They had seen better days. The four 20-foot tall caryatids, had been perched on a landmark building 20 stories above lower Manhattan for 120 years. Collectively nick-named “Dorothy”, years of neglect and abrasive cleaning had left them, well, hazardous.
Modeled by Spanish immigrant, Fernando Miranda in 1895, they were created to grace the penthouse of architect Robert H. Robertson’s American Tract Society Building, one of the first steel framed skyscrapers in the city.
Boston Valley Terra Cotta was retained to give them the ultimate extreme makeover i.e. completely new bodies, heads and wings.
Using Hollywood style technology, the Boston Valley ARCH Design Lab built a complete digital stand-in created from some 500 photos taken before she was demount-ed from the building. Each sculpture was gently torn apart into 54 separate pieces and shipped to Buffalo in wooden crates.
Once at Boston Valley, These parts were re-scanned and matched against the original digital site model. The finished digital model was used to prepare laser cut wooden profiles and armature pieces, so she could be rebuilt as a single assembly, instead of individual pieces on individual sculptors tables.
Once the master model was complete, molds were made to account for each of the different four corner mounting conditions. (the structure was out of square).
The first Dorothy is scheduled for re-installation July 2013. Watch this space for updates. If you are in the area be sure to say hi. You might also notice the new sculptural residential tower nearby, created by that youngster Frank Gehry.