Project: Harris County 1910 Courthouse
Houston, TX (Sept., 2012) – The Houston Chapter of the Associated General Contractors presented Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. with the APEX 10 Historical Restoration Award for the 1910 Harris County Courthouse Restoration. This project, along with Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. also received The Marble Institute of America 2012 Award of Excellence in Renovation / Restoration and the ENR’s 2012 Best Project Merit Award for Specialty Contracting.
Completed in 1910, the fifth Harris County courthouse was designed by the Dallas firm of Lang and Witchell in a Beaux Arts or Classical Revival style with a requisite dome and Corinthian Columns. In 1953, “updates” to modernize the style of the building and to increase its useable interior space resulted in massive architectural degradations. The most profound and unfortunate alterations occurred in the building’s interior. The second floor entry galleries were repurposed as office space. The five story atrium was sacrificed by constructing new floors that bisected it on levels two through six. The glass skylight was removed. The marble clad double stairways were enclosed and some of the marble was moved to the hallways. The original ¾” x ¾” mosaic ceramic tile floors were “trenched” to accommodate electrical conduit and much of the tile was covered with concrete topping slabs. Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. was tasked with helping restore the building to its original splendor. The scope of work included the removal, cataloging and storage of much of the existing stone (under a prior contract with the County); the cleaning, restoration and reinstallation of the salvaged stone; the supply and installation of the new stone material to match the old stone (inclusive of book matching and diamond matching); the cleaning and restoration of the existing stone that remained in place; the supply and installation of the new historically matched ceramic tile and mosaics (inclusive of the tedious process of filling in the trenched areas); the restoration of the existing ceramic tile that remained in place and the supply and installation of the new ceramic tile in the judge’s chambers and restrooms.
The ceramic tile scope included the supply and installation of new unglazed mosaic 2” x 2” floors and glazed mosaic 2” x 2” walls in the public restrooms and entrances totaling 12,800 SF; 12” x 24” porcelain tile floors and polished 12” x 12” Hulian Green marble walls with 4” tall multicolor glass mosaic 1” x 1” accent borders in the private restrooms totaling 3,300 SF; 12” x 24” Persia granite paving borders in the judges reception areas totaling 700 SF; 2 cm polished Black Absolute granite thresholds at all non-historical doors; historical unglazed ceramic mosaic ¾” x ¾” tile with butt joints in eight color shades totaling 6,700 SF; elevator cab floor murals utilizing polished Black Galaxy granite, polished Rosso Alicante marble and porcelain tile and the labor to remove all lightweight concrete trench and tile fill and the cleaning/restoration of all remaining existing tile floors totaling 16,850 SF.
The stone scope included the crating and shipping of approximately 1,500 cataloged and stored salvaged stone pieces totaling 4,642 SF (completed under a previous contract with the County) to Camarata’s facility, refinishing that stone (inclusive of the removal of dirt, adhesives, staining and atmospheric soiling), crating, and shipping the stone back to the project, its re-installation; in place restoration, refinishing of the remaining stone material totaling 21,000 SF; supply and installation of new Cherokee White marble totaling 1,259 SF, Georgia Pearl Gray marble totaling 16,286 SF (inclusive book matching and diamond matching) to match the existing stone; field dimensioning of all stone substrates prior to shop drawing preparation; shop drawings of all stone, and installation of fifteen precast concrete and glass “light paver” panels.
The result is a well executed, highly ornate stone and mosaic tile project that many said could not be done, executed by a skilled workforce that many said did not exist.
Architect: PGAL General Contractor: Vaughn Construction