Renovating Bhojwani Tower

Crossville’s porcelain tile panels and an innovative cladding system satisfy Miami Beach’s building codes and historic preservation standards

Built in the late 1950s, Bhojwani Tower was designed by Albert Anis, known for his Art Deco architecture throughout Miami. Originally a bank, the Bhojwani, located on the corner of one of Miami Beach’s busiest pedestrian intersections, operates as a mixed-use building with residential and retail areas. When beginning the renovation process, Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design not only had to consider updating the building’s exterior to stringent building codes but also meeting the requirements of the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board.

Due to hurricanes, South Florida’s coastal areas fall into the High Velocity Hurricane Zone. Miami-Dade identified that it isn’t wind and rain that causes the most damage in strong storms; its exterior building pieces that come loose and turn into projectiles during extreme conditions. The International Building Code doesn’t allow anything larger than 3 square feet to be attached to the outside of a building because the adhesives used would cure before the cladding pieces are properly placed – especially in the area’s warm climate. This would make cladding more prone to fly off during storms.

Dan Slain of HyCOMB with HyCOMB’s unique stone and porcelain cladding solution.

To meet all code and preservation requirements, the Kobi Karp design team specified Crossville’s I Naturali collection of gauged porcelain tile panels to cover the exterior walls of the Bhojwani Tower. The team also advised Miami-Dade County officials that the Crossville material would meet stringent building codes and come in on budget if mounted with HyCOMB USA’s innovative cladding system.

The HyCOMB USA team worked with D&B Tile Distributors – a frequent host of CTEF’s Tile and Stone Workshops – to deliver the solution for installation of Crossville’s gauged porcelain tile panels for this project. Daniel Slain of HyCOMB USA explained that the company’s system works with Crossville’s surfacing solution because of the unique backing configuration and proven performance during testing for extreme conditions. 

Bhojwani Tower, with its new Crossville gauged porcelain tile panel exterior, stands out on the skyline of Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.

During testing, a standard piece of  2” x 4” lumber is shot out of an air cannon at a rate of 50 feet per second (fps). That’s over 34 miles per hour. This exercise shows simulated impact from airborne objects in hurricane situations.

“We have a honeycomb backer that is .75” thick,” Slain said. “We bond the gauged porcelain tile panels to our core.” After testing, the HyCOMB panels sustained minimal damage from the projectile 2” x 4”s, and remained intact, he said. 

Crossville’s panels are 1M x 3M and relatively simple to work with for experienced installers who have received training with the material. The bonding of the tile panels to the HyCOMB USA core offers distinct efficiencies unparalleled by other surfacing options.

Slain said, “To direct bond, it would require more time because each row would have to set for a day. Our panels are independent of each other and held in place by mechanical fasteners. They do not rest on the layer below. On normal-size stone panels we would need a five-man crew. With the Crossville porcelain tile panels, we use three people and produce twice the square footage each day.”

Lightweight, heavy duty

The combination of Crossville’s gauged porcelain tile panels and the HyCOMB system achieved the aesthetic and technical performance requirements of this high-profile project

Another major advantage of using the Crossville tile panels is the weight compared to other cladding options. These panels are lightweight enough to be handled by fewer workers. This is important to note for the Bhojwani project because of its location on a busy street corner in the heart of the tourist district. If the architects had specified natural stone, the project team would have faced more time-consuming challenges and safety issues. With the porcelain panels, the three-man crew was able to lift the tiles through the scaffolding and put them in place using HyCOMB’s fastening system – reducing both time and risk factors for the project during installation.

Beyond the benefits of installation efficiencies, the tile panels’ classic, timeless look answers aesthetic demands and is actually more consistent in appearance than other materials such as natural stone.

Robert Sutnick, Crossville, Inc. A&D representative, and Dan Slain of HyCOMB at HyCOMB offices in Hallandale Beach.

The panels not only offer a beautiful appearance for the building, but they will also be able to withstand the harsh South Florida elements. They’re innately resistant to UV rays and are highly scratch-proof and resistant to deep abrasion. Also, the panels are eco-friendly, as the body of the tiles is comprised of natural raw materials, and the tile does not release toxins into the environment.

Right style, right performance, right for the environment – Crossville’s porcelain tile panels are ideal for Miami Beach’s preservation standards and the seasonless appeal of this iconic destination.




Architect: Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design

Tile Installer: Carolina Correa with Stoneworks, USA

Tile Distributor: D&B Tile Distributors

Mechanical Fastening System: HyCOMB USA

Photography: Dick Booth, Boca Publishing

Gauged porcelain tiles from Crossville, Inc.

Prior to installation, precut panels are laid out in the warehouse to ensure a match with adjoining pieces for a more continuous flow.

Women in Tile 2018

Excellence, dedication, creativity and a passion for learning are the hallmarks of these female tilers

To quote a line from the theme song to the much-loved television show Cheers, “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.” You bet! It’s a challenge to develop a craft, establish a business, and infuse projects with creativity and excellence. 

