The Reconstruction of the Belnord

A chamber was built beneath the fountain to house fountain plumbing drains

Page Ayres Cowley Architecture

The Belnord is a remarkable apartment building designed by Hiss and Weekes in 1908, that occupies a full city block containing 225 apartments with an interior landscaped inner courtyard. In 1966 The Belnord became the first designated building on the Upper Wets Side and was entered on the National Register of Historic Properties that same year.

In 2004, Extell Development gave Page Ayres Cowley Architecture (PACA) the first of many unusual projects, the first one being the reconstruction of a disassembled marble fountain. While working on the fountain, PACA was given additional tasks that included updating the Building Master Plan, replacing the retail storefronts, design and installation of a two pairs of monumental entrance gates, and a multiyear façade restoration program.  Most recently, PACA was retained by the new building owner, HFZ Capital Group for additional alterations to the courtyard to create new openings to the tenant amenity spaces, a new central lobby and the installation of a guard booth, previously approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. This year marks our twelfth year working on this building.


The fountain was disassembled and relocated to a storage yard near Newark, New Jersey when the basement space was excavated as part of a 74-711 Special Permit to create additional retail space and income to pay for the restoration and rehabilitation of the building.  Four years later the reconstruction began involving the cataloging 78 pieces with no drawings or inventory to assure that all of the carved blocks were salvaged.  The first task was a set of measured drawings of each stone that were then reconstructed, as if a three-dimensional puzzle, to establish the placement and orientation of each component piece.  At the reconstruction side in the courtyard a new reinforced concrete base was formed that would include a chamber beneath the fountain to house the fountain plumbing drains and control panel for the new basin lighting.

Until recently, there was no documentation as to the quarry or the sculptor of the fountain, which we confirmed was quarried and carved at the Rutland-Florence Marble Company in Fowler, Vermont. Working with A. Ottovino Corp. at their stone yard in Queens, each block was inspected and the conservation treatment noted and performed.  New plumping and an internal pump was provided as well as recesses for pool lighting to light the fountain at night.  Fiber optic lighting was inserted through the central water jet to illuminate the water spray in the basin.  The color of  the light can be changed via a control panel located in the basement beneath the fountain.  The lower pool of the fountain was lined and finished with traditional polished marble dust, white Portland cement  and plaster.

Belnord Extell Development

Project Team
Consulting Engineers: Wayman C. Wing
Marble Restoration Contractor: A. Ottavino Corp
Fountain Basin rehabilitation: Aqua-Tech Recreation Inc.
Electrical Contractor: Gunzer Electric Corp.
Plumbing J.E.S. Plumbing & Heating Corp.

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