NPS Netherlands Carillon Rehabilitation
The National Parks Service (NPS) awarded AFG Group, Inc. the contract to provide Construction Management services for the rehabilitation project on the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington Ridge Park, Arlington, VA. Rehabilitation efforts aimed to restore the historic monument and active musical installation, which required significant expertise in historical preservation and experience with structural restoration.
The 127-foot open-air steel structure adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery and bells were presented as a gift from the Netherlands to the United States as a token of gratitude for aid during and after World War II in 1954, after original construction was completed in 1960. However poor restoration choices during the most recent renovation in 1994 significantly accelerated the deterioration of the now 82-year-old National Memorial. By 2019, the extensive corrosion and water damage threatened the memorial’s structural integrity and required a massive repair effort to keep the Carillon safely standing. The NPS and Royal Netherlands Embassy began collaborations to restore and upgrade the Netherlands Carillon, including structural upgrades and the installation of additional bells and associated equipment.
AFG was engaged to provide full-time on-site Construction Management to the NPS for the removal and restoration of 1,784 steel panels, refurbishment of 50 bronze musical bells and installation of 3 additional bells shipped from the Netherlands (the largest of which weighs 12,654 pounds), installation of a new drainage system and high-tech AV, and lighting upgrades.
The team provided collaborative and innovative approaches of support to this project to improve safety and visitor experience by restoring and stopping the deterioration of the steel structure and making improvements to stairs and railings. The removal and installation of the bells necessitated the use of cranes, with each bell being shipped to a Dutch company for restoration. Following the restoration work, three additional bells were installed, accompanied by improvements such as a new music console and keyboard. Additionally, the rehabilitation project provided safe access to the observation decks for future visitors.
As a result of AFG’s astute attention to quality management, the rehabilitation was completed in time for the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, and this Grand Carillon once again stands tall as a testament to the American spirit and gratitude of the Dutch people for American assistance during and after World War II.