These women have risen to the challenge and made their mark on the tile industry at home and across the pond. Each and every one is a credit to the trade, raising the bar with her own particular brand of brilliance and distinction. Let’s meet this year’s Women In Tile:

Sharon Taylor, Viva Tiling
London, UK

It’s never too late to enter the tiling trade as stellar mosaicist Sharon Taylor of Viva Tiling ( in the UK has proven. After her packaging design job of 20 years was made redundant, she discovered tiling courses through a four-week course at

Specialist Trade Courses (STC) in Harlow, Essex UK. That was 11 years ago, when she was in her 40s with bills to pay. Taylor said she “… didn’t have the luxury of time to do an apprenticeship or start laboring for another tiler. After the course, I went straight out on my own doing small jobs.” 

Learning the building trade proved to be a massive learning curve and she kept learning. When STC offered a beginner’s Bisazza mosaic course, she took it and found out she had a knack for it. That was followed by an advanced course at Bisazza headquarters in Vincenza, Italy, in 2008. Today, she has a reputation for stunning mosaic installs in the UK and on social media where her creations draw praise and admiration. 

In 2017, Sharon Taylor was the first woman to be nominated and win The Tile Association’s Tile Fixer of the Year Award. Dave Rowley, training manager of Building Adhesives Ltd, and TTA board member presents the award.

Because there is no licensing requirement for residential installation in the UK, after getting her Blue Skilled Worker CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) Card for Tiling, she did some commercial wall and floor installs. “I wasn’t enjoying general tiling, especially as tiles were getting bigger and heavier,” Taylor said. “After doing a few steam rooms I decided to drop the larger stuff and just push the mosaic work. It was a bit of a risk but it paid off. I’m self employed so why do something I don’t enjoy?” She visited a number of Bisazza suppliers showing her work and did her first steam room for a wellness center contractor. “I did my first steam room for them in 2012, and still do work for them.”

Although female tilers are relatively rare in the UK, she finds that some customers actually prefer tradeswomen, since “we’re seen as being more reliable, tidy and conscientious etc.,” It’s also a benefit when dealing with the woman of the house in residential jobs, she discovered. 

Amazing mosaic work in this steamroom by Sharon Taylor.

A member of The Tiling Association (TTA), Taylor both celebrated the 10 year anniversary of Viva Tiling and won the TTA Tile Fixer of the Year Award in 2017 – the first woman ever nominated and the first female winner. “I was gobsmacked,” she said. “This year I was honored to be asked to present the award to this year’s winner.”

Taylor loves the “fiddly details” when working with mosaics, and aspires to get into teaching. “There aren’t any mosaic courses here anymore as far as I’m aware,” she said. “I often get messages from tilers for advice on installing mosaics and I’m always happy to help. Social media is always good for showing how you do certain things. I never understand it when some get protective over their knowledge.”

Bethany Sheridan,
Nova Tileworx, LLC
Sterling, Va. 

A self-proclaimed rebellious, confident spirit, Bethany Sheridan of Nova Tileworx, LLC ( in Silver Spring, Md., seemed to have been born with a love for building. “The men in my family would have building wars on the weekends, and I desperately wanted to participate,” she said. “I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and if you say I can’t, I will show you I can,” she added. 

She developed a fascination with concrete 20 years ago, intrigued by the “endless possibilities of colors, aggregates, size, shape and functionality that could last a lifetime.” But the heavy, unforgiving nature of the material gave way to a love for tile, which she calls “more manageable,” but still allows her to “play in the mud.” She entered the tile business 13 years ago. 

Self-taught, Sheridan continues the process daily. “It’s a never-ending process with tools, technique, and most of all materials,” she said, where she is “always looking for the best product for each application.”

Sheridan continues to learn daily, always looking for the best product for every application.

She credits the tile groups on social media with providing “tons of advice and suggestions. I’m grateful to have met so many wonderful people in the industry, who have given me guidance and treated me with the utmost respect. 

“It’s not always been easy; it’s a tough job,” she added. “I’ve been run into the ground with menial pay subcontracting for multiple companies. I’ve since learned the value of my skill and my worth. Being a female, I’m very detailed and meticulous with my work, as I feel I have something to prove.” 

Sheridan participated in the Madison Fields Project with the Tile Geeks group last fall, working with 14 other tile setters on this inclusive farm and equestrian center in Dickerson, Md., that fosters a nurturing, healing setting for children and adults with autism, developmental disabilities, wounded veterans, and the local community. 

She said, “I enjoyed working with a team that accomplished so much in a short period of time, all for a good cause. It was also great getting to know my online friends from Tile Geeks. I would certainly do it again.”

Kelly Knipper, Floorology
Rothchilds, Wis.

The recession had devastating effects on many people across the country, and the consulting firm where Kelly Knipper was employed was no exception. However, when her job was eliminated, it opened the door to partnering with her flooring-and-tile-installer husband Tim to start a flooring business. After attending an entrepreneurial training course, she had completed a business plan by May 2011 and Floorology ( was officially formed. It opened in a 375-sq.-ft. office space at the Wausau Business Incubator, now known as the Entrepreneurial & Education Center.

Kelly Knipper of Floorology (l) with Bonnie Fernandez of Wirtz Quality Installations at the 2018 Five Star Contractor Summer meeting in Nashville.

She put her talents to work as a design consultant to help clients – “women like me,” Knipper said – visualize their projects. And she had a vision of creating something different in the way of showrooms. After researching showrooms in New York City and Chicago, Floorology developed a showroom that inspires clients, and helps them visualize products in different settings through the use of vignettes. 

“Every time someone walks in and says, ‘wow’ I feel we have accomplished our goal,” she said. 

