Los Angeles, CA

Southwest Museum


Founded in 1907 as the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, the museum is Los Angeles’ oldest. The campus now includes three structures, the original 1914 building with its Poole Wing addition and the free-standing Braun Library. The museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 283. SGH investigated the condition of the original building, including its seven-story Caracol Tower, and the Poole Wing, which suffered from leakage and damage that occurred during the Northridge earthquake.

SGH conducted a hands-on investigation of the facades using industrial rope access, performed water testing, made observations of concealed conditions at exploratory openings, and performed laboratory analysis on cores extracted from the plaster-coated concrete facades. We observed cracks through the exterior walls and earthquake damage requiring major concrete and plaster repair.

Our petrographic analysis of the cores revealed an inherently problematic facade assembly consisting of a strong outer layer of plaster over weaker layers of plaster and weak concrete. SGH designed plaster mixes for replacing the plaster and patching delaminated areas. We evaluated mockups for the plaster repairs, including varying plaster mixes, bonding agents, surface preparation, and paint. After the mockups had cured, we performed paint adhesion and plaster pull-off tests to determine the final specifications.

SGH designed structural repairs to address the earthquake damage. We provided construction observation for both structural and building enclosure repairs.

Project Summary



Completion Date
Repair & Rehabilitation | Preservation
Structures | Building Enclosures | Applied Science & Research
Culture & Entertainment
Levin & Associates
Specialized Capabilities
Seismic Engineering | Condition Assessments | Preservation | Physical Testing | Environmental Simulations | Materials Science | Microscopy

Key team members

Carolyn Searls
Carolyn Searls
Senior Principal