Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Kothmann, Kallie (2019). Wall Assembly Deterioration: Asbestos-Cement, Modernism, and Panel Construction (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Asbestos-fiber reinforced cement panelboards were a common and cost-effective means of making a building fire-resistant in the early twentieth century and fall under the purview of preservation and conservation disciplines by virtue of their period of use. However, due to the potential health and legal implications of deteriorating asbestos-containing products, conservation dilemmas arise when these products are involved. This thesis discusses the ways in which understanding asbestos-cement panelized wall systems can help inform their potential deterioration mechanisms, leading to treatment options and recommendations. The focus is exterior asbestos-cement panels installed in a building as parts of a modular assembly because they are likely to have larger architectural or technological significance. These panels are also likely to experience a high level of exposure to deterioration mechanisms through weathering. In order to clearly articulate and illustrate potential deterioration mechanisms of asbestos-cement panelized systems a historical contextualization of modular construction, asbestos-cement, and panel construction is provided and three case studies are presented: a Motohome, the Charles and Ray Eames House (Case Study House #8), and the John Blair Building.


capillary action, corrosion jacking, sandwich panel, postwar, AC panels



Date Posted: 03 June 2019