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AMCH Members - Associated Masonry Contractors of Houston
This Week's Second Look | Construction Citizen
Last week I visited the offices of Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd to interview their president, Kevin Camarata, about what the craft of masonry is all about.
Profile â€” Camarata Masonry
Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. was founded August 1, 2004 by Kevin M. Camarata.
Prior to founding the company, Mr. Camarata was the Vice President and General Manager of the prefabricated panel division of a nationwide stone contractor based in Louisiana and, most recently, the President/General Manager of a multi-state stone and masonry contractor based in Texas.
Mr. Camarata was responsible for growing that company from a staff of approximately one dozen to well over 500 and completing the masonry and/or stone work on such monumental projects as Minute Maid Park (formerly Enron Field), Reliant Stadium (home of the National Football League Houston Texans), The Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, The George Bush Presidential Library, The William J. Clinton Presidential Library, The Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art, The William R. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and the Baker Street Jail (one of the largest county jails in the United States).
Mr. Camarata brings extensive knowledge of stone and masonry systems to his own company together with a large staff of industry professionals (many of whom worked with him previously) having considerable experience successfully constructing some of the largest and most intricate commercial projects built in the United States during the last quarter century.
Mr. Camarata is currently a Director of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3).
He is a past State Chairman of the Mason Contractors Association of America, past Director of the Houston Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, past President of the Texas Masonry Council and past President of the Associated Masonry Contractors of Houston.
Contact â€” Camarata Masonry
Kevin M. Camarata
President of the General Partner
Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd.
16465 W. Hardy Road
Houston, Texas 77060
"In 1953, 'updates' to modernize the ...
"In 1953, 'updates' to modernize the style of the building and to increase its useable interior space resulted in massive architectural degradations," said Kevin Camarata, president of the general partner of Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd., the company that completed the renovation.
By utilizing a variety of marble, granite, ceramic and porcelain tile, Camarata
team, along with individuals from Vaughn Construction
, were able to bring the courthouse back to life.
"The scope of work included the removal, cataloging and storage of much of the existing stone under a prior contract with the County; the cleaning, restoration and reinstallation of the salvaged stone; the supply and installation of the new stone material to match the old stone - inclusive of book-matching and diamond matching; the cleaning and restoration of the existing stone that remained in place; the supply and installation of the new historically matched ceramic tile and mosaics - inclusive of the tedious process of filling in the trenched areas; the restoration of the existing ceramic tile that remained in place; and the supply and installation of the new ceramic tile in the judge's chambers and restrooms," said Camarata
"The finishing touch was the installation of the light paver panels," said Camarata
worked closely with architects and contractors to ensure the building was restored to its former splendor, mainly in regard to the historic mosaic tiling and refinished salvaged stone.
To begin the widespread tile restoration, Camarata
coordinated with architects from PGAL and a historical consultant, who identified the areas throughout the second, third, fourth and fifth floors that required tile patching and whole fields of tile.
One of the challenges that arose with the original tile throughout the courthouse, a ¾- x ¾-inch ceramic mosaic with butt joints, was the inconsistency in color and uneven setting.
"The tile fields were surrounded by elaborate border designs, which varied on each floor; the borders contained as many as five different colored tiles," said Camarata
"In addition, the original setting methods created a challenge," Camarata
went on to say.
located the only two known small batch historical restoration tile manufacturers in the world - one in England and one in the U.S. - and ultimately chose the domestic manufacturer.
"Samples of every color and shade were taken, grouped by floor and forwarded to the manufacturer for matching," said Camarata
"Crack suppression membrane was extensively utilized where necessary, and the depressions and trenches were filled in and floated," said Camarata
"The new tile was carefully dry fit, and once trimmed, installed 1/32-inch higher than the existing adjacent tile.
Then, after matching the grout color and grouting, all new tile was ground down by hand to the level of the existing adjacent tile with an abrasive wheel containing a specific grit.
experimented with several methods of matching the existing tile's patina and found that this practice produced the best result.
"Once all of the tiles had been laid and ground down, we utilized a floor polishing machine with a special pad and a custom designed slurry to clean them all," he
went on to say.
"This process evened out any remaining color inconsistencies in the tile and grout, and produced seamless transitions between old and new.
The end result is a mosaic tile floor that looks like it was just installed in 1910."
When it came to the stonework, Camarata's
team was first tasked with refinishing the previously salvaged marble, which was shipped to their facility.
All of the stones were organized by numbering systems that identified the floor and area of their original location.
"Over the years, the stone had become soiled and stained due to normal wear, atmospheric conditions and improper maintenance," said Camarata
"In addition, the stone had been damaged from careless actions; inclusive of holes drilled into the stone, chips on the edges and body of the stone, and adhesives applied to the surfaces.
Various techniques were tested until the most effective combination of cleaning applications was discovered.
Once the stones were cleaned and patched, they were refinished.
While the salvaged stone was being cleaned and refinished, other individuals from Camarata
meticulously incorporated them into the stone shop drawings, which were used to fabricate and install new and salvaged stone pieces.
A lot of the stones had to be field fabricated and cut to accommodate the design, since they were larger than expected, and most of the salvaged stone was grouped together on specific floors (second, third and fifth) to create a more consistent look.
The cleaning and refinishing of the salvaged stone presented a large challenge, since Camarata
strived to use as little new stone as possible.
"In many instances, Camarata
utilized focused portable light sources to allow for accurate and expedient refinishing and fabrication," he
"The predominant original stone is Georgia Pearl Gray, which is a highly veined and decorative white marble," said Camarata
"It included some diamond matched stone on columns on the second level of the rotunda.
Much of the column material from the second level up was moved to hallways, removed from the project or destroyed during the 1953 renovation that closed in the rotunda.
located the quarry that produced the original material, contracted with a domestic fabricator with significant Georgia marble experience, and forwarded representative samples of the existing materials for matching.
"All of the diamond-matched columns from the second level to the sixth level are new, as are the spandrel panels and copings between them," Camarata
went on to say.
"The final product is visually stunning and seamless," said Camarata
But, this project holds a special place in our hearts due to the difficulty in construction, expertise in management, procurement and installation, and its importance to the city of Houston," said Camarata