Harriman Building

Historic Hospital Reroofed With Clay Tiles in Downey, California

by Marcus Dodson, publisher

In Downey, California, a stone’s throw from Los Angeles, lies the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. Dating back to the late 1800s, the hospital has grown into one of the largest medical rehabilitation centers in the United States. Today, the center provides care for approximately 4,000 inpatients and 80,000 outpatients annually. The oldest building on the campus is the Harriman Building, named after superintendent William R. Harriman, who drastically improved the hospital in the early 20th century. As part of a $418 million project, the Harriman Building has been completely renovated and expanded to better serve its patients and staff.

In order to recreate the historical roof on the Los Amigos Harriman Building, Los Angeles County reached out to MCA® Clay Roof Tile of Corona, California, for their expertise. Originally, the project was intended to reuse the existing tiles as much as possible, and then fill in the rest with replacements. Unfortunately, during the demolition, the original top tiles were not salvageable because of the mortar cement used on them. Thankfully, most of the original pan tiles were saved.

“Clay tile is one of the most important character features of the Harriman building,” said Peyton Hall, principal architect emeritus, Historic Resources Group. “Keeping the original tiles or replicating broken and missing tiles was one of the most important tasks. MCA has the ability to work with owners, builders, and consultants to achieve the desired results in matching old tile.”

The Department of Public Works provided MCA’s president and CEO, Yoshi Suzuki, and his team with a few tile samples that had to be color-matched. Then, architects from Gensler, Los Angeles, California, met with the MCA Clay Roof Tile Team to discuss matching the existing tile for historical purposes.

“We met at our factory with Los Angeles County and Gensler to discuss the matching process and what they were looking for in terms of delivery time and the entire process,” said Dustin Chin, district sales manager, MCA Clay Roof Tile. “Samples were fabricated to match the shape, texture, and color blend. Once approved, we started the process of making the custom molds and cutters to fabricate the tiles to meet their timeline requirements.”

“MCA Clay tiles were used as they were local and easily available,” said Yugal K. Lall, PE, senior capital projects manager, Los Angeles County Public Works. “MCA was more a partner to the County. They took us on a tour of the plant, explained the manufacturing process, and provided samples that replicated the historic features that were required for the project.”

The MCA Clay Roof Tile team mixed their own natural red, brick red, and two custom colors to match the sample tiles. Once they were approved, the custom tiles went into production and were completed on time to match the construction timeline requirements. In total, MCA Clay Roof Tile produced approximately 47,000 custom top tiles, or 340 squares. Golden State Roofing, Carson, California, was the roofing contractor for this historic job.

The renovation also included interior and exterior upgrades, such as new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing, as well as improved landscape and hardscape. ADA upgrades were part of the renovation, as well as interior partitions that created administrative and clinical spaces. Rancho Los Amigos Harriman Building was certified LEED® BD + C Silver in 2023. The historic building will benefit from MCA’s high-quality, durable, and aesthetic clay roof tiles for generations to come.