Director Facilities and Capital Projects Frank Perrone and Director of Horticulture Louis Bauer collaborated this spring and summer on a restoration in the Palm House of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory.
Working constantly in and around the Palm House, Horticulture staff have noticed the deterioration, over time, of the spandrels—or panels—that span the width of the Conservatory above the doorway leading to the Potting Shed, the gardeners’ behind-the-scenes prep area. The panels are a feature that you may not have noticed: Stepping indoors, especially in winter, it’s hard to do more than experience the light and the plants growing in happy seclusion from the weather outdoors―except in summer, when most of the plants are outdoors enjoying the sunlight and warmth.
This spring, they discovered that behind the fiberboard, a makeshift solution from some time ago, the original spandrels had been left in place. But those, too, had deteriorated, and the Facilities team was determined to replace them this summer. Here are two shots that show the spandrels pre-1968, and in 1968, courtesy of Wave Hill’s first Director of Horticulture, Marco Polo Stufano.
The new spandrels were a project of the Wood Shop, using a design developed by Director of Facilities Frank Perrone and volunteer Alex Avakov. By late July, the space had been measured, the fiberboard and old wood panels removed, the space prepped, the wood cut, detailing added and the whole painted the characteristic blue of the Conservatory. Facilities maintainers Ricardo Chaguendo and Bryan Taveras and Lindsay Ruotolo, an Assistant Botanical Garden Maintainer, worked on building the spandrels. In this shot in the Wood Shop towards the end of July, it’s clear that Changuendo and Ruotolo are almost ready to begin installation.
The next step was for Hort staff to remove virtually all the plants from the space and for Facilities staff had erected the scaffolding. That process has started in the next shot. Facilities staff began the work of installation, as Chaguendo and Ruotolo demonstrate in this shot.Late last week, Assistant Director of Horticulture Wayne Morris replaced the wires that normally crisscross the area over and above the spandrels, supporting our sky-blue plumbago vine Plumbago auriculata and bright-orange flame vine Pyrostegia venusta. ANd the project is officially complete!
In fact, the spandrels cover the area where the newer Palm House meets the older Potting Shed, a change dating back to the 1970s. Today, the spandrels feature detail work that is more true to the historic character of the Conservatory.