Faking it with foam

When it comes to replicating the features and details of that give old buildings character, many of today’s builders don’t have the time or budget to use the materials or techniques of the past.  That’s the case in Echo Park were the builder of an approximately 90-unit retirement complex across from Echo Park Lake is trying to pass off the structure as a vaguely Spanish Colonial-Mission Viejo Mediterranean with a material not usually associated with a construction: foam.  Last week, workers were placing white piece of foam – pictured above – shaped like corbels or brackets into the corners of apartment balconies.  The blue film over the foam is supposed will help a layer of stucco stick to the foam, said one worker.

A quick check on the Internet shows that there is a piece of foam trim or detail for nearly every part of a Mediterranean McMansion, from window trim to ceiling beams and crown moldings.

Of course, after a stucco-like coat is applied, bottom picture, some of the details the builders were seeking to replicate gets lost and blob-like. Perhaps it’s best to leave the foam off your new home – or apartment building – because you are not fooling anyone.


  1. This is horrible on the eyes!!! Let’s invest in real architecture Echo Park!

  2. I know an architect that works in the firm that designed that building. I’ll have to razz him for that.

  3. Welcome to the ’80s, thanks for noticing

  4. Lets hope with the current economic situation they didn’t choose to use the same cheap China made materials on other parts of the building. Says allot about the people behind this kind of project… Its ok the old people that are going to or planned to have been said will live there wont even have the strength in there eyes to notice the diffrence.


  5. In the ’20s, these would have been concrete or terra cota emulating 18th century dressed stone.

    Its just the latest is a long line of ersatz.

    I’m not a fan, but it is what it is.

  6. Where have you been for the past 20 years? This is what a Home Creepo house is made of. Do you really think all those faux Mediterranean McMansions have real stone ledges and window moldings?

  7. All of you nay-sayers are out of touch with current building techniques. The builder is not cutting any corners here (no pun intended). The foam corners (corbels) are simply decorative molds which allow the exterior cladding (probably stucco) to be formed. The alternative would be cutting the corbel shapes from wood (termite food) and shaping it manually (much more labor intensive). Simply put this is a superior material for this purpose.

  8. this senior living complex is a perfect match for the location. The new building will have all the amenities needed by the residents, so they are self-contained except for going outside to doctor appointments.

    The senior residents will be blessed with a front seat view of the spiffed-up Echo Park Lake. And they can give their blessings and receive spiritual sustenance across the street at the historic Angelus temple.

    If the developer of the project is truly blessed with success – then the new senior complex will be occupied with plenty of happy residents who will draw up their wills to name Angelus as heir to their estates.


    I say, Foghorn Leghorn, loved your tongue in beak assessment of the new complex! Thank Whatever Gods May Be that I don’t have to live there!

  10. Foam is basically how Disney and Universal theme parks are able to look the way they do today. Toontown at Disneyland and Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure are major foam projects. I think it can look good in the right context. While the example in this article isn’t exactly a stellar architectural addition, it’s better than what we were seeing in cheap design for the last 2 decades….nothing!

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