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Project: Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel & Spa
Owner: Marriott International
Location: Miami, FL
Description: Non-destructive testing using impact echo and vacuum injection to repair mosaic facade
Completed: February 2004

The Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel & Spa www.edenrocresort.com was designed by architect Morris Lapidus and built in 1955. It is a landmark prime oceanfront property overlooking world-renowned Miami Beach.


On the exterior towers of the west elevation of the property two mosaics nominally 30 feet wide by 140 feet high each were hand laid to reflect the waves on the ocean. They are the largest exterior mosaics of this type in North America. There were significant areas of mosaic tile unbonded from the grout base leaving gapping holes in the façade. The condition of disrepair gave concern for public safety.


Total removal and replacement of the mosaics was a last resort option based on their historical significance and expense.  The Balvac vacuum process presented an effective and cost efficient solution compared to the current repair technique where re-bonding both the tile and grout base to the substrate was restricted to complete removal and replacement of tile.


Structure Characteristics

The structure was constructed with reinforced concrete slab beams and columns. The in-fill between four exterior columns one at each corner of the tower and two intermediate is 8 inch concrete masonry units (CMU).  The exterior façade is comprised of a setting bed overlaid with ceramic tile.  The original building plans indicate that the tile setting bed should be 5/8 inches.  Test results using impact echo have found the setting bed varying from 1.7 to 2.7 inches. The total façade thickness varied due to the inconsistency in the setting bed thickness.


Problems that Prompted Repair

Significant areas of mosaic tile were unbonded from the grout base. In limited and random sections tile fell leaving gapping holes in the façade.  Furthermore damage with regard to the structural integrity of the façade was evidenced by the loss of bond of the grout base to the CMU in-fill and the concrete columns.  This loss of grout bond resulted in profile protuberance throughout the entire face of the both tower mosaics. 


In isolated areas the grout matrix was compromised and disintegrated causing a build up in the protruded areas making it impossible to reestablish a level surface profile.  Grout joints on both towers were severely weathered and on the greater portion of the surface area the grout was missing disintegrated and or friable.


The façade’s poor condition increased the probability that the tile and grout could loosen the mechanical bond and sections would shear from the face of the tower posing grave concern for public safety.


Inspection / Evaluation Methods

Prior to Balvac’s involvement in the project a January 2002 condition assessment of the mosaic tile involved a physical inspection including a delamination survey and destructive testing of the façade. The delamination survey was performed by sound with a hammer.  The destructive testing entailed opening an area of the wall at the handrail anchorage and a hollow area on the north tower.  A 4 inch core was taken to evaluate the composite construction of the façade.


Subsequently Balvac made a condition assessment specifically to evaluate the extent of damage and deterioration of the tile grout base and setting bed using non-destructive impact echo technology.  Structural engineers Tadjer Cohen Edelson and Associates www.tadjerco.com provided an objective assessment of this analysis and also considered the Balvac vacuum process as a viable and cost effective means of restoring the integrity of the tile façade.


Test Results

Findings of the 2002 report indicated advanced deterioration of the mortar setting bed in addition to voids and debonding of the tile throughout the façade.  The 2002 report also indicated that substrate could not receive any additional dead load. The conclusion was removal and replacement of the entire façade.


The condition assessment conducted by Balvac found tile exhibiting varying degrees of visible deterioration and previous repairs.  Impact echo testing in these areas was prohibited as test results would only verify visually observable and known conditions.  Therefore testing modifications were made to avoid these areas to determine the general soundness of the façade.


Observations of the cores and impact echo findings revealed a wide range of construction total thickness.  The physical properties and composition of tile setting bed concrete and CMU substrate changed the actual wave speed during the impact echo analysis.  Experience with multiple layers of construction of this type has revealed a variance of 5 to 15% in the wave speed.  Therefore the depth of recorded readings reflected the variable thickness of the setting bed.


Causes of Deterioration

Built in 1955 the building envelope of the structure received minimal preventative maintenance.  The mosaic tile façade was exposed to the harsh climate of winds rain and high temperature for nearly 50 years and the tile grout joints deteriorated.  This continuing process of deterioration and disintegration of the grout resulted in moisture intrusion leading to the loss of integrity of the grout base and eventually of the tile bond and grout base to the substrate.


Repair System Selection

Restoration of the tile façade required a combination of conventional and specialty techniques.  It was essential to the overall repair program to first replace damaged and missing tile and re-grout tile joints.


Upon completion of the tile rehabilitation the façade was pinned with stainless steel anchors followed by the bonding of the tiles to the grout base along with the re-bonding of the grout base to the CMU and concrete column substrate. The tile and grout base were re-bonded with special resins and a portland cement filler using the Balvac vacuum injection and impregnation process.


Repair Process Execution

Due to the numerous areas of damaged and missing tile all openings were grouted flush to the tile surface as a temporary means of sealing the surface to accommodate the Balvac vacuum process. Further missing and deteriorated grout in the tile joints was re-grouted to assist in providing a seal where the joints were porous or friable.


Stainless steel mechanical anchors were installed on a two-foot grid pattern over the entire surface of both towers.  It was necessary to install the anchors after the damaged and missing tile areas were restored to secure the composite façade and realign the profile of the façade where possible.


The Balvac vacuum process was then used to secure any questionably unbonded original tiles fill delamination in the setting bed and fill and seal cracks.  Upon completion of the vacuum injection all previously repaired areas that exhibited damaged or missing tiles were removed and new tile was installed.  With the completion of the tile replacement and restoration the entire face of both mosaics was cleaned and hand polished with compounds and lambs wool buffers.

Entrance showing the two 140 by 30 foot high mosaic facades