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Filling City Hall voids

Filling City Hall voids

June 2, 1973: This photographic series demonstrates how a new foaming ceramic building material expands. Developed for City Hall repairs, the Epiceram FR-450 foam fills cracks and empty spaces. Unrestricted it has an expansion ratio of 10 to 1, but when shot into empty walls, it’s about 3 to 1.

In the June 17, 1973, Los Angeles Times, urban affairs writer Ray Herbert reported:

Since its dedication April 26, 1928, the lofty Los Angeles City Hall has seemed durable–a fitting seat for municipal government.

And even when the February, 1971, earthquake sent 11 miles of cracks shattering through its walls, City Hall still looked solid.

But solid it is not–and apparently never has been.

An examination of the earthquake damage revealed voids–empty spaces of varying sizes–behind the building’s gleaming exterior terra-cotta facing.

The spaces should have been solid. But crumpled newspapers, paper sacks and sawdust–all apparently dating from the time of construction–have been found where brick and mortar should be.

Workers repairing the earthquake damage say the voids were no accident.

They hint at careless workmanship or possible shenanigans. There was a lot of that, they say, in the Roaring 20’s.

To fill the voids, as well as help hold City Hall together, the walls are being injected with thousand of gallons of a foaming ceramic material developed especially for the project.

The material is shot into the walls. It expands, bonds, hardens like rock and leaves the wall tougher that before the earthquake. Or 45 years ago.

Engineers say the massive transfusion is one of the most unusual building restoration jobs ever undertaken. The project is the largest masonry structural repair job ever attempted. …

As Frank Bonoff, an engineer writing in a city Bureau of Engineering newsletter put it:

“If another earthquake hits City Hall, one thing can be expected. Even if the whole building collapses, the Epiceram FR-450 foam will stay in place.” …

About 35,000 gallons of ceramic injection material was supplied by Delta Plastics Co. of Santa Fe Springs.

City Hall underwent a major seismic retrofit from 1998 to 2001.

All these photos were published in the June 17, 1973, Los Angeles Times.

June 2, 1973: On a ledge outside a window on the 25th floor of Los Angeles City, Ralph Hunnicott points to 1971 earthquake damage. Hunnicott, project manager for construction firm for repairs of City Hall. This photo was published in the June 17, 1973 Los Angeles Times.

June 2, 1973: On a ledge outside a window on the 25th floor of Los Angeles City Hall, repair project manager Ralph Hunnicott points to 1971 earthquake damage. Credit: Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times

June 2, 1973: A workman on scaffolding injects foaming ceramic material into walls of City Hall to fill up voids left behind during the original construction in the 1920s.

June 2, 1973: A workman on scaffolding injects foaming ceramic material into walls of City Hall to fill voids left behind during the original construction in the 1920s. Credit: Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times

June 2, 1973: Los Angeles City Hall from Spring Street entrance with construction elevator erected on the outside of building to haul restoration and earthquake repair materials to 22nd floor. This photo was published in the June 17, 1973 Los Angeles Times.

June 2, 1973: Los Angeles City Hall tower as seen from the Spring Street entrance, with construction elevator erected on the outside of building to haul restoration and earthquake repair materials to upper floors. Credit: Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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1 Comment

  1. February 11, 2016, 9:36 am

    This is a very creative picture

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