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Building Restoration Contractors Association
Nicholson & GAlloway



Best Rates Now! Early Bird Deadline is August 9

WS4 Hands-on Construction of “Guastavino” Thin Tile Vaults

Two-Day Workshop

Friday, October 11, 7 am departure from Marriott Marquis to arrive at A. Ottavino Stone Workshop at  8 am - 5:00
Saturday, October 12, 7 am departure from Marriott Marquis to arrive at A. Ottavino Stone Workshop at  8 am - 4:00

clientuploads/2013_conference_art/P1080599.jpgSponsored in part by a grant from NCPTT Workshop.

"American architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries would often leave empty spaces in their blueprints and simply write, 'Guastavino here.' They had faith that Rafael Guastavino would create elegant, highly functional spaces to grace their buildings. Guastavino — part architect, part engineer — was particularly famous for his beautifully crafted, structurally powerful, tiled arched vaults." (An excerpt - read the full article from the Boston Globe.)

Participants will have the opportunity to construct a variety of simple “Guastavino” vaults. The morning of the first day will involve a demonstration of the construction, after which, teams of approximately six participants will have the opportunity to undertake “hands-on” construction of these vaults. Vaults will be constructed of single, double and triple wythes of tile, and may be load tested at a later date.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Lay out and initiate a simple tile vault
  2. Mix mortars to appropriate consistency and quantities to install both soffit and structural tile wythes
  3. Set soffit and structural tile to progress through multiple-wythe construction
  4. Experience the sequence of construction, including the breaking of joints
  5. Strike and clean joints, particularly in the soffit layer of tile
  6. Develop an appreciation for the craftsmanship that has been lost since the construction of vaults in so many important buildings across the United States

Fee: $575
Skill Level: Novice, though some trowel skills will be helpful.
Fee Includes: Breakfast, lunch, handouts, materials, transportation
Location: Ottavino Stone
Transportation: Subway
Dress Code: Casual (jeans) with good walking shoes
Recommended Equipment: Notebook and camera
Maximum Attendance: 60
Handicapped Accessibility: Ask APT for details
Continuing Education Credits: 13


  • Kent Diebolt, Founding Partner at Vertical Access LLC, has investigated a number of Guastavino Vaults in the United States and has researched and constructed vaults in Catalonia, Spain. He served as Program Chair for a one day symposium in 1998 entitled, “Preserving Historic Guastavino Tile Ceilings, Domes and Vaults,” which was sponsored by the New York Landmarks Conservancy and Columbia University with funding from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (The Symposium Proceedings and all of Guastavino’s patents were published in APT Bulletin Vol. XXX, No. 4, 1999).


  • John Ochsendorf, PhD, is a structural engineer and Associate Professor at MIT, with multi-disciplinary research interests including the history of construction, masonry mechanics, and sustainable design. Trained in structural mechanics at Cornell, Princeton, and the University of Cambridge, he conducts research on the structural safety of historic monuments and the design of more sustainable infrastructure. An expert on the mechanics and behavior of masonry structures, Ochsendorf collaborates with art historians, architects, and engineers on the study and structural assessment of historic monuments around the world. John is the author of "Guastavino Vaulting: The Art of Structural Tile" (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010) and several dozen journal papers in structural mechanics. He has been awarded a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. John is the principal author and organizer of the “Palaces for the People” exhibition on the work of the Guastavino Company which opened in Boston in 2012, is now at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC and will be at the Museum of the City of New York in 2014. Listen to NPR's Susan Stamberg interview John about the newly-opened National Building Museum exhibit on Guastavino (April 29, 2013).

  • Mallory Taub is an Energy Specialist at Arup in San Francisco, where she develops green building strategies for new construction and collaborates on life cycle analysis research.  Mallory is a recent graduate of the M.S. Building Science program at UC Berkeley.  During her prior graduate study in architecture at MIT, she worked with John Ochsendorf whose interest in sustainability led to her passion for thin tile vaulting.  She worked with the MIT Masonry Research Group as a project manager for the design and construction of a thin tile vault in the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in their triennial exhibition, Why Design Now?  Having collaborated on masonry vault projects in Boston, New York, Utah, Switzerland, and England, she is excited to share her skills and knowledge with at the APTI Conference.

  • Benjamin Ibarra-Sevilla is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and a Research Fellow at the Center for World Heritage Studies at the University of Minnesota. Benjamin is a registered architect in Mexico, and is a graduate of the Autonomous National University of Mexico and the University of Alcala de Henares, in Spain. Benjamin has conducted vaulting workshops with students at the University of Minnesota and at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.



For the first time in history, the population of cities exceeds that of the surrounding suburbs and countryside. New York City, after decades of population decline, has recently exceeded its peak 1970s population and continues to grow. Such growth, mirrored in older and newer cities globally, is countered by cities with shrinking populations in the United States and abroad. Both expanding and shrinking cities present new challenges that require preservationists to think broadly and collaboratively, themes that will be highlighted at APT NYC 2013.