Powell Library Ceiling Restoration University of California, Los Angeles

The 1994 Northridge Earthquake severely damaged the ceiling of the 10,000 square foot Main Reading Room. Its structural system consisted of rotting straw and jute, wrapped in plaster, holding the ceiling in suspension from a thin metal frame. Over the past sixty years, the ceiling had also suffered from water damage and other losses. A repair strategy to provide the highest standard of safety and historic preservation was developed. The solution combined restoring and reinforcing original decoratively painted pieces, while replacing simpler elements with a stronger, lighter material and integrating these elements into a new structural system. We provided historic preservation services for the University during the FEMA funded repair and restoration project. Work included quality control/oversight as well as interface with SHPO and other state and federal agencies. The ceiling restoration represents an innovative and successful preservation project that included a team approach with the contractor, model inventory and documentation procedures and application of construction technologies with integrated quality control.