In an article in The Times on 11th April 2015, it was highlighted that $277 million was spent on trying to remove the rust. No matter how you look at it. $277 million is a lot of money; I wonder how and why an all-American (albeit French) icon was left to get into such a state in the first place?
My first question is why was the rust allowed to build and break down such an iconic structure to a point where its renovation cost as much as $277 million?!
‘There were cracks in her left eye, in her lip, in her nose and in her chin, she had a big stain on the front of her neck, almost like a drool. She had rust boogers’ wrote Jonathan Waldram in his book ‘Rust: The Longest War’.
A sorry state indeed for America’s First Lady, especially since her construction in the 1800s was such an epic undertaking in the first place.
Construction on a massive scale
Just to hold the 46m high statue upright requires a pedestal the height of a 30 storey office block. It was (and perhaps still is) the biggest concrete structure in the world. Over 240 men worked over a gruelling winter to complete it. The unusual shape makes safety scaffolding impossible so the construction was as difficult as it was dangerous. 300 copper pieces were fitted with more than 300,000 rivets to the skeleton; her robes consist of over 3,360 square metres of copper. Her outstretched arm is 12.8 m long and just one fingernail weighs over one and a half kilos.
The sheer blood, sweat and (maybe) tears that went into the construction makes me wonder why no cleaning & restoration regime was put in place from the start. I suppose this wasn’t high on the list of priorities for her creators. The statue has been subject to various renovation projects over the years, the most recent of which was in 2013.
What needs to be done going forward to preserve such an important American icon?
I’m not American so maybe I shouldn’t really care! On the other hand I can’t help but think this could have been prevented through some form of rust management or inspection programme. Reading around the subject there have been some claims that layers and layers of paint helped to conceal the corrosion. Not to mention the plethors of structural problems that have plagued her since she was erected in the late 1880s.
I hope that the Statue of Liberty now receives the care and façade maintenance she needs to live for another 100 years and beyond.
Author Bio: Reece Wood is an author, thought leader, façade condition consultant and innovator of specialist property façade and investment protection solutions working within the commercial property sector throughout the UK, Europe, Middle East & South-East Asia.
Working alongside commercial building owners, asset management companies, architects, surveyors and property management companies Reece Wood inspects, designs and implements unique façade management and protection solutions, which increase the property investors’ ROI, building performance and brand value.