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Long Beach Condos Get Forensic Paint Analysis, Silicone-Mold Bear

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Gargoyles via LA Conservancy

The 16-story Villa Riviera condo building in Long Beach is getting a preservation award from the Los Angeles Conservancy, and for good reason: its homeowners and board of directors went hard on a two year restoration, employing all kinds of experts and pulling off all kinds of preservation tricks. More than ten layers of paint (some of it leaded) were stripped off the building, and an architectural forensic historian had to be brought in to identify the building's original 1929 paint color. Turns out it was "a grayish brown that from a distance looks like stone," according to the LA Times.

Then contractor Spectra had to figure out how to replace several of the building's rooftop grotesques that are believed to have been removed by 1970s penthouse-dwellers hoping to improve the view. A dog, a bear, a griffin, an eagle, and others were replicated from some of the extant statues using silicone molds and glass fiber concrete. And, way down below, the building's original bronze doors, thought to have been donated to the World War II war effort (during which the Riviera housed top naval officers, according to the Conservancy), were replaced with bronze-plated iron.

The Villa Riviera, designed by Richard D. King, was the second tallest building in SoCal when it was built in 1929, and was Long Beach's first steel-frame structure. According to the LAT, it was the only building taller than three stories that made it through the 1933 earthquake. The Conservancy says it was once managed by silent film actress Norma Talmadge. Today it has 132 condos. Check out a fourteenth floor studio going for $190,000.
· Villa Riviera in Long Beach to receive L.A. Conservancy award [LAT]
· Villa Riviera [LA Conservancy]