She helped up the comfort factor by creating a homey feel and instituting more of a designer-oriented model that assists clients transforming their dreams into reality. “We don’t just want people’s money; we want to give people a space that they will love and build relationships,” she said. “We have no obligation or incentive to push certain products; our goal is to treat customers as we would want to be treated if in their shoes.” The result is offering products and services that aren’t usually available in her small-town locale. 

“We want to give people a space that they will love and build relationships,” Knipper said.

Floorology received great support from the Entrepreneurial & Education Center advisors, experienced friends in the tile industry who were willing to work for little to no pay to help this start-up, interns who worked for gas money and family who provided a small loan to fund equipment. Knipper also credits ancient teachings and wisdom in the Bible. “For example, there is a very useful Bible principle: Put everything in writing!” she said. “When the prophet Jeremiah bought land, he wrote two copies of the agreement, had one copy signed by witnesses, and stored both documents for future reference (Jeremiah 32:9-12).” She found this practice helped the budding business avoid “misunderstandings, disappointments and disagreements.” 

Though she admits that to many onlookers it seemed crazy to start a business in the midst of the recession, “we could see the vision so clearly, that failure was never a realistic thought,” she said. “For every five people that thought we couldn’t do it, there was one who thought we could and these people were instrumental in our growth and success.”

In the intervening years,
Floorology moved out of the incubator into a new 2,500-sq.-ft. showroom. Tim became a Certified Tile Installer in 2016 and Floorology became a Five Star Contractor in 2017. This year, Floorology received the NTCA Five Star Contractor Residential Project of the Year Achievement of Excellence Award. 

“Against all odds and in spite of many obstacles, we have experienced growth every single year we have been in business and are in the process of expanding,” she said. 

Paige Pomerene,
P2 Customs
Herndon, Va. 

Paige Pomerene, owner of P2 Customs ( is relatively new to tile and to NTCA, becoming a member at a workshop given in Springfield, Va., given by NTCA Technical Trainer Mark Heinlein. But she brings a lot of passion, creativity and determination to the trade since she first touched tile in 2013.

“Tile is an art to me and I’ve always loved being creative,” she said. “Tile can be a way to express myself. I love to be challenged and create a beautiful tiled area.” She calls her greatest accomplishment, “My clients’ happiness when they see their tiled area.”

She asked, “Is passion considered a skill? Because all I want to do is keep improving. I’ve participated in wedi’s PRO Certification to gain a 20 year warranty on my wedi installs. I’ve also been to NTCA and Schluter educational courses.”

Pomerene enjoys being recognized for her work, but that has more to do with her pride in her craft, and little to do with her gender. “I want to be recognized for quality installs first and my sex second,” she said. “Whether you’re male or female or whatever you identify as, your skills are measured by your passion and the pride you take in your work. I hope I’ve been received as a person who cares about their work. That’s all I want to prove. I like to share my work on social media platforms. But I’ve never felt the need for additional credibility. I am my biggest critic.”

“I hope I’ve been received as a person who cares about their work. That’s all I want to prove,” Pomerene said.

Social media has opened up a new world of support for her, from apps like Instagram, and the Facebook Global Tile Posse, and Tile Geeks pages.

The NTCA has also provided a lot of assistance. “I learned everything wrong on how to tile, and with them and their standards I was able to learn how to do things right,” she said. 

Joining the industry

Our women in tile welcome other sisters to join their ranks. “If they love to work with their hands and be creative, I think this is the industry for you,” Pomerene said, advising patience. “Know that nine times out of 10, a job will never go the way you want it to. Tiles are never perfect and part of being a tiler is being a part-time magician. Never work tired because you may make a silly mistake. Know your worth and never settle for less! Don’t be afraid to ask any questions!”

And Floorology’s Knipper called the tile industry “an excellent career for women. It’s a challenging and very fulfilling field filled with so many amazing, hard-working people.”

“Swimmin’ with the Fishes” at Hacienda Mosaico

LATICRETE products bring student mosaic projects to life at Mexican resort

Every artist was first an amateur,” said American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. 

While Emerson’s craft was words, deep in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, an artist-owned and operated resort called Hacienda Mosaico celebrates creativity through its hands. Designed to offer accessible art and inspirational workshops to students in a non-competitive setting, the resort boasts an exotic and tropical backdrop to fuel ideas in a fun, group atmosphere. 

Virginia-based artist, author and educator Bonnie Fitzgerald has been an in-house instructor at Hacienda Mosaico for six years, where she annually leads five-day workshops. As the founder and owner of Maverick Mosaics, she has gained notoriety in North America as an expert in mosaic artwork. Each year, Fitzgerald’s workshop at the resort allows students to create and install pieces to be displayed throughout the expansive property, including mosaic tables and fused glass tableware.

Along with 12 students, Fitzgerald recently designed and completed an art installation in the lush garden area surrounding the resort pool called “Swimmin’ with the Fishes.” Using LATICRETE® products, Fitzgerald’s pupils learned installation techniques, how to best choose appropriate substrates and tips to avoid substandard products that can lead to weak, crumbling outdoor mosaics. 

“LATICRETE is known for delivering the highest-quality products and value, which allowed me to focus on my art and not the integrity of my installation materials,” Fitzgerald said. “With the support of LATICRETE co-owner and Senior Vice President of Training Henry Rothberg, I received all materials needed to completely transform the pool area of Hacienda Mosaico with my students. The research and development of the products, as well as the customer and technical service, are all top shelf. From the beginning, LATICRETE was just a call away if help was ever needed.”

