Historic Landmark Refreshed with High-Performance Coatings


A striking, early example of Late Modern architecture received a 21st-century facelift when its aluminum-clad façade was restored to like-new condition. Learn how the damaged exterior was prepared and recoated to last more than 20 years.

Federal Building, Hawthorne California  PHOTOS COURTESY OF STUART DEAN COMPANY

Preserving Modern History

When it was completed in 1972, the Federal Building in Hawthorne, California, served as West Coast headquarters for the Federal Aviation Administration. The six-story building was the first in Southern California designed with a mirrored glass “skin” — flat surfaces of extruded anodized aluminum paneling and glass wrapped around the building’s concrete structural system, with thin, shallow, reverse-mullion profiles to make the curtain wall appear as one continuous surface.

In 2015, the building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and soon after, the federal government’s General Services Administration sold it. Before the sale was completed, the Los Angeles Conservatory established a conservation easement to ensure the building received long-term protection.

Initial Inspection Uncovers Significant Substrate Damage

Building restoration and maintenance expert Stuart Dean Co., Inc., took on the assignment of refinishing the building’s 40,000-square-foot Class One clear anodized aluminum exterior from the ground floor to the roof. The first step was to conduct a full NACE inspection of the façade to better understand its condition and determine the best path for restoration.

Stuart Dean discovered that the building’s façade had been painted several times in the past — resulting in a buildup of 8-13 mils of previously applied paint. According to Chris Incorvaia, National Manager of Façade Restoration with Stuart Dean, the paint layers had degraded and lost their adhesion, leading to widespread delamination and flaking. The damage was so severe that portions of the underlying aluminum substrate were exposed to the elements and subsequently became corroded and pitted.

“We were certain that we would need to remove all the previous paint to properly prepare the surface and ensure good coating adhesion,” he said.

Stuart Dean proceeded with multi-stage mockups of various removal methods to determine the most efficient approach. They continued the mockup process by applying an AAMA 2605-approved primer system (W-1650 Primer from APV Engineered Coatings) at a minimum DFT reading of 1.5 mils, followed by an AAMA 2605-approved fluoropolymer topcoat (NeverFade Metal Restoration Topcoat from APV) at a minimum DFT reading of 2.0 mils.

Before application

the coating solution

NeverFade Coatings contain Kynar Aquatec, a water-based polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) resin, ideal for air-dry, field-applied coatings. The premium, weather-resistant coating can be easily applied to a variety of substrates, including metals, plastics, wood, concrete, stucco, EIFS and previously painted surfaces.

“The use of Kynar Aquatec and complex inorganic pigments gives NeverFade the ability to resist film erosion, chalking and fading caused by harsh UV exposure,” explained Erin Neff, Director of Marketing and Business Development, APV Engineered Coatings.

Neff noted that NeverFade Certified Applicators like Stuart Dean go through special training to learn about the chemistry behind the product. They also learn details around pre-job testing, color matching, application mock-ups, on-the-job troubleshooting and post-installation quality assurance.

After application

Matching the Original Design Intent

APV engineered a custom-colored, mica-based NeverFade formulation to emulate the original clear anodized aluminum. According to the company, this color-matching is a standard offering. APV will custom-match customer color specifications — from whites and metallics, to bold, bright hues.

To ensure the metallic aesthetic, the Stuart Dean crew brush-rolled the first layer of topcoat before spray-applying a dusting of the final coat.

“One of the reasons water-based NeverFade is ideal for these field applications is its ultra-low VOC content and lack of nuisance odors,” said Incorvaia. “In fact, it is one of very few high-performance coatings to meet strict SCAQMD Rule 1113 environmental regulations in California. And because we were able to brush-roll the primer and first layer of topcoat, we didn't have to worry about overspray or windborne spray damaging surrounding cars or buildings.”

APV remained fully involved with the mockup and application processes, making several onsite visits, meeting with the building owner, and conducting a final quality assurance evaluation to support the coating’s 15-year product-and-labor guarantee. The guarantee, which is transferrable to future building owners, states that if the coating fades by a ΔE of five or higher, APV will replace the product and cover the labor cost of re-coating. Neff noted that this warranty is unique to the architectural coatings industry.

Full view of the completed façade

Claims or positions expressed by sponsoring authors do not necessarily reflect the views of TPC, PaintSquare or its editors. NeverFade® is a registered trademark of APV Engineered Coatings, Inc., sold under a trademark license from Arkema, Inc., owner of the Kynar®, Kynar Aquatec®Kynar 500® registered trademarks.