Cleaning an icon: Cincinnati Union Terminal

When a treasured, cultural asset like the Cincinnati Union Terminal (CUT) is restored, there are more stakeholders than in a typical construction project who are paying very close attention.  

So, when Cincinnati, Ohio’s historic train station and museum center was slated for a $228 million renovation beginning in 2016 (its first full structural rehab since it opened in 1933), careful consideration was required to update the building for functionality and aesthetics without causing any damage.

In progress cleaning of Cincinnati Union Terminal - photo courtesy Lang Masonry & Restoration
In progress cleaning of Cincinnati Union Terminal - photo courtesy Lang Masonry & Restoration

That measure of care applied to many procedures and processes that would take place on the structure as part of its rehabilitation, but especially so when it came to cleaning the iconic exterior of the building, clad in Indiana limestone and designed by Alfred Fellheimer and Steward Wagner, as well as Paul Cret – architects who were reportedly inspired by Finland’s Helsinki Central Station.

With an arsenal of restoration experience in their portfolio, including the Leveque Tower in Columbus, Ohio, the Thompson Library at Ohio State University, and dozens of others, Lang Masonry & Restoration Contractors won the bid to repoint and clean the structure’s exterior limestone, including the areas surrounding the terminal’s showstopper – a 18-foot-diameter, 5-ton clock affixed within its signature archway.

Cincinnati Union Terminal - photo courtesy Lang Masonry & Restoration
After extensive testing, the entire limestone facade of the Cincinnati Union Terminal was cleaned with ReVive. Photo courtesy Lang Masonry & Restoration

GBBN Architects Inc.; preservation architect John G. Waite Associates, Architects; and Lang Masonry, couldn’t have been more serious about testing to ensure the right products and procedures were selected for the station’s limestone, granite and brick work.

Working with Cathy Hughes, an independent rep at AMS Technical Marketing, Lang created several different test panels on the building with different variables to determine exactly the right cleaner, dilution, application method and more.

Test panels revealed ReVive to be the most effective cleaner for the building. Photo courtesy Lang Masonry & Restoration

To test which cleaner would best tackle a myriad of stains, including biological staining, carbon, copper and rust, the team tested ReVive, 2010 All Purpose Cleaner, Light Duty Restoration Cleaner, 766 Limestone & Masonry Prewash with Limestone & Masonry Afterwash, ReKlaim with Limestone & Masonry Afterwash, Marble Poultice and Copper Stain Remover.

Crews proceeded to clean the terminal’s façade with ReVive (the test panel contest winner), a cleaner renowned for its particular efficacy on biological staining.

The $228 million renovation was the building's first full structural rehab since it opened in 1933. Photo courtesy Lang Masonry & Restoration
The $228 million renovation was the building's first full structural rehab since it opened in 1933. Photo courtesy Lang Masonry & Restoration

Lang Masonry’s excellent work on the restoration earned them the 2021 People’s Choice Award from the Ohio Masonry Association among many other accolades.

Learn more about Lang Masonry & Restoration Contractors.


This is a PROSOCO material advertisement only: photos and material comments within may not be exactly to as built conditions or terms. No such claims shall be made against PROSOCO, Lang Masonry or any contracting authorities involved in the construction herein.
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