Hall of State Exterior Restoration
Recognized for multiple world-renowned art museums, theaters, music centers, and stunning architecture, Dallas, Texas is also home to the Hall of State building at Fair Park. Constructed in 1936 for the World’s Fair, it is considered the most significant art deco building in the state. A beacon for the State Fair of Texas, nearly a century of welcoming millions of annual visitors left its wear on the crumbling masterpiece.
As with most historic restoration projects, Hall of State required a different approach than typical new construction or repair projects. The guiding principles of preserving historic structures bring challenges: repair materials require a high degree of compatibility, efforts to retain historic building materials can cost more and be more challenging to install, and building consensus among multiple entities that desire or require input takes more time. Additionally, there was little or vague documentation regarding original construction coupled with the use of materials and techniques that may be archaic or at least unfamiliar to us today. The challenges of preserving the façade were further complicated by the need to work around the Hall of State’s biggest event, the annual State Fair of Texas. This required a tight design and construction schedule, prohibiting on-site work between September and the end of October annually over the three-year restoration project.
- 80-year historic building renovation
- Façade restoration
- Waterproofing repair
- Innovative solutions based on existing conditions
In 2018, the City of Dallas commenced a $14.4 million assessment and repair project to renovate this treasured building. Under the leadership of the architecture team at Gensler, Walter P Moore was enlisted to assess the condition of the exterior Cordova Cream limestone veneer and determine the sources of water infiltration that damaged interior finishes and the historic plaster ceilings.
For the limestone façade, our team used a technique called “Dutchman repair” to address larger spalls, typically adjacent to corroding anchors. This involves carving replacement pieces for smaller areas in need of repair from larger broken sections of limestone panels that in turn require replacement. In some areas, large intact spalls were adhered in place after the corroding anchors were removed and replaced so that the patch material was the exact match of the surrounding materials. These repairs were attempted wherever possible and only replaced stones when a sound repair couldn’t be guaranteed. Ultimately, this amounted to about 20 new limestone panels, which were commissioned from the same quarry used to source the original historic panels.
Hall of State features multiple masonry materials: the façade panels are made of soft, porous Cordova Cream limestone, the plaza consists of sandstone pavers over concrete, and the promenade steps are specifically Indiana limestone, carved with a slight radius. Our team identified the proper removal and chemical cleaning processes for each of the stone types and selected an appropriate cleaning product after our study of soiling type revealed that biological growth was the primary cause of the staining. We then worked with the contractor to provide mock-ups of the various cleaning products and application methods to determine the best and least invasive approach. These varied greatly and required coordination with outside restoration specialists to ensure any staining was removed and the stones were reinstalled without harming the structural integrity or original aesthetic.
The building also had a history of water infiltration at the basement level, jeopardizing historical artifacts that were stored in this area. Walter P Moore determined an appropriate waterproofing system through surface preparation and testing mockups to ensure artifacts would be protected and enjoyed by generations to come.