Despite the severe structural damage to the URM building behind, the decorative street-face of the builidng was relatively well-preserved, and left enough information to allow a faithful and accurate restoration of the facade.
Over the years, successive earthquakes culminating in the Northridge earthquake, had left the theater facade in a contained and isolated condition.
Our preliminary surveys identified these five media, and later contract and planning permutations increased the number of materials addressed in the facade restoration project to seven.
The cast stone parapet area was installed in a manner contemporary for the age of original construction, with later seismic braces added. Iron-jacking had already driven the decision to remove the decorative finials.
The Northridge quake had expanded upon the damage wrought by normal weathering and iron-jacking, and the entire upper assembly was clearly out of plane and structurally at risk.
This detail shows the internal decay of the mild steel supporting framework and how seismic stress was relieved in this crucial structural area. The earthquake-related cracks allowed moisture to penetrate the building envelope and begin the steel decay process.
The lower portion of the facade was a sad example of how building facades can be changed over the years, and not necessarily for the better. Here the original steel framework for some of the lower decorative elements was still in place, even if the original trim had been removed.
Prior to removal of the cast stone parapet units, we performed a thorough survey with measurements to assist us in the planning for later re-installation.
The scaffolding that allowed for access to the work area was modified to also provide support for the heavy cast stone units during hoisting and removal.
Multiple chain-falls with hoisting and sling arrangements were required to make the removal safe and effective.
The primary method of removal involved making relief cuts in the joints between masonry units. Here the relief is being furnished using a drill becuase our diamond saw blades were not able to reach the joint area.
Congruent with the relief cuts at the joints was the selective demolition of the backup masonry, in order to free the unit and avoid damage.
Then the large 350+ pound units could be safely lifted from their position and hoisted to an adjacent staging area.
A second hoisting system was then used to lower the cast stone units to the ground at the storage and restoration area.
Once the upper units were safely removed, we continued to slowly remove the backup brick and expose the lower cast stone units.
As more bricks and backup masonry were removed, the lower cast stone pieces were exposed for safe and undamaged removal.
We could then safely remove the last of the decorative cast stone pieces slated for removal as well as complete demo and preparation of the area for additional structural work prior to re-installation.
Here we see brick removal down to the lowest level of removed units. Notice the old mild steel anchors into the brick, typical construction detailing for this type and period of work.
Soon our restoration area was filled with cast stone pieces like these, each awaiting cleaning and patching prior to re-installation.
Some of the cast stone trim pieces came down with cement stucco attached.
We also were responsible for terra cotta roof tiles. Here salavaged tiles are being prepared for cleaning prior to re-installation.
While the cast stone pieces were being restored, we began work on the other elements of the decorative facade. This detail shot shows a 'clamshell' that used to be above the old entry awning and under the main central window.
This old iron framework was all the remaining historic fabric we had to work with, but it provided a template that assisted in our accurate reproduction of the decorative trim in FRC (Fiber Reinforced Concrete).
After stabilization and coating of the original steel, the reproduced trim could then be installed over the conserved support system.
Another area of unfortunate reinterpretation was the storefront system, with these areas above the windows filled in with later steel framework to support flat stucco panels.
Restrained use of an oxy-aceyline cutting torch allowed us to get back to the original steel framework.
Again using the singular historic photo, we reproduced the running horizontal ogee trim above using FRC. New wrought-iron work with flat signage panels was installed in the area below.
Our initial test cleaning mock-ups showed the original integral color of the scored stucco areas.
Unfortunately the structure behind the original remaining stucco was unsound and new stucco with supporting structural elements was required. Extremely accurate templates of the original scoring and stucco layout were taken prior to general removal.
New steel-framed backup suport was integrated with the small amount of original stucco to remain.
This integration of new with orginal fabric required careful coordination during the layout and installation.
The new stucco was integrally colored, just like the original, and the score lines painted in a matching reddish color.
Here a finish shot illustrates how a faithful reproduction can overcome the limitations of an original installation after it has failed over time, for whatever reason.
Another interesting aspect of this project was the original windows, which required replacement of numerous wood stiles and frames prior to installation of new glazing.
Final painting of these reproduced areas incorporated into the the original framework completed the integration.
Another challenge was the reproduction of the ceramic tile storefront area. Here we have taken the original detail from the 1920s B+W photo and used historically documented color schemes to reproduce what we believe to be an appropriate interpretation of the original tile scheme.
The original wood storefronts were too modified over time to allow for restoration, so new structurally appropriate supporting walls under galvanized aluminum window frames replaced the existing systems. Cement backer board substrate provided a stable platform for the new tile.
This colorful layout made a previously dull commercial space 'pop', and provided a decorative framework for the storefronts of future tenants.
The flanking columns at the main entry were treated in a similar fashion.
Careful layout and placement of the tile components allowed for a visually balanced installation.
Meanwhile, the upper cast stone and stucco columns were completely cleared of original red common brick and deteriorated steel, where required.
After removal of the original red brick backup, a new cast-in-place concrete support was installed.
Removal and replacement of the flanking brick supports with new CMU was augmented with supporting steel components that worked around the need for support from the original hot-riveted steel angle columns.
Here clean-outs are being established over newly-installed red brick. The original steel box supporting this entire assembly was treated to remove rust and then coated with oxide primer.
To ensure proper support and mitigate reliance on the original steel support, galvanized steel angle was installed underneath the original platform.
Meanwhile, the cast stone components were being cleaned and restored in the work area below.
A new 3/8" thick hot-dipped galvanized angle steel structure to support the salvaged cast stone installation was installed to attach to the new concrete support wall.
New clips were attached to the primary support and provided the actual attachment points for the salvaged cast stone units.
Here the salvaged cast stone units are being installed with stainless steel pins and clips to the new support wall at the side.
The installation then became a repetitive process of hoisting cast stone units into place and securing them with stainless steel clips.
Since the installation closely resembled the original installation sequence, the pieces were installed from bottom to top. Note also the locations of the original finials, with the original mild steel anchor cored out to prepare for installation of new cast stone units.
Our multiple-support hoisting system allowed maximum flexibility in the installation of so many odd-shaped units.
In some cases two hoists were required to accurately place the salvaged unit.
Here the salvaged cast stone pieces are installed, along with newly manufactured cast stone finials.
Final detailing included the installation of pointing mortar in all the joints.
A mixture of new and salvaged terra cotta roof tiles was installed over the new matching roof areas on either side.
Our final steps involved the installation of a new, matching display cover and arcade at the entry, along with a new blade sign at the corner, all derived from the historic photo as faithfully as the image quality allowed.