The two dragons on top of the Chinatown Gateway in Los Angeles represent luck and longevity, but when the existing paint on the structure began to fade after less than three years, the truss was given new life with a fluoropolymer overcoat system from Tnemec. “The gateway was a bright red color that started to fade within three years of being painted with an acrylic polyurethane,” recalled Tnemec coating consultant Dustin Kaatz. “The project required an overcoat with an extended lifecycle of 15-plus years. They were also interested in resistance to ultraviolet (UV) light, and color and gloss retention.”
After the existing coating system was found to be in sound condition based on adhesion testing in accordance with ASTM Tests 3359 and 6677, the surface of the truss was scarified prior to receiving a tie-coat of Series L69 Hi-Build Epoxoline II, a low volatile organic compound (VOC) epoxy. The finish coat was Series 1070V Fluoronar, a high-solids fluoropolymer coating, in Chilean Red. Fluoronar offers unsurpassed color and gloss retention and consistent skip-free finish without a clear coat application. Approximately 80 gallons of primer and topcoat were required for the project.
With less than 100 grams per liter of VOCs, the primer and topcoat both meet South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) regulations in the Los Angeles basin, as well as all areas of the U.S. and Canada. “Tnemec offers solid-color, VOC-compliant fluoropolymer coatings, which other manufacturers don’t offer,” Kaatz noted. “The City of Los Angeles which owns the gateway was happy with its appearance.”
Ease of application was another benefit of the coating system due to the project’s location in the middle of the city. “The gateway is on a main street in north Los Angeles, in the shadows of the skyscrapers, so the coatings were brush- and roller-applied,” Kaatz added. “Much of the work was done during off hours after 10 p.m.”
The Chinatown Gateway, also known as the Twin Dragon Towers Gateway, spans the entrance to Los Angeles’ Chinatown near the intersection of Cesar Chavez and North Broadway. Towering 25 feet high, the twin dragons appear to descend from the clouds while resting on four steel pillars. The gateway was designed to symbolize luck, prosperity, and longevity. The project was funded by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles.