Multi-Family High Rise Renovation Fixes Water Infiltration Issues

Union Towers I in Weymouth, Mass., was suffering from moisture intrusion and heat loss. The approximately 60,000 square feet, 11 story brick residential building with retail stores on the first floor was built in the early 1970s without proper insulation, and had dealt with water infiltration issues from day one.

The 11 story brick residential building with retail stores on the first floor was built without proper insulation, and had dealt with water infiltration issues from day one.
The 11 story brick residential building with retail stores on the first floor was built without proper insulation, and had dealt with water infiltration issues from day one.

“Wind was blowing through the windows and the building was covered with sealant,” says Architect Bob MacLeod, RA, of McKinnell, McKinnell & Taylor Inc. “The cost to repair the deteriorating brick and mortar joints was determined to be prohibitive. We knew we needed to coat the entire building with an air barrier to make the building tight and we wanted to provide additional insulation for increased thermal performance. Updating the aesthetic of the building with a modern design was also a priority.”   

After talking with Sto distributor, Wayne Blounts with Kamco Supply of Boston, and touring other buildings with Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems, they determined that a Sto reStore Level 3 Overclad with a StoTherm ci system would provide a cost-effective solution while also delivering the additional insulation they desired. They specified a StoTherm ci Lotusan system with a 1.5-inch EPS for the renovation project.

StoTherm ci Lotusan is a continuous insulation wall system. The wall cladding integrates several components; StoGuard, waterproof air barrier, StoTherm insulated cladding and drainage, and StoLit Lotusan, a textured finish with self-cleaning properties that mimics the self-cleaning capabilities of the lotus leaf.

“At first, they were going to use forms and metal panels for shapes and we are so pleased they chose the StoTherm ci Lotusan system,” says Blounts.  “Having continuous insulation was a big factor in their decision to give the apartments an energy upgrade with external insulation, along with easy maintenance and an attractive design.”

Overcladding the brick with the StoTherm ci Lotusan created an energy efficient façade.
Overcladding the brick with StoTherm ci Lotusan created an energy efficient façade.

“Overcladding the brick with the StoTherm ci Lotusan from top to bottom created an airtight, energy efficient façade,” notes MacLeod. “And with the design flexibility of the system we could creatively separate the design of the façade with horizontal and vertical patterns to give it more character.”

The windows were also replaced, which proved to be an interesting challenge. According to applicator Dinko Beharic of Rima Designs LLC, when the carpenters were removing the windows, his team would follow in and apply a double coat of Sto Gold Coat, the ready-mixed fluid applied air and moisture barrier membrane, sealing the windows to eliminate any potential leaking. Doubling the Sto Gold Coat also made it impossible to see the brick through it.  

“We continued to work that way, sealing, caulking, flashing, and pre-wrapping along every step of the process,” says Dinko.

Another challenge was maneuvering around the large building. 

“We used three, 80-foot boom lifts, swing staging off the side of the building,” says Dinko. “Safety is always our first priority and we remained safe, as did all of the occupants. On particularly windy days we couldn’t get up there to work, especially when we got to the top floors.”

StoLit Lotusan is a textured finish with self-cleaning properties that mimics the self-cleaning capabilities of the lotus leaf.
StoLit Lotusan is a textured finish with self-cleaning properties that mimics the self-cleaning capabilities of the lotus leaf.

When the façade overclad project was approximately 80 percent complete, there was a break due to a very cold winter. The application team added primer to all the base coat and took every precaution. They experienced extreme cold, snow and rain. During the winter break, the team was proud to report no leaks or concerns of any kind, which was especially important because the building was occupied the entire time.

Union Towers I expects to see decreases in energy consumption once the project is complete. Dinko has personally used Sto’s systems on three of his own residential housing projects. 

“In the first year, I noticed a 30 – 40 percent energy savings on my heating and cooling costs directly due to the Sto system,” says Dinko.

The massive size, the architect’s creative design and the self-cleaning, textured finish of Stolit Lotusan make this project stand out. 

“It now looks like a beautiful, new and completely different building,” says Blounts.

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