The Raymond Theater in Pasadena had been in business, more or less, for over 70 years before declining fortunes forced its closure. A recent adaptive reuse project involved brick and terra cotta veneer preservation. We saved all the orignal facade elements and recreated missing elements, such as the old marquee. This ensured the conservation of a part of Pasadena's historic streetscape.
The most egregious damage to the building was man-made, and resulted from the prior application of a 'modern' cement stucco veneer over a steel channel frame. This is a typical condition for older masonry structures, where projecting horizontal elements such as pediments and water courses are chipped back to facilitate installation of a new flatter surface in stucco or sheet metal. Removal of the damaged terra cotta was carefully executed to avoid additional damage to adjacent sound veneer units. Then new stainless steel anchors could be installed using epoxy adhesive in preparation for the final installation of new terra cotta units.
The brick, terra cotta, marble, and plaster components of the commercial face of the building were slated for preservation, but major alterations over the years had a significant impact on the original surfaces. Work at the Raymond theater called for all the restoration tools at our disposal.
As is so typical with terra cotta in this style of design and application, exposed areas such as the parapet balustrade had failed due to iron jacking and quake forces.
Careful removal of damaged terra cotta allowed the underlying steel support channel to be properly waterproofed and prepared for installation of new or repaired units.
Note also how different the front of the balustrade appears after repairs and complete abatement of old coatings, initially applied to hide damage and graffiti.
The most egregious damage was man-made, and resulted from the prior application of a 'modern' cement stucco veneer over a steel channel frame. This is a typical condition for older masonry structures, where projecting horizontal elements such as pediments and water courses are chipped back to facilitate installation of a new flatter surface in stucco or sheet metal.
Removal of the damaged terra cotta was carefully executed to avoid additional damage to adjacent sound veneer units. Then new stainless steel anchors could be installed using epoxy adhesive in preparation for the final installation of new terra cotta units.
The same pediment now completely restored. Note also the color of the decorative brick surface after abatement of all coatings from the building veneer.
Several locations had chipping damage that could be repaired using specialty repair mortars, so that entire terra cotta units could be saved without complete replacement, saving valuable budget resources for other issues. These types of repairs to terra cotta are typically formed in place and allowed to fully cure prior to the application of a special color-matched acrylic coating.
Here the finished installation shows the result of both new terra cotta units and repairs in-situ.
An equal, if not greater amount of facade damage was due to earthquake movement, in which numerous units were cracked and severely damaged.
In some cases entire areas lost terra cotta veneer material.
Careful matching of glaze and form by our terra cotta manufacturer allowed us to replace entire areas of loss with accuracy.
Prior to restoration, all brackets at the overhanging soffit had been previously removed and lost, probably to reduce the danger of falling masonry in future seismic action. Replication in matching terra cotta allowed us to re-create these important facade details. New stainless steel anchors dramatically reduced the chances of future failure.
It's always a pleasure to uncover decorative gems like this poly-chromed medallion, hidden for years behind 'improvements'.
Many of our projects contain more than one decorative medium, as true here at the Raymond Theater, where we worked in at least four media. The marble in the old entry area had suffered brutally at the hands of former owners.
Large areas of black Negro Portoro marble had been damaged and removed during various iterations of the entry.
Fortunately for us the stone is still actively quarried and was available to rebuild these areas.
We also performed gypsum plaster restoration at all decorative plaster surfaces slated for preservation.
Work usually involved the use of silicone rubber molds to assist in accurate reproduction of missing and damaged decorative elements.
Reproduction in new plaster and careful insertion into the original wall was detailed and sanded prior to final painting.
Final painting of the plaster surfaces brought out all the lovely detail that had been hiding for the previous 30 years.
The interior of the theater was not returned to its original use, but the stage and lower auditorium were preserved and restored as a common area for the building's tenants.
With the paint and coatings removed from the original terra cotta and brick surfaces, the original articulation of the facade has been reasserted.
Finally, we can see the Raymond Theater again as it looked in its glory days.