Climbing Fragile Church Spire for Restoration

Case Study:

How to Install Netting on a 215-Foot Historical Church Spire

What was the challenge?

The Arch Street United Methodist Church on North Broad Street is a historic church built in 1870 in downtown Philadelphia. After 155 years, the stone structure proved to be crumbling and portions of the stonework were falling down. The defects were discovered during an inspection of the central spire that identified its many weak points. The church was committed to restoring the spire because its soaring presence above the city serves as a beacon to the community and a landmark of the Philadelphia skyline. The first restoration step was to secure the steeple while funds were raised for the repairs.

The crew’s safety and the steeple structure were the primary considerations when installing protective wrapping around the spire. The team evaluated several options, including hiring a crane with a hanging basket. This was not the best option due to the risk of the free-swinging basket hitting the stonework: a basket at that height is subject to instability and high winds, especially in the Philadelphia winter.

A second option was to access the spire through the roof hatch. Accessing the steeple with teams of climbers could damage the loose stonework and would be a slip risk to the team. The third option was to build scaffolding, allowing stonemasons to access the steeple. It would have cost $300,000 and irreparably damaged the historic stone façade. Scaffolding must be drilled into the stone at short intervals causing irreversible damage and driving up the restoration price.

What was the solution?

The industrial climbing team used by the engineers for the restoration project, engaged Alpha Platforms to provide a safe and cost-effective solution to their extreme height access problem.
An A-300 lift was utilized both to inspect the roof and allow the crew to install protective netting around the steeple without making contact with the building. The secured netting eliminated the risk of falling stones and debris crashing to the ground.
The service provided to the church was all-inclusive, supplying a full-time IPAF-Certified lift operator, a road closure permit, and traffic management.
The specs of our state-of-the-art A-300 lift:

What was the outcome?

Installing the netting around the steeple took just three days in February 2021. The full-time operator navigated the cage around the steeple using a 32-foot-long jib boom. The 12-foot-long basket gave the crew ample working space while still enabling access to all sides of the steeple during the netting installation.

Alpha Platforms’ highly trained crew and superior extreme height access ensured the netting was installed safely and at a reasonable cost.

All this was accomplished while the A-300 remained in the same parking spot next to the church. As if that capability wasn't incredible enough, the work was conducted during a major snowstorm through wind and sleet that did not affect the basket’s stability.

Our precise German-made lifts have become the height access method of choice for those who try them, as they combine unmatched productivity, safety, and reach.
Notable 300 Foot Boom Lift Capabilities
  • 12-foot extra large cage
  • 1,168 lbs lifting capacity for crew, equipment, and materials
  • Cage rotation 2 x 84°
  • Side reach up to 106 feet
  • Unique "under and up" or "up and over and back" access
  • Smooth controlled motions to move close to and around glass and fragile structures
  • Jib length 31’6’’
  • Parking in tight spaces 8’6’’ wide

Alpha Platforms has helped hundreds of teams like yours

Customer Testimonials
from Case Studies

Carlos Honorio Jr.
Honorio Designs

Great experience! First time on the 300 foot boom for a Local Law Facade Inspection. Vadim, the operator, was in complete control of the equipment and made the whole process smooth. Flagmen secured the area below and allowed my Client to operate their hotel without any disturbance. Honorio Designs Architecture, PLLC

Brian Rosado Hernández
The Telecom Company Foreman

Excellent service, arriving on time every day, responsible with the load limit, very attentive to the lubrication and controls of the crane.

Thomas Inciarte
Telecom Company Representative

Excellent team working with us, always willing to do anything for the best

The Signage Company Owner

It was a pleasure to work with Alpha Platforms, the crew was skilled and helpful, the equipment was top-notch. Our installers appreciated the security of the platform vs working off of a swing stage, it made their job easier and more efficient. From the first meeting thru to the end of the work day everything ran as smoothly as it could. We will definitely be partnering with Alpha Platforms on future projects. Thank you for your help!

Ryan Hughes

I had an emergency project on a 140' high voltage tower and needed Alpha Platforms next day. They were so helpful and expedient walking me through the entire process so I was comfortable with the deal. They showed up to my site next day and cut about 2 days off of the project due to the safety, speed and efficiency of their lift and operators. I'll never rent or hire another lift company. I would recommend Alpha platforms for all your high reach needs.

Liz Jones

Jon told me that it was a pleasure to work with Alpha Platforms, the crew was skilled and helpful, the equipment was top notch. Our installers appreciated the security of the platform vs working off of a swing stage, it made their job easier and more efficient. From first meeting thru to the end of the work day everything ran as smoothly as it could. City Sign Service, Inc. will definitely be partnering with Alpha Platforms on future projects.

Justin N.

That is a fine piece of equipment! And the competent, professional group that goes along with it is just the cherry on top. I really appreciate everything. I'm sure we'll be able to use Alpha again in the future as we get these opportunities. In fact, it will only help our business knowing we have a safe, reliable solution to these over 50‘ height challenges.

Byron Nivelo

We had an exceptional experience with Alpha! They are professionals, great operator team. Overall reliable, recommended will certainly return for my future needs hands down.

Nick Muhlon

My company used alpha lifts to clean a 14 floor building and they were great. Very accommodating, always on time, and will work with you to get the job done safe and sound. The lifts they provide are state of the art and can pretty much reach any low rise building under 250 feet. I’d recommend them to anyone doing window cleaning or facade cleaning, or anything king of height access work!

Mike P.
Building restoration services family business owner

We wanted to give it a try and see what this boom truck could do. We loved the idea of a wide basket that could reach up to 30 feet and get to the brick wall over the roof. The main reason we loved the truck was how it maneuvered the boom to lower the bricks inside a dumpster, which was located behind the truck. It saved us at least one extra day of work. It all went great.

Jason A.
Director of operations, family-owned regional electrical services provider

Alpha has the most efficient and leanest site setup time I’ve ever seen. My brother, who is the top climber of our group, first struggled to understand how this cage could go around the tower better than the crane - and when it did the whole 360°, he became a believer. Also, each laborer said how incredibly safe they felt - very different from the small crane basket. We were able to secure and push back the panels in place without the basket ever moving.

Joseph A.
Head stone mason, national cathedral

The project was performed successfully, and we were really glad to have contactless means of reaching the building, as we all know that pipe scaffold might damage the structure, in this case, very very sensitive.

Have a tough height
access project
need help with?
Thank you!
We received
your request
Our Team will be in touch
as soon as possible