USC Tower Hall

This is a historic building built in the Spanish Revival style circa 1920, originally as an auditorium and administration building.  The one story un-reinforced masonry structure with four-story masonry and cast stone concrete tower was severely damaged during a large earthquake.  As a result, the top two stories of the tower were rendered unstable and had to be dismantled above the second floor line.  Several options were investigated in order to restore the important historic cast stone construction and detailing of the upper portion of the tower.  Because the structure had to be restored in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, it was critical to match the original construction’s appearance, profile dimensions, color and texture.

Precast panels mounted on a steel frame offered the best solution to reduce the weight of the original masonry and cast stone construction and remedy the structural deficiencies of the original design that failed.  In addition, precast concrete panels were able provide a material to match the original texture after several tests with varying degrees of sandblasting and aggregate placement.  A color match was achieved through careful selection of aggregates from areas close to the original source.

The use of precast enabled the architects to achieve a restoration of the original design in accordance with the Interior’s Standards.  The ability to replicate the original detail and finish of the historic tower along with outstanding structural properties that would enable it to withstand a similar earthquake, were qualities that were made possible through the use of precast concrete.

Project Facts & Highlights

City: Los AngelesState: CABuilding Type: InstitutionalYear Completed: 2001Job Number: 1284Structural Engineer: Wheeler & GrayOwner: University of Southern California