Challenges:The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is not only historically significant, but also has deep social ties within the community. Traditional methods for completing the retrofit of the unreinforced masonry were seen as too imposing, both physically and emotionally.
The challenge was to seismically retrofit the late-1800s unreinforced masonry cathedral with limited or no visual impact to the historic fabric, while providing a necessary lateral force resisting system. This included the reactivation and retrofit of an existing dome, the 145-foot-tall masonry side towers and the 217-foot-tall wood-framed center tower. Updates to the mechanical, lighting, acoustics, accessibility and liturgical elements were necessary, all of which need a coherent integration into a structural solution.
Solution:NYA developed a concept that removed portions of the existing masonry piers to provide concealed placement of the concrete frame.The concrete elements replace the masonry providing gravity and lateral support. Work was completed with all supported elements including the dome remaining undisturbed.
NYA's retrofit solution seamlessly integrates into the space, maintaining its historic integrity and does not intrude or impose with its presence. In fact, to either visitor or congregant, there is no indication that the space has been altered structurally in any way. This is the true measure of success of the historic structural retrofit - blending sensitivity with need and function.