An Historic Landmark built in 1926, the Olympia Building in Miami is a 10 story block, that contains a performing arts centre with loft apartments on the upper stories. Owned by the city authorities, it was suffering from major structural faults, with pieces of masonry to fall off, that were so serious it would have been condemned and demolished had grant money not been available for its preservation. To enable this to happen and avoid a potential major collapse, the structure was stabilized using sustainable Helifix masonry repair and reinforcement systems.
Engineers discovered that slippage of the brick veneer, leading to cracked, bulging and separating masonry, had been caused by insufficient vertical support and poor weight distribution, resulting in failed wall ties and lintels, often the only means of support above the windows. Consequently, various areas of the building would need to be taken down and rebuilt, particularly at the building’s corners, and much of the decorative terra cotta on the roof parapet and floor bands would have to be removed and replaced.
To stabilize the building sufficiently to enable total structural renovation to take place, our local contractor installed the Helibeam System at various levels of the building. This involved bonding pairs of stainless steel helical bars into channelled-out mortar beds around the building corners. These formed masonry beams that reinforced and stabilized the brickwork, stitched cracks and redistributed the structural loads. In addition, some 9,000 DryFix remedial ties were installed, through the veneer and into the backup, to provide lateral restraint and secure the façade.
The Helibeam System was specified because of its proven ability to secure existing masonry, it is fully concealed once installed and its flexibility allows it to be bent around corners with no loss of performance. It was also the most cost-effective stabilization method available and, with all work undertaken externally, there was minimal disruption to the upper floor tenants during this ‘emergency restoration’ phase which overcame the veneer’s lack of support, securing the structure while full renovation of the Olympia Theater was safely undertaken.