43rd Annual Meeting – Opening Session, May 14, Concrete Conclusions: Surface treatment Trails for Conserving the Miami Marine Stadium by John A. Fidler, Rosa Lowinger, et. al.

Miami Marine Stadium by El Gringo. Taken August 16 2011.
Miami Marine Stadium by El Gringo. Taken August 16 2011.

“This presentation by John A. Fidler and Rosa Lowinger focused on testing cleaning methods for removal of graffiti from concrete surfaces at the Miami Marine Stadium. The work is being undertaken by the Friends of the Miami  Marine Stadium with funding by the Getty Foundation.
The stadium is an excellent modernist structure designed by the Cuban-American Architect, Hilario Candela. The building includes a 326 foot-long cantilevered thin shell concrete roofline that is among the longest in the world. The Stadium was created for speedboat racing but was also used as a concert venue, and featured artists such as Jimmy Buffett, Sammy Davis Jr, and more. The stadium is owned by the city. It was closed in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew and has fallen into a state of disrepair. It has become the central site for graffiti artists in the Miami area and the surfaces of the stadium are covered with multiple layers of graffiti.
Because of it’s unique and original mid-century design, the Miami Marine Stadium is the recipient of the Getty Foundation Keeping It Modern Initiative funding. This is one of nine structures to have received this type of grant. This funding has allowed for testing graffiti removal methods and evaluating concrete repair materials for the project. This 12 month testing phase is due to be completed this summer, but the project will be on-going.
The Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium are working diligently to save this structure from a city demolition order that was issued in 1993. There is concern about the welfare of the deteriorating concrete and the structure’s hurricane resistance. The project requires both civil engineering expertise and conservation skills. In addition to materials conservation issues, the cultural and social use of the site as a graffiti sanctuary must also be addressed. Repair of the concrete in many places will require the removal of many of the graffiti works. While much of the graffiti designs are undertaken using acrylic or polyurethane enamel car touch up paint, there are more than 200 types of paint materials used to create the graffiti art.
The project will require graffiti management for current and possible future tagging. Initial meetings were held with the graffiti artists to convey that there is intent to honor the role of their work, to record the work, and to provide creative ways to archive or show the work. In the future there may be walls placed for graffiti artists to continue their efforts.
Current conservation research efforts are focusing on three lines of study – graffiti removal, anti-graffiti protection, concrete repair. Graffiti removal is focusing on both mechanical and chemical methods of removal. Mechanical techniques include dry-ice abrasion and/or laser cleaning. This may also be followed by chemical methods such as Dumond’s Smart Strip Pro, or custom chemical blends using 5% formic acid and benzyl alcohol. To protect surfaces from new graffiti additions, anti-graffiti barriers are being tested. These treatments may include Dumond Chemical Watch Dog, as well as Keim, and Prosoco products.
Concrete patch repair is focusing on stable long-term materials. Worldwide over 90% of concrete repairs fail within 10 years. Thus, it is important to test potential patch materials in actual environments prior to treatment. Also, the surface textures and finishes will be a challenge to conservators. Materials selected for testing include:

  • SIKA Mono-top
  • BASF Emaco Repair
  • Edison Coatings System 45
  • Cathedral Stone Jahn M90
  • Custom Mixes

Results of this research will both guide the treatment of the Miami Marine Stadium and serve as a guide for the treatment of other mid-century modern concrete buildings and structures.