Judge’s Choice Awards showcase meticulous craftsmanship
Thomas Moore Studios
The muse of architecture had been buried beneath layers of paint and years of neglect.
When Thomas Moore Studios began working on the restoration of Clifton Mansion in 2016, conservators knew the former summer house of Johns Hopkins contained elaborate paintings. But they didn’t know what the images were or how extensively they stretched throughout the mansion.
Hopkins had directed that all his papers be destroyed upon his death, so few records or photographs remained of the grand Italianate villa that he had created in the mid-1800s. Decades of subsequent use as government offices and a golf course clubhouse had buried those historic works in a dozen coats of paint.
But in the 1990s, workers in the building discovered evidence of its showpiece mural. Subsequent restoration efforts partly revealed, but also partly damaged, the 12 by 20 foot painting that depicts the Bay of Naples after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Conservators from Thomas Moore conducted scientific paint analysis to determine the best methods to remove the overcoats of paint and conserve the original paintings. The conservators and decorative painters spent years painstakingly scraping away layers of paint, filling cracks, restoring original colors and reproducing destroyed sections of the mural and other hand-painted elements.
“On the first floor, other walls just had trompe l’oeil panel lines. They were pretty simple and probably designed not to distract from the mural,” Thomas Moore said. “We assumed that the rest of the walls were about the same.”
On the second floor, however, “we kept uncovering different things,” he said. “They had painted muses from antiquity — a muse for architecture, others for painting, geography and literature… It was unbelievable how intricate they were.”
Another wall revealed a small patch of brown which conservators initially assumed was painted, faux wood-graining. It turned out to be part of an elaborate painted brass urn, overflowing with flowers. Further investigation uncovered other decorative elements, including moldings gilded in 23K gold leaf, elaborately stenciled coffers, faux bois and a walnut staircase that had been covered in black paint and linoleum.
The mansion’s 1850s designers, Moore said, “had gone beserk on the second floor. They didn’t hold anything back.”
Rosendin Electric, Inc.
The tireless, meticulous work of one crew member over two weeks of night shifts spurred a major change in a mission-critical project.
Rosendin Electric had been contracted to provide an active, cellular data switching center with new electrical utility service and emergency backup power, and replace the existing distribution equipment without interrupting the center’s 24/7/365 operations. Verizon was understandably cautious and initially insisted Rosendin only conduct work during third shift and limit cutovers to the center’s standard, three-hour maintenance window in the middle of the night.
One Rosendin electrician decided he needed to understand every nuance of the center’s electrical systems. So for two weeks, he mapped every receptacle, light fixture and circuit. His intricate records impressed Verizon.
“They said, ‘you guys know this building better than we do,’ and they allowed us to work during the day because they were sure we weren’t going to turn off anything accidentally,” said Anthony Pyles, a Rosendin Project Manager.
That freedom and trust was essential to completing a job that required crews to shore up the building and tunnel beneath the foundation to run in new feeders; install two new generators; and methodically cut over every new panel and piece of gear one item at a time.
Operating within a tight site and to stringent facility requirements, the Rosendin crew conceived fresh ways to overcome those limitations.
“We didn’t have much laydown area, so we had our shop prefabricate the duct banks for us in 10-foot lengths so we could bring them on site as we needed them, lower them into the ground and glue them together,” Pyles said.
Cramped by the installation of two large generators, Rosendin electricians figured out how to bring one generator online four months early, use it to meet the center’s power requirements and demolish an old generator to free up space for a new electrical room.
When the county’s fire safety requirements threatened to delay the project, a Rosendin worker devised a plan to fully install the new fire alarm system using the existing system’s boxes and keep the old system operational until the center was ready to flip over to the new equipment. The worker was then able to remove the old system without even putting an additional hole in a wall.