The challenges: keeping it simple and lightweight

Simplicity: Maverick Mosaics’ workshops at Hacienda Mosaico are open to all levels of artists, including those who have zero experience with mosaics. To ensure a successful installation, the materials needed to be easy to handle for a professional or a complete beginner. 

Weight: Fitzgerald would be tasked with flying materials from Virginia to the resort in Mexico. It was important all products selected be light, as heavyweight products would cause an additional undertaking when traveling. 


While at her home studio, Fitzgerald and her team of professionals cut the 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) HYDRO BAN® Board with a jigsaw into the desired shapes, including turtles, seaweed and an octopus. Students attending the workshop would install the board along with mosaic tiles at Hacienda Resort. Due to the light weight of the products, Fitzgerald was able to travel to the Mexican resort with the pre-engineered pieces in checked suitcases. 

Thanks to its waterproof high-density extruded polystyrene core and waterproof membrane on both sides, HYDRO BAN Board offers triple protection from water and vapor intrusion. The product benefits are ideal for outdoor installations, such as what Fitzgerald was creating at the resort pool. 

“In the past, I have used locally sourced thinset and found it was more difficult to work with, given the ratio of sand to Portland cement affects the consistency of the product,” added Fitzgerald. “I know I can count on easy-to-use LATICRETE products for a lasting installation.”

To adhere the mosaic designs to the exterior wall overlooking the resort pool, 254 Platinum was chosen thanks to its superior strength and bond. Designed for a simple install, the high-performance, polymer-fortified mortar only requires mixing with water. This makes it easier for the students to work with, compared to a product with a more complicated mixing process. 254 Platinum also has a long open time for enhanced workability that allowed students to work at their own pace without having to rush. 

All raw edges were covered with alkali-resistant fiberglass mesh tape and a skim coat of 254 Platinum that the students colored black with concrete colorants. A few of the pieces, including the octopus’s tentacles, were installed with mosaic tiles around the edges to enhance their aesthetic appeal. 

The 12 students who attended the workshop was hands-on throughout the entire creative and fabrication process, which Fitzgerald made as simple as possible with the installation materials chosen and her techniques. Each of the elements was built on the substrate, grouted in the studio onsite and then screwed and glued to the plaster lathe wall. 254 Platinum was used on the backs of the elements as well for added security to ensure a lifelong mosaic tile installation. 

A resounding result

“We are thrilled with the final result of ‘Swimmin’ with the Fishes’ and intend to keep the project as a permanent installation at Hacienda Mosaico,” said resort owner Sam Leonard. “The work Bonnie has done to enhance Hacienda Mosaico through her workshops and use of LATICRETE products is immeasurable and makes this place live up to its name.” 

Fitzgerald’s seventh trip to Hacienda Mosaico is scheduled for January 2019. 

Gauging Savings: USI Porcelain Panel Project Saves Time & Money

More than three decades ago, global tile manufacturers introduced through-body porcelain tile, and it quickly and seemingly became the industry’s cure-all. Being more molecularly compact than typical glazed ceramic tile, it offered the same durability and resistance to moisture, as did solid granite… and, at a lesser price-point. 

Over the years, porcelain formats morphed into gargantuan tile sizes as large as 36” x 48.” And these tiles were no longer just “through-body” versions. Advanced inkjet printing processes were developed that actually gave the tiles both “looks” and textures resulting in it being almost impossible to discern whether or not they were true natural materials. And, this printing procedure was no flimsy topcoat. Airports around the globe, for example, which have tens of thousands of people racing across their terminal floors pulling wheeled luggage on a daily basis, have been successful with their specification of HD printed, porcelain flooring. 

So what was next in the world of porcellanato? In the last few years, a new phenomenon has appeared, now termed “gauged porcelain panels.” These are extremely large tile slabs, produced with fine porcelain clay, manufactured to minimal tile thickness without compromising the performance levels inherent to porcelain tile. Visionary architects are specifying this material for a myriad of applications, including to be installed directly over existing tile (which means the arduous, messy, time-consuming and disruptive process of removing ceramic tile can be eliminated), as monolithic-appearing wall applications… and, even to perform as exterior cladding. Relative to vertical installations, one of the few disadvantages of “regular” porcelain tile is weight. Gauged porcelain panels have become the ideal alternative, because when installed correctly, due to having much lighter weight, various structural components can be reduced… saving a great deal of installation time and out-of-pocket money. A good example of this took place recently at the University of Southern Indiana’s Health & Professions Building. 

Crossville’s Laminam gauged porcelain panels were specified for this interior project, which consisted of 2,500 square feet of wall space for a commercial kitchen classroom. “Originally, we bid the job to be tiled using a traditional mortar system. Adam Abell, our Bostik representative, came in and asked if we would consider an alternative installation system that offered a host of benefits,” stated Danny Fulton, Vice President of Evansville, IN-based Fulton Tile & Stone. “We were ready to begin the project, but because of our strong rapport with Adam, we granted him some presentation time that included having our Crossville representative, Tony Davis attending along with our team. I had no idea of what Bosti-Set™ was… or, what it could do. But in retrospect, granting Adam time to showcase his new product proved be one of the best decisions we’ve made in a long time!” 

