This article appeared in Western Roofing Magazine January/February 2021
Award-Winning Historical Reroof for Iconic Venue in Los Angeles, California
By Ali Turner, editorial & multimedia manager
From Sir Elton John to Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra to Bruce Springsteen, the historic Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California, has seen some of the world’s most supreme talents grace its stage. Built in 1928 and completed two years later, the iconic amphitheater is modeled after famous Greek temples, and is one of the nation’s most beloved outdoor performance venues.
In 2015, the City of Los Angeles embarked on a multiyear off-season renovation and rehabilitation endeavor to improve the visitor experience, add contemporary amenities for performers, and address multiple historic areas of the venue that were in need of rejuvenation. The final stage of the four-phase renovation included replacing the Greek Theatre’s iconic green glazed clay tile roof and skylights in order to incorporate seismic and mechanical upgrades.
The existing tile was cemented in, and a site inspection deemed the tiles unsalvageable. After careful consideration, which centered on finding high-quality products that could withstand ASTM testing and a rigorous production timeline, the architecture team at Page & Turnbull, Los Angeles, decided on MCA® Clay Roof Tile, a leader in the clay roof tile industry.
MCA developed and produced four unique types of Greek tiles for the reroof project, including a top tile, pan tile, ridge tile, and small ridge tile. Replacing historical or older tiles can be challenging, but MCA’s expertise in the clay tile arena allows historical institutions and landmarks to preserve their original looks.
The new Greek Theatre roof employs a structural concrete deck, with fiber-reinforced plastic and epoxy on top, followed by two layers of SOPREMA® self-adhered base and cap sheet, ICP Polyset® AH-160 roof tile adhesive, and an assortment of MCA Clay Roof Tiles. Polyset AH- 160 is a complete solution for roof tile attachment, both clay and concrete. It is a two-component, low-pressure polyurethane adhesive that attaches to each individual tile, ensuring it has a wind and weather-resistant bond. Polyset AH-160 is stronger than screws, nails, wire-tie systems, or other mechanical fastening systems that can damage the underlayment or roof deck.
ICP Group has a Masterworks hands-on training program in which contractors become qualified Polyset applicators. Best Contracting, Gardena, California, the general contractor and roof installer on this project, underwent this training and understands the unique advantages of using Polyset roof tile adhesive. “To be able to recreate a historical aesthetic in a modern way is amazing,” expressed Lauren Busichio, project engineer, Best Contracting. “Polyset allows roofing professionals superior holding power and additional walkability,” said Max Miller, vice president, roofing, ICP Building Solutions Group. “We invest in our contractors.”
“There are not too many installation systems available that can meet extremely high wind and seismic conditions, guarantee zero penetration to the membrane, and provide great time and labor-saving methods all in one,” said Yoshi Suzuki, president and CEO, MCA Clay Roof Tile.
The most challenging part of this project for MCA Clay Roof Tile was the quick turnaround. They had to make all the tiles within 31⁄2 months, which was an intimidating task. MCA rose to the challenge, however, and manufactured all of the tiles within the desired timeframe, assuring that the project would remain on schedule. All of the tiles were produced by MCA’s casting process, meaning each tile was casted in molds and fired, glazed, and fired again. With each field pan tile weighing approximately 45-50 lbs., the process is one that requires scientific preciseness and attention to detail.
The process involved plaster molds that were filled with liquid clay slip, tightened with bands, stood upright, then filled again to the top. As the clay slip settled into the molds, the air pockets escaped, which required the second fill, to the top, to fill any voids. “This was by far the most laborious task because of the size of the tiles,”explained Dustin Chin, district sales manager, MCA Clay Roof Tile. After each mold was filled, they were set for 24-48 hours, depending on their size, before being removed and put on custom racks to dry. Once dry, they were fired in the kiln, glazed, then fired a second time.
“Matching color tends to be a timely process, with the key being to tweak each glaze so that the color remains stable while still being correct,” said Chin. “Color is very important for roof tiles, and getting it perfect is the most important part of the fabrication.”
The Greek Theatre was recently bestowed the 2020 Preservation Design Award for Rehabilitation from the California Preservation Foundation, as judged by a jury of top architecture, engineering, and planning professionals. “Nothing about this project was off the shelf, including the tiles,” said John Lesak, principal, Page & Turnbull. The Greek Theatre renovation project showcases an impressive preservation endeavor, and the building continues to honor its legacy as one of the premier entertainment venues in the world.