July 2016 Feature: The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
Known as “The Shopping Wonder of the World,” The Forum Shops are a must-see, all-encompassing experience at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev. The Forum Shops include approximately 160 specialty stores, fine restaurants, beautiful attractions and some of the Strip’s most stunning architecture and design. The exterior is based on the Italian Palazzo, and like the original, it has Corinthian columns, balustrades, entablatures and cornices. Also featured is a scale replica of the Italian Trevi Fountain and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Triton Fountain. The interior contains striking architectural details designed to evoke the magnificence and grandeur of a marketplace at the height of the Roman Empire. Entering through the hall’s grand archway, visitors and are greeted by rows of marble columns, natural stone, storefronts crowned with statues of Roman gods, philosophers, military heroes and some of the most majestic fountains you’ll ever see.
Unlike Roman times, these beautiful architectural feats do not take decades to complete. Casinos are constantly remodeling, revising and updating and because they are open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week, these projects present logistical challenges. Imagine recreating magnificent fountains and remodeling the front entrance and lobby of one of the busiest hotels in the world, never closing the doors, and never disrupting a customer. This was Superior Tile and Stone’s challenge, and its success, on the Caesars Remodel project.
San Leandro, Calif.-based, Superior Tile and Stone – an NTCA Five Star Contractor and TCAA Trowel of Excellence-certified company – is known for its interior and exterior tile, marble and natural stone expertise. That’s why it was responsible for the complex tile, stone and fountain renovations. The casino renovation project included over 12,000 sq. ft. of cut-to-size pattern flooring, seven different custom-designed medallions, 30 radius steps, numerous marble columns and stone countertops. Work typically began in the early morning hours around 3:00 a.m. and finished for the day about eight hours later. When they were off the job, it was not apparent that construction was proceeding at all and this portion of the project was completed in less than six weeks.
Fountain installation flows ahead
Over in The Forum Shops, work began in fall 2014 for an impressive multi-level, three-tiered fountain that is one of the key focal points of the facility. Designed in part by Water FX, based in Las Vegas, Nev., this fountain presented many logistical challenges to develop and install. What began as a hand-drawn sketch transformed into a complete functional design that ensured that the fountain would not leak or spray excess water into the path of the shops’ visitors and would also ensure there was not water intrusion between each level of the mall.
Water features using shotcrete applications, such as this one, need to be waterproofed in some way or it is certain that water will find a way to escape. Typically, concrete applied by experts at high levels of compressive strength should not leak; however, when you consider all of the various penetrations, such as water intake and return lines, nozzles, lighting fixtures and other components, the challenge of keeping water where you want it becomes a larger concern. Therefore, the concrete fountains had to be sealed with a trusted waterproofing membrane – enter Merkrete BFP: a waterproofing membrane system is used for severe exposures and high- traffic installations. Durable and long lasting, this membrane system is designed especially for heavy-duty applications and is installed in a semi-fluid state so it can be applied to practically any form or irregular shape. BFP waterproofing membrane was used as another layer of protection by sealing all voids created by the light fixtures, water nozzles and other chasms associated with operation of the fountain. Tile in the fountain was set and grouted using a single product, Merkrete’s Pro Epoxy. Pro Epoxy produces a high strength that is stain resistant, impermeable, and shock resistant, and provides color to blend in with the natural hues of running water.
Streaming to the finished product
From the top of the fountain streaming down three levels to the base, this extremely challenging project pushed the Superior Tile and Stone team to its limits. Staying true to the Roman Empire architectural look, Superior installed over 5,000 sq. ft. of natural stone, particularly travertine, marble and limestone. Using Merkrete BFP as the waterproofing membrane, various natural stone and marble were set using Merkrete 855 XXL. This provided Superior the ease to set both large and heavy tile and natural stone on both floors and walls. Many of the vertical applications required installing the natural stone around curves to accommodate the water basins, which added more complexity to the project.
“The non-slip feature of Merkrete’s 855 XXL held the vertical tiles in place, allowing us to move along much quicker,” said Superior’s general superintendent Tim Robinson. “The tile size, weight and radius around the fountains made for some tedious work, but 855 XXL held the tile in place, easing the process along.”
A combination of Merkrete grout products was used to finish off the installation. Pro Epoxy was employed in and around the water features, and ProGrout was applied on the remaining floors and walls.
“ProGrout is designed to resist stains and will not effloresce, making it the right choice in and around water,” said Clint Anna, Merkrete national sales manager. “It also is fast setting so that helps the speed of the installation.”
The stunning fountain and surrounding stone and marble architectural elements were completed and unveiled to the public in April 2015. “The beautiful three-tiered fountain was a cool and challenging job,” said Merkrete sales representative Ray Hunt. “And partnering with a great tile contractor, general contractor [The PENTA Building Group, Las Vegas, Nev.] and project designers led to a satisfying and successful finished project.”