Abell demonstrated how projects calling for gauged porcelain panels could be installed in roughly half the time, even with a smaller crew. He showed how Bosti-Set™ immediately grabbed porcelain tile panels in a single coat, did not allow any sag, yet made it possible for these panels to be “reposition-able” for at least 30 minutes. “As a business owner, I’m always looking for efficiencies that are timesaving and ultimately, cost saving,” added Fulton. “So ultimately, we decided to work with this newer product. 

“We had a lot to learn,” Fulton continued, “as the panels basically had to be ‘picked up’ using suction cups with aluminum spines, not unlike the way glass panels are installed. A single layer of adhesive is troweled only onto the back of the panel, cutting the square footage necessary to trowel in half. This also cuts down on weight… and, deadline stress on our installers.”

Fulton went on to state that he was so captivated by this project… he actually put on his accountant’s hat and followed every single step to measure the overall savings. “There is no mixing needed with this system,” he mentioned. “It’s just ‘open and go.’ Other systems require a 50 lb. bag of thin-set per panel. This project had 70 panels to install, and I estimated that without mixing, we could roughly save 30 minutes per panel on the installation alone, not to mention the mixing time and chasing water that was completely eliminated. Ultimately, for this 2,500 square foot project, even though Bosti-Set™ is a bit more costly than other products, we may have saved close to $5,000 just by using it. “And, that number is very conservative!” Fulton beamed.

He added that the project worked out so well, “Fulton Tile & Stone has begun to use Bosti-Set™ on a regular basis for other projects we have in the queue, including ‘phase two’ at the USI facility.”

Gauged porcelain panels have certainly become the rage. According to Martin Howard, Executive Vice President of David Allen Company and current President of the National Tile Contractors Association, “This newer product offering has been accepted in the marketplace because, in particular, architects and designers see the advantages offered by a large panel format that is much lighter in weight than other high-performance surfacing options. And due to their expansive size, there are less grout joints visible. That means a wall application, for example, can give the appearance of stone veneer at a lower price point, because single slab appearance is now possible.” 

“You can’t learn how to use the system overnight,” declared Fulton. “So, we decided to have all of our installers take as much time to learn this system as they needed. Both Bostik and Crossville helped us with educating our team at optimal levels. Generally in our business, some of the more seasoned installers want to stick with methods they’ve used in the past. I thoroughly understand that. But when we were able to prove to all our installers that not only was Bosti-Set™ easier to use… it allowed them to finish projects earlier and the move on to the next one…  I think they were all very much sold!”

Fulton Tile & Stone depends upon its major distributor, Louisville Tile for the great percentage of tile and sundry materials used in the many installations for which the firm is engaged. Don Kincaid, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Louisville Tile, believes gauged porcelain tile panels have a very, very bright future. “In particular for the commercial sector, these materials are gaining more and more acceptance. Designs calling for gauged porcelain, at this early stage of its existence, most likely are coming from savvy architectural designers who understand it doesn’t just add a monolithic look due to having minimal grout lines. It offers many more solutions, one being because it is so much lighter in weight than natural stone… it can be directly installed on vertical surfaces as a viable alternative. And, because of the realism generated by today’s amazing high-definition inkjet printing processes, very few people will not know the product isn’t an actual stone slab. 

“We also believe,” continued Kincaid, “that gauged panels will soon be specified on a regular basis for residential applications, one example being shower walls. Forward-minded installation professionals such as those at Fulton Tile & Stone, understand how glass panels are adhered to walls, and will continue to embrace the best ways in which to install these products.  Now that there is a product such as Bosti-Set™, which offers so many installation performance benefits, we at Louisville Tile are even more positive about this product category.”

Kincaid was also extremely positive about the University of Southern Indiana gauged porcelain panel project. “And why not?” he declared. “That’s my alma mater!”




MAPEI helps restore Hugh L. Carey/Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel

The Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel, officially known as the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, is a toll road in New York City that crosses under the East River to connect the Borough of Manhattan with the Borough of Brooklyn. At 9,117 feet (2,779 m) in length, it is the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in North America.

The New York City Tunnel Authority began construction on the tunnel back in 1940, to help relieve traffic on the three East River bridges. In the original installation, 799,000 wall and ceiling tiles were installed in the structure. The job extended a full decade, partially due to a

three-year delay caused by material shortages during World War II*. The

The tunnel after the storm caused by Superstorm Sandy.

Hugh L. Carey Tunnel officially opened in 1950 and consists of twin tubes, capable of carrying thousands of automobiles along four traffic lanes. In December 2010, the tunnel was officially named after former New York Governor Hugh L. Carey.

On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy made landfall on the East Coast of the United States – near Atlantic City, N.J. – with maximum winds of 80 miles per hour and driving rain. The Category 1 storm breached the seawalls in New Jersey and New York, causing massive flooding in streets, subways and tunnels. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel itself was flooded with 60 million gallons (227 million liters) of salt water that needed to be removed from its two tubes. The damage done to the walls of the tunnel and the removal process required extensive repairs including 800,000 tile replacements and additional enhancements to prevent future disaster.

MAPEI solutions help repair and restore the tunnel

Preparing the installation bed with MAPEI’s Modified Mortar Bed.

