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Federal Aviation Administration building

Protecting Historic Landmarks with Kynar Aquatec®- latex based coatings. This high-performance coating reflects the original design intent after decades of façade damage

A striking, early example of Late Modern “High Technology” architecture in Southern California received a 21st-century facelift when its aluminum-clad exterior was refinished with NeverFade® Metal Restoration Coatings with Kynar Aquatec® latex from APV Engineered Coatings.

The coating restored the building’s façade to a just-like-new condition that will last for 20+ years.

Preserving Modern History

When it was completed in 1972, the Federal Building in Hawthorne, California, served as West Coast headquarters for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The six-story rectangular building with rounded corners was the first in Southern California to be designed with a mirrored glass “skin,”-

a design element that would become ubiquitous on corporate architecture of the 1970s and 1980s.

This “skin” includes flat surfaces of extruded anodized aluminum paneling and glass that are wrapped around the building’s concrete structural system, with thin, shallow, reverse mullion profiles to make the curtain wall appear as one continuous surface.


Often it is a younger generation that sees value in these late-era buildings that are just emerging as historic landmarks of the future. Crossing the 50-year threshold, enough time has passed to start understanding, recognizing and protecting these places too.

In 2015, the Federal Building was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and soon thereafter, the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA) decided to sell it. Before the sale was completed, the Los Angeles Conservatory got involved, working closely with the GSA to ensure the building would receive long-term protection through a conservation easement that was placed on the building as a condition of sale. The easement requires that any proposed changes to the exterior of the building and landscape conform to nationally recognized preservation standards.

We are all very excited to see this building rehabilitated and put back into its original use, demonstrating again how old can indeed become new again.

Initial Inspection Uncovers Significant Substrate Damage

Building restoration and maintenance expert Stuart Dean Co., Inc., took on the assignment of refinishing the building’s 40,000-square-foot Class One clear anodized aluminum exterior from the ground floor to the roof – including all window surrounds, window frames, façade panels, soffit panels and turns. The first order of business was to conduct a full NACE inspection of the façade to better understand its condition and determine the best path for restoration.

Stuart Dean discovered that the building’s façade had been painted several times in the past with a matte, silver-gray aluminum-colored paint – most recently in 1990 and 2009 – resulting in a buildup of 8-13 mils of previously-applied paint. According to Stuart Dean, the multiple paint layers had degraded and lost their adhesion, leading to widespread delamination and flaking. The damage was so severe that portions of the underlying aluminum substrate were exposed to the elements and subsequently became corroded and pitted.

The building’s historical status meant that less aggressive removal processes needed to be applied. To meet these requirements, Stuart Dean proceeded with multi-stage mockups showing the results of various removal methods to determine the most efficient approach.

As part of the mockup process, Stuart Dean also removed metal-to-metal and metal-to-glass sealants from around panels & window frames.

Once the proper corrosion mitigation method was determined, Stuart Dean continued the mockup process by applying an AAMA 2605-approved primer system (W-1650 Primer from APV Engineered Coatings) at a minimum DFT reading of 1.5 mils; 

Followed by an AAMA 2605-approved fluoropolymer topcoat (NeverFade® Metal Restoration Topcoat containing Kynar Aquatec® latex from APV) at a minimum DFT reading of 2.0 mils.

Kynar Aquatec® latex is water-based polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) resin that is ideal for air-dry, field-applied coatings. This premium, weather-resistant coating can be easily applied to a variety of substrates, including metals, plastics, wood, concrete, stucco, EIFS and previously-painted surfaces.

The use of Kynar Aquatec® latex and complex inorganic pigments gives NeverFade® the ability to resist film erosion, chalking and fading caused by harsh UV exposure.

APV noted that NeverFade® Certified Applicators like Stuart Dean go through special training to learn about the chemistry behind the product. They also learn details around pre-job testing, color matching, application mock-ups, on-the-job troubleshooting, and post-installation quality assurance, all providing confidence that NeverFade® with Kynar Aquatec® latex will perform throughout its 20+ year lifecycle.

One of the reasons water-based NeverFade® containing Kynar Aquatec® latex is ideal for these field applications is its ultra-low VOC content and lack of nuisance odors. 

Matching the Original Design Intent

To keep the look and design intent of the building’s original clear anodized aluminum finish, Stuart Dean worked closely with APV’s chemists who engineered a custom-colored, mica-based NeverFade® containing Kynar Aquatec® latex to match the original metallic look.

This color-matching is a standard part of the NeverFade® offering. APV will custom-match customer color specifications, from whites and metallics, to bold, bright hues.

NeverFade® is versatile because it gives contractors flexibility to apply it by brush, roller or spray. To ensure the metallic aesthetic, the Stuart Dean crew brush-rolled the first layer of NeverFade® Topcoat before spray-applying a dusting of the final coat.

APV’s engineering laboratory demonstrated a superior ability to create a pigmented coating that emulated clear anodized aluminum. That was one of the primary reasons the project was approved and awarded to us.

Expedited Project Proceeded Smoothly and Successfully

At the building owner’s request, Stuart Dean expedited the coating project, manning it with up to 16 technicians at a time to complete the work in five months. As they did with the mockup process, APV remained involved with the application process, making several onsite visits, meeting with the building owner, and conducting a final quality assurance evaluation at the end to support the 15-year product-and-labor guarantee APV provides to building owners. The guarantee, which is transferrable to future building owners, states that if the coating fades by a ΔE of five or higher, APV will replace the product and cover the labor cost of re-coating.