|After two years of being shrouded in scaffolding, the cupola of the cityâ€™s Terminal Tower is once again visible. Even from the ground, the top of the 77-year-old landmark looks better than most people can remember. But few really know what has been (and still is) going on up there. We asked Terminal Tower general manager â€¨Stephen Bir to fill us in.
The Problem: Old age, an affliction particularly evident on the gold-pigmented iron cupola and ornate terra cotta facade gracing the 34th to 50th floors. â€œThe cupola was built with a cement backing over a steel cap,â€ Bir says. â€œOver the years, the expansion and contraction of the concrete had split some of the â€¨metal. And some of the cracks in the terra cotta had given way to Clevelandâ€™s weather, rusting some of the steel behind it.â€
The Solution: A major facelift that includes reinforcing the underlying steel and rebuilding the cupola and facade. The cupola was painted a shade that approximates the original gold tint. â€œIt had been painted many different colors over the years â€” brown, pewter, a mustard color,â€ Bir says. The building is being cleaned with a kinder, gentler version of power washing as work is completed.
Interior Upgrades: All 21 elevators are being replaced. â€œPeople got stuck in them occasionally,â€ Bir says. â€œEven our president and chief executive officer was stuck in them various times over the years.â€
Completion Date: Late 2010
Price Tag: The job costs about $40 million, provided by Forest City Enterprises. It includes replacing all of the buildingâ€™s 2,050 single-pane steel windows. â€œThey were, in some â€¨areas, very dilapidated,â€ Bir says. â€œWe had to put [interior] storm windows on because the snow would come in through the sides.â€