Gibraltar Contracting, the tile contractor on the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel project, was asked to float a new mortar bed and install 400,000 sq. ft. (37 161 m2) of 6˝ x 6˝ (15 x 15 cm) Agrob Buchtal “Chroma” façade tiles across walls 15 feet high (4,57 m) of the 1.73 miles (2,78 km) of the Manhattan-to-Brooklyn side of the tunnel in the first phase of the restoration work. The Chroma tiles offer easier cleaning, as well as diffuse light for motorists. These tiles also act as a fire-retardant, providing a protective coating for the tunnel in the event of a fire.

Installing tiles with MAPEI’s Ultraflex 3.

The biggest challenge for the Gibraltar crew came in preparing the mud bed for the setting of the tiles. After the tunnel flooded, the removal of the original tiles left an extreme profile on the surface of the concrete walls. This profile had to be completely filled and leveled with a non-sagging mortar in order for the tiles to properly set. Further, engineers from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), operator of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, required the most efficient system for reconstructing the tunnel and specified very stringent requirements for restoration of the walls and the application of new tiles. The Gibraltar crew turned to MAPEI tile installation products for the high-quality durability the job specified.

View of the exterior entrances of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel in New York.

The Gibraltar Contracting crew applied two lifts (float coats) of MAPEI’s Modified Mortar Bed, a premixed, cement-based, polymer-modified, thick-bed and render mortar that includes a blend of select aggregates. This was a great solution because, rather than requiring the use of a latex additive, Modified Mortar Bed only requires mixing with water to produce a high-performance bond. This mortar was applied to the damaged tunnel walls providing a smooth, curved substrate for the setting of the tiles.

With that challenge well met, the Gibraltar crew moved on to setting the nearly 800,000 white and

The maintenance access areas are designated with mint-green tiles.

blue tiles with yellow accents. Around the tunnel’s periodic maintenance access areas, they installed mint-green tiles to make these areas easily visible. Regardless of color, all of the tiles were set with Ultraflex™ 3, the strongest mortar in MAPEI’s Ultraflex series. The crew then grouted all the joints with Ultracolor® Plus FA, MAPEI’s fine-aggregate, fast-setting, efflorescence-free grout. Ultracolor Plus FA’s built-in DropEffect™ technology reduces surface absorption, helping to repel water, dirt and grime from penetrating grout joints.

Work on the Manhattan-to-Brooklyn tube of the

The Chroma tiles grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA.

tunnel was completed in March 2017. During the 2017-2018 timeframe, the Gibraltar crew repeated the entire process, heading through the other tube of the tunnel, from Brooklyn back to Manhattan. To ensure future protection from flooding, 44,600 pound bronze flood gates were also installed at either entrance of the tunnel. The 22˝ thick, 29´ x 14´ gates were made by Walz & Krenner, Inc., of Oxford, Connecticut, a marine-based-company specializing in the design and supply of custom watertight closures. MAPEI was honored to help in the restoration of one of New York City’s most historic tunnels. 

*According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) website.


The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is a 9,117-foot tunnel under the East River that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan.



LATICRETE International, Inc. Acquires Remaining Interest in LATICRETE SUPERCAP, LLC

Acquisition will boost business to more effectively promote LATICRETE® SUPERCAP® concrete remediation solutions across North America


August 21, 2018, Bethany, Conn. — LATICRETE International, Inc., a leading manufacturer of globally-proven construction solutions for the building industry, has acquired the remaining interest in the LATICRETE SUPERCAP, LLC joint venture to fully integrate the businesses under one umbrella and invest additional resources to accelerate growth momentum.

“The LATICRETE SUPERCAP joint venture between LATICRETE and SUPERCAP was originally formed in 2012 to bring to a broader market revolutionary products and technology first introduced to the northeastern United States. Since its formation, the company has experienced excellent growth, has expanded internationally and has built an outstanding reputation for quality, speed and innovation,” said Edward Metcalf, LATICRETE North America President and COO.

The acquisition enables LATICRETE SUPERCAP to have a more concentrated and effective sales and marketing structure to spread the SUPERCAP message and promote other powerful concrete remediation products of the company across all of North America.

“As the construction industry continues to evolve and slowly transitions away from traditional and inefficient construction practices, we are well positioned to deliver value-added solutions that address the serious challenges of rising freight expense, declining labor availability and ever-tightening construction schedules,” added Metcalf.

LATICRETE® SUPERCAP® self-leveling underlayments are pumped into a building using a patented mobile blending unit, eliminating any dry material from entering the interior of the jobsite and the need for workers to haul and manually open hundreds of individual bags and pumping equipment. Additionally, SUPERCAP offers self-leveling underlayment Ready-Mix Delivery Service, a turnkey service that saves significant costs associated with purchasing, operating and maintaining one’s own pump truck.

LATICRETE will integrate all functions of LATICRETE SUPERCAP throughout the second half of 2018 with no disruption or changes to the products or customers’ transactions.

Since 1956, LATICRETE has aimed to improve the durability of buildings and create lasting customer relationships by manufacturing safe, innovative building materials and by treating customers, employees and partners like family. With approximately 1,600 team members worldwide, LATICRETE operates in more than 100 countries and distributes to every continent.


