Los Angeles, CA
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the Mayan Revival style, the Ennis House was constructed in 1924 and remains as one of his iconic “textile block” houses. The handmade, patterned concrete blocks were constructed from decomposed granite extracted from the site and provide a unique texture to the building walls. Despite its architectural significance, the Ennis House suffered from deferred maintenance, exposure to the elements, and earthquake damage. As part of conservation effort, SGH and Historic Resources Group of Los Angeles prepared a detailed building enclosure condition assessment report in advance of applications for grant aid.
The property, designated as a Los Angeles Cultural Monument and a State Historic Landmark and is also on the National Register of Historic Places, consists of two buildings, the main house and the chauffer’s quarters. Both buildings and the retaining walls are constructed of concrete blocks slightly sloped and stepped back at regular intervals. The blocks, set in stack-bond, are connected by cement-grouted steel reinforcement running in edge channels around each block.
SGH investigated the condition of the building enclosure. We observed deterioration of the concrete blocks and analyzed material samples at our in-house laboratory. We identified a range of problems with the building enclosure, including weathering of the concrete blocks, moisture ingress, corrosion of reinforcing steel, and consequent damage. We developed a conservation treatment strategy with recommendations for field trials, mockups, and validating laboratory analyses in order to refine the interventions and assess the cost/benefit of the various repairs and preventive conservation measures described, and gather information necessary to develop construction documents for the remedial work.