Completed in 1908 and billed as the Southeast’s first skyscraper, the Van Antwerp Building is a historical treasure in downtown Mobile, Alabama. Thanks to its purchase by the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) and a comprehensive renovation plan, the building is once again an architectural landmark. Thompson Engineering assisted in the building’s rebirth, providing environmental, roofing and building envelope, flood-proofing, geotechnical and structural engineering services.
The Van Antwerp Building was constructed of steel-reinforced concrete, a unique feature for buildings at that time. The 11-story skyscraper had a ground floor drug store featuring the longest soda fountain in town. The 10 floors above the drug store were leased as office space.
Thompson Engineering provided asbestos, lead-based paint, and universal waste consulting services associated with the building renovation. Numerous asbestos-containing materials were detected within the interior finishing materials located throughout the building. Our client required the complete interior demolition of the building to the exterior walls and concrete floors and ceilings.
Thompson prepared detailed abatement plans and specifications for the lead-based paint and asbestos impacted by the renovation. We also conducted third-party asbestos air monitoring and site observations during the removal of asbestos-containing floor tile, floor mastic, and pipe insulation. Additionally, Thompson’s structural team was involved. Plans called for the first floor of the building, including ornate walls and ceilings, to stay. The remaining floors were renovated for modern office space, and a new 11-story addition was added to the west side of the building to house new elevators, mechanical, and electrical components. Before that renovation work began, our geotechnical and structural engineers investigated and evaluated the original foundation of the building, as no existing as-built plans had been discovered. Following the foundation evaluation, the foundation plans, including required shoring for basement excavations, proceeded along with the remainder of the elevated structural work.
Thompson Engineering’s structural engineers also prepared documents for flood-proofing of the finished building in accordance with the City of Mobile’s Flood Plain Ordinance. Duties included analysis of FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for the area and structural analyses required to develop a flood proofing system to be deployed in the event of a flood. The system included structural flood walls, door dams and overall waterproofing of pipe and utility penetrations.