Green Risks and Rewards: Managing Legal Issues on Sustainable Projects

Defining the green project

There are four main steps to successfully managing legal issues that often arise in sustainable projects. The first step is establishing a clear understanding among all project participants of the owner’s green project goals and how they will be obtained. These may include energy and water consumption reduction, LEED® certification, tax credits, marketing purposes, or “greening” required by law. Understanding how specific goals will affect design professionals, general contractors, or specific trade contractors is critical to contractually defining a green project. But perhaps even more important is first asking: Are the goals attainable? The answer to that question is a key component to defining the project scope. 

Next, defining the scope requires identifying and taking inventory of the details in four areas:  design, materials, construction, and commissioning. The parties in each area should ensure that project participants (whether the design professional or the sub-trade) clearly understand their role and responsibility to meet green objectives. This includes implementing best practices such as contractually assigning risks based on who best can manage those risks. For example, one could allocate responsibility for third party certification submission to the owner’s agent, or, rather than guaranteeing a certification level, agreeing to use best efforts in designing or building towards a certification requirement. The third step is equally important: Getting buy-in from the owner – and all project participants – early and often as to the project’s sustainable objectives and how they will be achieved.

Managing green risk

Liability concerns arise with inexperienced teams, heightened standard of care, unachievable warranties, product failures, delays, insurance/bonding concerns, and handling of claims. The fourth step revolves around how well these risks are managed in green projects.

To avert the problems with inexperienced green construction teams, parties can assist owners in verifying credentials of all project participants – including subcontractors and consultants – and build a team with the requisite green design and construction experience. (This may not always be the lowest bidder.) But project participants may also want to avoid representing themselves as “green experts” as doing so could inadvertently increase standards of care and in turn impact insurability (as most insurers will not cover a heightened standard of care). In other words, the standard of care should be consistent with prevailing industry standards and those responsible for maintaining that standard must also be prepared to address continuously evolving green standards. Even with the right team in place it’s important to recognize that the contracting parties cannot make “green guarantees” in part because it’s impossible to control third parties. Consequently many sustainable project contracts are made to perform to green certification i.e., without warranting that certification will be met. 

Delays are an inherent risk in any type of project and can occur due to the unavailability of required products or because the work takes longer than anticipated. Risks also arise from green product failures or from implementing products not yet tested or insufficiently tested. Such delays can result in not meeting substantial completion or certification, or in the owner not obtaining the desired tax credits. Therefore, it’s imperative to proactively take responsibility for the risks of delays that each project participant can control. For example, participants may draft force majeure clauses that specifically identify “excusable delays” and include language underscoring that substantial completion will not equate to achievement of a certification level (as such certification will generally not be completed at the time the project is completed). 

When addressing insurance and bonding matters each project participant must evaluate and determine which policy will best cover “green” claims. Each of the types of policies available to the project team have their limitations or advantages:

Errors and Omission policies, procured by design professionals, generally will not provide coverage for warranties or guarantees, nor provide coverage for “green experts.” 

Builders’ Risk policies, procured by owners, generally will not include construction defects coverage. 

A Commercial General Liability policy, generally procured by contractors, presents coverage issues turning on questions such as: Is failing to meet a sustainable objective an “occurrence” that caused “property damage”? Does obtaining to meet green certification level equate to performing professional service? What about the mold and EFIS endorsement exclusions? 

When reviewing these types of policies, therefore, it’s important to bear in mind that obtaining a “green” endorsement will not cover guarantees to meet certain sustainable third party certification. 


When claims in green projects arise, they generally allege breach of contract, negligence, and misrepresentation (“Greenwashing”). These claims generally allege failure to meet or diligently pursue a green certification (such as failure to meet a LEED certification), failure of a product to provide the desired result (such as a bamboo roof that leaks), or failure to timely construct the green project (due to green products/materials delays).

Parties seeking to limit damages may try to contractually limit the timing of when claims can be filed and thus help to mitigate the unknown long-term performance risks. Parties may also seek to limit liability up to the level of insurance coverage or to the level of fees.  Furthermore parties may also agree to mutually waive consequential damages resulting from, e.g., termination of leases, breach of loan agreements, or the loss of tax credits, profits or reputation. 

Experienced teams support successful sustainable projects

Finally, what can parties do to reduce and manage the risks discussed above? Certainly educating the key players early and often is paramount as it helps to secure the owner’s buy in and maintains the project team engagement. Carefully choosing the best project delivery method, the proper allocation of risks, selecting the appropriate certification consultant and the commissioning and re-commissioning avenue are all necessary. Lastly, parties can also reduce their risks by ensuring timely notice and opportunities to cure and properly document issues that arise.  In the end retaining the right team experienced in executing a well-integrated approach to every aspect of the green project can often prove to be the most critical factor in a successful sustainable project.


Daniel A. Dorfman is Chair of the Construction Law Practice at Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll LLP, a full-service boutique business law firm based in Chicago, Ill. Daniel has a national practice representing owners/developers, design professionals, general contractors, subcontractors, specialty trades, and construction suppliers on their most important construction projects – both on the front end in drafting and negotiating complex construction agreements, and on the back end litigating and trying to verdict (when necessary) commercial construction disputes of all kinds when they arise. Daniel, a LEED® Green Associate, also has a focus in sustainable (“green”) building and the renewable energy markets. Daniel can be reached by email at [email protected]. 

Lasting art installations help transform new Northern California Children’s Hospital

Gary Drostle, uses LATICRETE products to adorn floor in Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

After more than a decade in the making, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford recently opened the doors to its new state-of-the-art building. At 521,000 sq. ft. (48,402 sm), the new building depicts California’s diverse ecosystem and natural beauty, with each floor representing a native eco-region. 

