Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center

Fort Ticonderoga, NY

Fort Ticonderoga is a National Historic Landmark and has been a museum since 1909. It is a stone fort built by the French military between 1755 and 1759 in New York on Lake Champlain. In 1759, French troops evacuated the Fort but not before blowing up the King's Magazine, "Le magasin du Roi". It lay in ruin and various stages of partial construction and stabilization for over 240 years until planning for reconstruction began in 2000. The goal was to create a historically accurate and environmentally friendly year-round educational facility to expand the Fort's importance to the community while preserving sensitive areas and remaining open to the public during construction.

Le magasin du Roi has been reborn as the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center, a faithful reconstruction of an 18th century military building outside with a 21st century education center inside. It is the largest capital project undertaken by the Fort since it opened to the public and it restores the original skyline, casting a shadow not seen since 1759. Many challenges were overcome to reach this historic moment.

Archeology discovered an original French gun platform and stone masonry bakery constructed in 1755. Micro-pile soldier piles were used to protect these sensitive areas. Bedrock was removed for basement and utility tunnel construction. Vibrations were monitored to protect adjacent sensitive structures.

The original Fort plan was discovered and the irregular footprint of the stone walls was different from the partial 1950s reconstruction. Inaccurate prior construction was removed. Less useable square footage resulted, requiring other Fort areas to be incorporated for mechanical spaces and the "Great Room" meeting space.

Because of height limitations, precast concrete planks were chosen as the floor structure. Long spans and unusual loads (people, cannons, and stone pavers) pushed some planks beyond typical limits. A reinforced bonded concrete topping created a continuous span condition and avoided thicker structure. Steel structure was provided where plank capacity was inadequate and to provide lateral bracing of the building and support of a masonry parapet and corbels.

A historically accurate French exterior appearance was recreated through traditional thick stone masonry walls built as veneer with reinforced concrete and masonry (CMU) backup to satisfy code requirements, traditional detailing, hand-forged hardware, and a wood roof with bell-cast eaves.