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Building Conservation Associates

U.S. Custom House, Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
Year Built: 1932-34 
Original Architect: Ritter & Shay 

Philadelphia’s United States Custom House was designed by architects Ritter & Shay and constructed from 1932 to 1934. The towering art deco structure was a deliberate “pump-priming” investment by the federal government in the midst of the Great Depression; the construction of the Custom House employed nearly 4,000 workers.

BCA was hired to evaluate finishes deterioration at the monumental metal windows at the Custom House’s base. The deterioration was particularly notable because the windows had been painted only seven years prior. BCA performed a conditions survey of the metal windows that included metal alloy identification, cross-section analysis, and film thickness
measurement. BCA used the results of the analysis to design a repainting project that combines a high standard of surface preparation with a high-performance coating system to ensure an increased service life. BCA was also recently retained to identify interior architectural features, such as artwork, that require special protection during the upgrade project. BCA will specify construction protection for these features and provide construction phase services.