In a press release announcing the opening, the hospital describes the new 149-bed facility as being designed to transform the patient and family experience through nature and play. Its founder, the late Lucile Salter Packard was a known advocate for treating both the patient and their family, not just the illness. With this in mind, lead architect Robin Guenther, a principal with the architectural firm Perkins + Will in association with Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. and Mazzetti, set out to fulfill Packard’s vision by designing one of the country’s most sustainable children’s hospitals.

The new 149-bed facility as being designed to transform the patient and family experience through nature and play.

To bring to life two mosaic tile themes representative of California’s seashore and the Redwood Forest, international award-winning mosaic artist Gary Drostle and his company, UK-based Drostle Public Arts, created and installed 19 hand-cut mosaics using Winckelman Unglazed Porcelain, a set of bronze medallions and 700 hand-cast glass leaves to be set in a specially-designed terrazzo floor. After nearly two years of craftsmanship, Drostle’s designs were installed in the ground floor lobby area of the hospital and first-floor central corridor using LATICRETE® products.

International award-winning mosaic artist Gary Drostle and his company, UK-based Drostle Public Arts, created and installed 19 hand-cut mosaics using Winckelman Unglazed Porcelain, a set of bronze medallions and 700 hand-cast glass leaves to be set in a specially designed terrazzo floor.

“For each portion of our mosaic tile work, there was an appropriate LATICRETE product to ensure a lasting installation and bring the ‘wow’ factor with a pop of color in the grout,” Drostle said. “More importantly than that, each of the products chosen has received multiple certifications and declarations, including Health Product Declarations (HPD), Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) and UL GREENGUARD Gold Certifications for low chemical emissions for sustainable living. Over the years, our company has had great success using LATICRETE and their full range of quality products. We knew this time would be no different.” 

The new hospital features mosaic tile designs representative of California’s seashore and the Redwood Forest.

As the former president of the British Association for Modern Mosaic and a regular teacher and juror at the Society of American Mosaic Artists, Gary Drostle brought more than 30 years of experience of creating large-scale public mosaics for floors with him to the jobsite.

After nearly two years of craftsmanship, Drostle’s designs were installed in the ground floor lobby area of the hospital and first-floor central corridor using LATICRETE® products.

The challenges 

: Installing fine hand-cut mosaic is always a challenge due to the tolerance required in the setting of the work. To make this installation possible, Drostle and his team needed the specified LATICRETE products to deliver superb bond strength that would hold the adhesive bond between the mosaic sheet, while retaining a good open time for the slow and precise mosaic tile adjustments. 

: The tile work for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford needed to be completed speedily on a jobsite with many other contractors demanding the same workspace. Products used needed to be formulated with rapid-curing properties to meet efficient timelines.

Once on site to begin the mosaic panel installation, Drostle Public Arts’ installation crew applied NXT® Level, a cement-based underlayment for use in leveling interior substrates, on the ground floor lobby area and first-floor central corridor.

A LATICRETE solution: 

Once on site to begin the mosaic panel installation, Drostle Public Arts’ installation crew applied NXT® Level, a cement-based underlayment for use in leveling interior substrates, on the ground floor lobby area and first-floor central corridor. This product was selected to produce a flat, smooth and hard surface for the finished mosaic tile installation. Once cured, NXT Level is durable, fire- and heat-resistant, non-combustible, non-sensitive to moisture and maintenance-free, making it optimal for use in a healthcare facility. 

To adhere the 19 mosaic panels to their respective flooring areas, 254 Platinum was specified for its superior strength and bond.

To adhere the 19 mosaic panels to their respective flooring areas, 254 Platinum was specified for its superior strength and bond. Designed for a simple install, the one-step, polymer-fortified mortar only requires water for mixture and has a long open time for enhanced workability. 

PERMACOLOR® Select, an advanced high-performance cement grout that offers the industry’s first dispersible dry pigment solution, was used to grout all of the mosaic tile installations. With PERMACOLOR Select, Drostle Public Arts gained increased productivity and time savings on the jobsite, thanks to a faster time-to-grout and foot traffic permitted in as little as three hours. To add a pop of color, the team opted to use a PERMACOLOR Color Kit for a glossy Raven tint. 

PERMACOLOR® Select, an advanced high-performance cement grout that offers the industry’s first dispersible dry pigment solution, was used to grout all of the mosaic tile installations.


“Dale Foster, the local LATICRETE representative, was invaluable to the success of this project. As an international team traveling in for the installation, Dale quickly became the ‘go-to guy’ for any technical or logistical inquiries,” added Drostle. “Dale was on hand for any issues and continuously supplied help as the job progressed.”

In April of this year, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford announced that its new main building was awarded LEED Platinum status, the highest designation for sustainability recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council. Thanks to the architectural prowess of the Perkins + Will, Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. and Mazzetti team and leadership from the hospital, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford is one of just five hospitals in the world – and only the second children’s hospital – to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford is one of just five hospitals in the world — and only the second children’s hospital — to achieve LEED Platinum certification.


“For each portion of our mosaic tile work, there was an appropriate LATICRETE product to ensure a lasting installation and bring the ‘wow’ factor with a pop of color in the grout,” said mosaic artist Gary Drostle.

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