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Fixing the Cracks in the Justice System

(March 2013) posted on Thu Feb 28, 2013

The United States Supreme Court gets a full-building fabric wrap during restoration.


By Adrienne Palmer

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The justices of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., may have life tenure, but that’s not true for the actual building in which they work.

After a chunk of marble fell 100 feet and broke into pieces onto the stairs leading to the entrance in 2005, the interior of the structure was in need of some serious repair. Over the course of seven years, deterioration also occurred due to weather, age, and nature. By 2012, it was determined that a full restoration was needed.

In order to hide the restoration in progress, however, the 78-year-old white Vermont Imperial Danby marble structure would be covered with a full-building fabric wrap that replicated the Supreme Court’s façade.

The players for the job included: Safway Scaffolding & Access Solutions (www.safway.com), responsible for the scaffolding itself; Eagle Enclosures(www.eagleencl.com), which specializes in jobsite-protection solutions and shepherded the output work; and two print providers - Merritt Graphics (www.merrittgraphics.com), in Hartford, Connecticut, and Crystal Clear Imaging (www.ccimaging.net) in New Orleans.

Working with the provided high-resolution photos, Merritt created a template to reproduce the images to exact size. Cutaways at the bottom of the building meant the fabric needed to be specially designed and measurements had to be precise.

Merritt Graphics took on the print work for the north and south facades. The shop output approximately 38,000 square feet of graphics, all onto Top Value Fabrics 8-ounce mesh 1000-denier Double Sided Banner media, using its HP Scitex XL 1500 printer with Fujifilm Sericol NH Series solvent inks. Nearly 70 panels were produced, each measuring 81 to 100 feet; these were then hot-air welded with a Leister Uniplan welder and stitched together for added assurance.

Crystal Clear Imaging focused on the West Wing portico. The New Orleans shop utilized its 6-color Jeti 5000 printer to produce this section of the Supreme Court building wrap - outputting onto nearly 17,500 square feet of 8-ounce 1000-denier mesh from Top Values Fabrics.

In case of bad weather, the mesh needed to be easily removable, so special pockets were created at the top of the building wrap. And to ensure the restoration crew and its equipment could move about freely, a 30-foot gap between the printed fabric and scaffolding was provided.

"The job involved lots of overtime and lots of truck time," says Phil Calvo with eagle Enclosures, "but everyone carried their weight and it was done on time. We knew a deadline extension was out of the question, which elevated the importance of the job."


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