Building a Vault in the Style of Rafael Guastavino


Kent Diebolt, founder of Vertical Access, recently spent two days in July working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with John Ochsendorf, a group of his students and two masons from the International Masonry Institute (IMI), building a mock-up of a vault in the Guastavino style for the upcoming exhibition, Palaces for the People. Years since its first conception, John was recently successful in getting funding for a major exhibition that opens this fall at the Boston Public Library and will travel to the Museum of the City of New York and The National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

Our interest in the mock-up project was to construct portions of the vault with known faults (primarily delaminations between tile wythes). VA Partner Kelly Streeter has done some preliminary NDT testing using ultrasound to evaluate the structural integrity of multi-wythe tile vaults that has been promising. The MIT vault, constructed with known delaminations at varying depths will allow for more empirical testing of the technology. Kelly and Kent will be presenting the results of this ongoing research at the Construction History Society of America (CHSA) meeting at MIT this fall.

We’d like to say thank you to John for including us in this effort. It was another great learning experience and a pleasure to share in the group’s enthusiasm for the work.

Additional Information:

The Guastavino Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

VA Research, The Guastavino Timeline 1842 – 1968