When the original model of the RCA Building La Maison Francais, and the British Building was uncrated this year after many years in storage, it was in need of refurbishing prior to its exhibition. Although the model could be appreciated readily as an extraordinary piece of work, its full beauty and workmanship became apparent after an extensive cleaning and restoration. This project – a labor of love – fell to Hans Clausen, a professional model builder and restorer.
In restoring the model, Clausen first cleaned it thoroughly and evaluated just what original pieces were available to reposition. He replaced façade bricks, windows, detailed ceramic pieces that belong beneath the windows, and other elements. Then Clausen oiled the entire model and fashioned necessary replacement parts.
“Time, pressure exerted by the model’s own weight, temperature changes, and moisture from humidity,” Clausen points out, “caused portions of the façade wood to come away from the underlying wood structure as did smaller pieces simulating the stone façade and a number of windows. Also, the wood basically dried out – it was in need of a good oiling.”
Two months after it took Clausen to get the model in shape to meet the public, he is still in awe of the fine workmanship that originally went into building the model. He adds, “Just imagine the impact this model must have had when it was first presented. Here it is, almost seven feet tall, taller than most men, and the buildings this edifice was going to replace were not more than four or five stories.”
- ROCKEFELLER CENTER INFORMATION EXCHANGE