, so the entire infrastructure for 28 dental operatories had to be added. All of the mechanical systems in the building were in poor shape and had to be replaced. Structural work was necessary to add an additional elevator and to reorganize some of the spaces to accommodate modern office functions. The existing elevator had to be completely rebuilt including the replacement of the piston and shaft casing. Again using photographs, the new interior materials and finishes echo the style of the original building while maintaining a modern feel.
Photos: Mike Rebholz Photography and Quadrant Inc