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Architectural Detail Experts | A Blog by Worthington Millwork

"Finish," Tradition, Statement: the Cornice is Something Special

Posted by Worthington Millwork on 12/11/19 5:00 AM

Americana 2 Perhaps some of you have made this observation, too. Before I became aware of cornices and other specific architectural features, there were buildings in my New York City neighborhood that I passed frequently—and that just "impressed" me. As classy. As "finished." I could not have told you, then, exactly what it was.

After I took a class in architecture with my wife, I passed the same buildings, of course. It amazed me how many of the buildings that I had just "liked" had cornices. And that started me thinking about how cornices evoked reactions of this kind.

I will focus on three reactions:

  • This building is really "finished." It was a sense that someone had cared about finishing touches. That emotion stood out most, it seems, when my eye traveled up the façade of the building, story by story, and then came—to continue the metaphor—"to the end of the story." That was the cornice, a declaration of completion as well as attractive in its own right.
  • This building has a respect for tradition. The building spoke of an awareness of architecture itself. Cornices, like many features we know, going back to Greece and Rome of antiquity. Perhaps at the functionality of the cornice, then, was more in evidence: concealing the line where wall and roof met in marble buildings and diverting rain from the walls of the building and the area immediately in front. But you don't need superb sculpture and texture to achieve those functions. Cornices were about beauty from the beginning.
  • This building has a sense of drama, making a statement. Since I am speaking quite personally, here, I will say that struck me, especially at night, with a lighted or partially lighted façade. I recall a modern A-frame building, mostly glass, that I saw against a deep blue night sky. The roof was dramatically and satisfying defined by a slender white cornice--lighted--against the sky. Now, that is a statement.

Not a great deal has changed, in basic terms, in the employment of cornices. They remain an outstanding architectural statement betokening a "finished" building and add drama.

What has changed, as we view the choices available to the modern builder, is that the "challenge" of installing a cornice has become the relative "ease" of using cornices. The material of choice, today, is no longer marble or other stone, but strong, lightweight fiberglass. Even a fairly recent "compromise" with stone—the terra cotta cornice popular for some time—now seems unnecessarily heavy and difficult to handle.

It has been our twin goals of Worthington Millwork to 1) create an ideal product in terms of quality and beauty and, at the same time, to 2) make that product as readily customizable, easy to order, and simple to install as we can make it. Over more than three decades of coming to understand the needs and working with the plans, budgets, and timetables of builders, we have come a long, long way.

The quality and beauty

The Worthington Millwork prefabricated fiberglass cornice works for any exterior building façade or interior architectural feature. Whether for new construction or restoration, our fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) is simple to use. The sections arrived matched to the profile and size of your project and you choose the decorative embellishments such as corbels.

Tradition has bequeathed us many styles of the cornice, and, at Worthington, you truly have your choice among literally hundreds of style variations and how they are finished and textured. A remarkable distinction of fiberglass, apart from its outstanding durability (resistance to damaging UV rays and weather) is friendliness to coatings that can mimic the color or texture (granite? glass? flakes?) of your building.

Durable and lightweight, paintable, customizable to your building's profile, and available in almost any color, our made-in-America fiberglass product honors the historical charm of the cornice: the "finished" look, the sense of architecture's great traditions, and the dramatic statement.

Making your job easy and effective

Our other abiding goal has been to make our product as easy as possible for builders to customize to their project, to order, and to install. An experienced professional engineer will work with your building plans and architectural specifications from the outset to walk you through measurements, selection and customization of styles, and your choice of textures and colors.

 We will explain in detail our requirements for submission of all specifications and such elements as connections, adjacent features, code considerations, and much more.

 Our turnaround time for orders is rapid as compared with almost any other type of material. Professional support for your takeoff is one on one. Worthington's experienced house specialist can get your project launched whether you are a homeowner, or architect, or builder.

 We know that you come to us for our experience, reputation, and ability to work with you to get the job done.

Definitely review our website for a concise, well-illustrated introduction to styles, finishes, and other elements. You will see that fiberglass cornices are among the half-dozen products that rank as our specialties. And that specialization extends to every aspect of our working relationship with you.

Topics: FRP cornice, polyurethane cornice, fiberglass cornice

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