Cleveland Museum of Art in University Circle

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s (CMA) five-year, $350 million renovation and expansion plans required asbestos abatement and demolition of the 1958 and 1983 buildings, salvaging selected building components, and excavation of the site for new construction of a new West Wing — mirroring the East Wing galleries — and a new glass atrium.

Removing Asbestos, Not Art

One challenge was how to complete the asbestos removal and other environmental work in the 1958 building in close proximity to a still operational museum with a full schedule of activities.

Precision coordinated work in available areas as available and off shift when required. One area demanded the installation of a waterproof membrane prior to abatement activities to protect the occupied space below.

Materials were removed from the site without causing any interference to the ongoing CMA operations.

Salvaging History

The challenge of salvaging historical building granite facade and plaza components on the project was escalated due to the inaccessibility of normally used lifts or cranes.

Therefore the work was performed utilizing a swing-stage suspended scaffold platform engineered to work off the building structure along with a cable hoist installed to handle the granite pieces.

Demolition Without Debris

Another challenge was to demolish the 1958 building to make sure debris didn’t fall into the 1971 portion of the building. The 1958 building and 1971 building shared a common wall, which contained the CMA library and lobby area which remained open to the public.

We responded by separating with special techniques the 1958 building from the 1971 and 1916 building level by level, and bay by bay. This required removing a 250 foot-long, three-stories-high section of the 1958 building essentially by hand to minimize the risk of damage to remaining buildings. Since the 1971 building had no exterior wall, we constructed a temporary exterior wall for protection and weather proofing. After carefully and safely separating the buildings, normal demolition of the structure was able to occur.


Cleveland Museum of Art


Cleveland, Ohio


Asbestos abatement, salvaging building components, demolition and excavation for the Cleveland Museum of Art’s $350 million renovation and expansion plans.

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