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Heading Bullet    Los Angeles City Hall Seismic Rehabilitation Project - Historic Restoration in City Hall
The Los Angeles City Hall retrofit project includes four major goals to safeguard the building's historic and cultural value during construction. These are:

To protect the historical fabric from damage during construction
To replace or restore building features that no longer perform their function (for instance a light fixture that no longer works).
To restore or reconstruct historical elements that have been removed.
To restore the building to its original 1928 look.
North Hall
Historic Monitor/Conservator
A historic monitor and conservator are periodically on site to monitor the progress of construction, to guide the project team when historic materials have to be removed during construction, and to guide the project team through the process that includes labeling, documenting, storing and reinstalling historic fabric. The historic monitor / conservator insures that the project is adhering to standards regarding the cleaning of historic fabrics and the manufacture of replica materials. The historic monitor’s charge is to insure that the historical fabric of City Hall is preserved for future generations.
Regions of primary Historic Interest and restoration are highlighted in green. Original metal electroler" newly restored and
hanging the rotunda
Protecting the Historic Fabric During Construction
Many of City Hall's public areas contain integral works of art such as ornate carved granite wall and door facings, mosaic floors, marble columns and walls, handcrafted wood doors, decorative hand painted ceilings, large intricate tile murals, and unique glass windows.
In order to protect these against damage during construction, covers, barriers and barricades have been installed over or around items that cannot be removed.
Plywood protects the marble floors on the 3rd floor, while plywood barricades along the marble walls offer protection against construction crews' inadvertently damaging the walls. Plywood boxes erected around the base of each column in the Council Chambers protects these columns from accidental damage during construction.
Plywood frame around
ornate carved granite door
at the north entrance at
1st Street
Restoration of the possible, Replication of the rest
Restoration of the Restorable
The 4 original public elevator cabs used between the 1st and 10th and the 4 used between the 1st and 22nd floors were decorated with ornate works of art removed nearly a half century ago. All but one have since been lost. The single remaining cab has been restored by Project Restore in 1993 and is being used as a modal to recreate and fabricate the remaining seven elevator cabs.
Historic electrical light fixtures were removed from their settings, cleaned, and restored to comply with current energy codes. Some fixtures were also replicated to replace modern fixtures installed throughout the years.
Other functional elements of the building containing cultural or artistic value such as handcrafted bronze and copper fixtures, door fixtures and stair railings, were removed from the building, cleaned and repaired.
Marble and tile in many of the public rest room facilities were removed during construction and will be reinstalled prior to reopening.
Baseboards, doors, and door frames throughout the building were removed and stored during construction.
Forty eight bronze inlaid elevator doors on floors 1, 2, and 3 will be cleaned and refurbished in-place, without removal.
Door pulls and stair railings are
among the metal fixtures that
are to be cleaned and reused.
Elevator doors are cleaned
and restored on the 2nd
This newly fabricated
elevator cab was replicated
to match the original
1927 elevator cab.
One of 12 hanging historic
lighting fixtures (shown
here boxed) were removed
from the ceiling of the
Council Chambers for renovation.
New Paint old Colors
Art conservators began the task of re-painting the 2nd and 3rd floors by preparing decorative paint restoration mock-ups. The mock-ups were the result of a thorough study of City Hall’s original paint designs. The mock-ups were strategically placed along the public corridors of the 2nd and 3rd floors. Each mock-up covered an area of ceiling 3 to 4 feet wide where the ceiling, cornice and wall have been re-painted with the colors the art conservators have determined were the original colors.
The areas within the white outlines in the pictures below contain the mock-ups of the original colors used in 1928. The tonal differences are due to a tint lacquer that was applied over the original paint.
2nd floor in the main corridor hub near the main elevators 2nd floor in the main corridor hub near the elevator lobby The ceiling trim in the 3rd floor Council Chambers corridor (about 2 ft. long) has been repainted to show the original colors used in 1927.
Restoration of the possible, Replication of the rest
Historic Walls
The shearwalls are an intrinsic part of the seismic rehabilitation of City Hall so the installation of the shearwall structure required the removal anything that stood in its path. Where shearwalls intersected historic fabric or historic walls, the historic fabric had to be removed. Since demising walls cut across the path of the shear walls on many floors, those existing walls had to be cut back to give the construction crew space to work. Replacing these demising walls once the shearwall has been placed is a part of the historic restoration effort.
The shear wall construction method shown is called shot crete. The concrete is blown out of a hose and on to a reinforced wall.
The area in red is what is referred to as the central core. The central core extends into the foundations deep beneath the building.
Restoration is required where installation of a shear wall (the vertical gray mass) was required. This area is in the corridor leading to the Council Chambers.
Although many of the tower floors contained little original fabric by 1998, the 14th floor did still have some original rooms. When the 14th floor underwent demolition to prepare for the installation of the shear walls a special effort was made to save these original internal walls, halls and doorways. For the installation of shear walls a clearance had to be created and the internal walls had to be cut back away from the perimeter of the new shear walls. The photo below (at 1) shows such a cut back. The middle picture (2) shows the replacement wall already installed and the photo at the far right (3) shows the wall after wood trim has been replaced and initial painting completed. This operation had to be performed not only on the 14th floor, but on the 2nd, and 3rd floors.
1 2 3
14th floor historic rooms. The three photos above show the progression of restoring a portion of historical fabric removed for construction. In picture #1 the shear wall which has already been poured is the wall containing the windows. The historic wall, which appears in picture 1 in gray, was partially removed in order to install the shear wall. (2) The newly restored wall; and (3) after the wood fabric restoration. Once complete the entire wall will be pained.
Fixing the Face of the Building
Jagged diagonal lines in
the terra-cotta block
(above) represent cracks
or breaks in the terra
cotta that have been
The night crew works by lights
installed on the swing stages.
Here missing terra cotta blocks
in the tower have been removed
by masons for replacement.
Granite removal
on Spring Street.
The granite on the
lower floors appears
darker than the mid
level and tower floors
which are clad
in terra cotta.
City Hall uses large amounts of Granite, and terra cotta for the building's face or "skin". This difference in material accounts for the difference in color in the photo at right between the high and midrise floors, and the low rise floors. During the latter half of 2000 and the first months of 2001 the outside of the building underwent a major cleaning. Particular attention was given to the methods used to clean these materials, and review by the project's historic team assisted the City in determining the least harmful methods of cleaning.
Masons install new granite steps alongside the original granite at the Spring Street steps. One of three historic glass windows at the south entrance. Replacement and refurbishment of the windows on the 10th floor The nearly completed rotunda
Guiding these efforts was the historic team, which was composed of a representative from OES, FEMA, Mellon and Associates, A.C. Martin Partners / Levin and Associates, the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP, California), and the City of Los Angeles.
Agencies and consultants involved in City Hall’s Historic Restoration
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
the Office of Emergency Services (OES), (California)
the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP), (California)
Project Management Division, Bureau of Engineering, City of Los Angeles
Levin and Associates
Mellon & Associates
ACMartin Partners