Los Angeles, Los Angeles County,
The Title Guarantee Building was converted for adaptive re-use as housing, and during the conversion the terra cotta veneer was restored using patching, replacement, and other restoration techniques.
Glaze failure was the result of numerous factors, starting with the likely mis-application of the original glaze or the poor control of local heat conditions in the kiln during secondary firing of the glazed surface.
Much of the damage on this particular structure was due to moisture penetration into the inner bisque body and later glaze failure as the water vapor began to force its way to the atmosphere. The original glaze presented an impervious barrier to this vapor and the surface failure was the result of the outer vitreous skin giving way to the hydro-static pressure from within.
On some terra cotta blocks, almost the entire face of the unit was missing or damaged.
Additional points of entry included cracks from stress relief due to seismic activity and movement.
Some factors in the glaze failure were contributed by the original craftsman who place a thin layer of colored pointing mortar over the interior bedding mortar. This decorative mortar should have been at least a 1/2 inch thick and preferably more.
Access for most of this work was achieved using suspended swing-stage scaffolding. This system is relatively cost-effective, but the architectural features of the tower required a combination of fixed- and suspended-scaffold access.
Repairs of this failed ceramic skin involved the manufacture of a silicone rubber mold taken from the surface of the original veneer. This could then be used to manufacture matching segments of the tooled surface in new water-based polymer repair mortar, which was later coated with an acrylic-based paint to match the original glazed surface.
Some difference in the final glazed appearance can be detected, but this difference will fade quickly as the acrylic coating cures and more closely matches the glazed surface.
Here a section of the facade shows how this technique allowed our craftspeople to very closely mimic the appearance of the original terra cotta surface.
Details on the facade such as this scupper were additional contributing factors since the cracked terra cotta units were perfect conduits for water to enter the building's outer layers.
This finish shot of the same area at the tower shows a complete and weather-resistant decorative skin. Despite the brittleness of the medium, the beauty of its appearance warrants the necessary maintenance and care over time.
Title Guarantee Lofts is yet another addition to the growing pool of adaptive re-use housing being created in downtown L.A.