The Blossom Ballroom at the Roosevelt Hotel was the site of the first Academy Awards Ceremony back in 1929 and has hosted many famous names over the years. The decorative ceiling of the ballroom recently underwent a major upgrade to incorporate new computer-controlled light systems and the ceiling was reconfigured, restored, and updated structrally during this process.
Here's another interesting link on the Academy's site:
Positive proof that California has history.
The Blossom Ballroom was the site of the very first Academy Awards ceremony and banquet and has been the site of many important social functions for the Industry over the years.
This project involved the restoration of a restoration, compounding the Ruskinian debate. In the late 1970's, the original gypsum plaster ceiling was in an advanced state of decay and the owners of that period decided to replace the original ceiling with an exact replica in more contemporary materials, in this case using a polymer-modified material that was much more durable.
The new material was lighter and presented less of a weight problem to the suspension system, a common wire-supported framework with opaque panels to disseminate the lighting elements positioned above the ceiling. The designers of the current project had decided to update this lighting system to more contemporary standards, while utilizing the existing decorative framing of the original design.
The 1970's decorative ceiling was removed to allow for the complete demolition and removal of the old HVAC system, and to make room for the installation of new HVAC components. This also allowed for the installation of new lighting systems far in advance of the previous installations. As is typical in this type of preservation project, all removed items were documented, logged, and prepared for later re-installation in the same location on the ceiling grid.
In this phase of the project, the ballroom was a very busy workplace, with scissors lifts working in all areas of the space. These versatile machines allowed multiple crews to perform many different activities within the confines of a limited space.
In a twist on the original layout, the new plan called for all ceiling panels to be without opaque panels, i.e. having only the decorative framework without any flat areas that would not transmit backlighting.
Before these flat areas could be successfully removed, the original 70's panels had to be inspected and repaired prior to the removal of the flat panel portions of the sections.
In all locations where structural deficiencies were noted, a new stainless steel pin was installed in epoxy adhesive to strengthen the portion of the decorative segment we wanted to preserve for re-use.
Additionally, there were numerous areas of the ceiling intended for preservation that had failed completely, and in these locations we made new replacement segments in a compatible material to make sure that the ceiling was sound after re-installation.
In those areas where the original ceiling panels were missing elements, this stockpile of matching units made it possible to blend all surfaces together visually.
While we were getting the ceiling back in place after the new HVAC and lighting installation, our friends at KC Restoration were also taking care of the new decorative painting scheme for the corbels and other plaster trim areas adjacent to the ceiling.
The corbels and panels were redone using stencil techniques and the color scheme derived from careful forensic research to determine the original paint scheme from the 20's.
With the new lighting systems installed, the decorative surfaces take on a whole new life and appearance.
At the beamcase areas, we also removed the old solid panels of the side areas and created new perforated decorative trim panels that repeated the decorative scheme of the original areas in the center. We then extended this motif to the edges of the room, casting new units using rubber-mold techniques. These perforated units could then function as cover for the new air handling system intake ports.
New custom tile and flooring based on existing surfaces elsewhere in the Roosevelt Hotel were installed around the perimeter of the room.
Final installation included painting and touch-up repairs before the new translucent panels were placed above the grid.
The new ceiling grid is in full complement to the new multi-colored lighting system behind the opaque panels. The possible hues available to the computer-controlled illumination source can be quite striking.
The Academy Awards may be down the block at the Kodak Theater, but the Blossom Ballroom continues to play a part in the social life of Hollywood and Los Angeles.