July 2, 2012 | last updated July 3, 2012 10:55 am

Travelers tower starts $30 million facelift

HBJ Photo / Greg Bordonaro
HBJ Photo / Greg Bordonaro
Travelers Tower in downtown Hartford is getting a $30 million facelift.

The iconic Travelers Tower in downtown Hartford is getting a facelift.

Travelers property and casualty insurance company, which has major operations in Hartford, is making a $30 million investment to do a major maintenance and rehab of the building, which it has owned since 1919.

Work on the projected two-year project has already gotten underway as construction crews from Consigli Construction Co. have been erecting scaffolding around the structure to prepare for the makeover.

Travelers' spokeswoman Jennifer Wislocki said the project will repair, upgrade and replace certain exterior building elements to the tower and main south building, which is necessary because of the wear and tear the complex has faced over the years.

Since the tower was built in 1919, water intrusion and weather has caused minor deterioration in the building that needs to be addressed, Wislocki said.

The repairs will include corrections to minor cracks in the granite surface of the building; repairs to mortar joints and surface corrosion; and the replacement of the building's windows, drainage systems and some cast iron elements, Wislocki said. The Travelers Tower will not be changed structurally as a result of the makeover, but a cleaning of the building could alter its appearance, Wislocki said.

"Travelers recognizes the tower is an iconic building in the city of Hartford and it's important to us that we maintain it," Wislocki said. While some larger corporate tenants have reduced their downtown Hartford footprint in recent years, Travelers has been holding and adding space. The company now employs 7,000 people in the state, with most located on their downtown Hartford campus.

Travelers has owned its tower since it was built in 1919 by architect Donn Barber, who also designed the Connecticut State Library and Supreme Court Building. At the time, the 527-foot tall tower was the seventh tallest building in the world. Now it's the second tallest building in Hartford behind City Place.

The building has 24 office floors and an observation deck on the 27th floor, which makes the buildings' total height comparable to a 34-story structure, Wislocki said.

Wislocki added that the building's facelift is not related to the Hartford's iQuilt initiative.

Part of the iQuilt plan calls for the creation of 1.5-acre outdoor space between Travelers Tower and the Wadsworth Atheneum that would create a single, integrated public space to be called Tower Square.

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