The Italian Connection

Cersaie generates new products; NTCA Five Star Contractors review the show

By Lesley Goddin

The 30th edition of the annual Cersaie show attracted a record number of international visitors to Bologna in late September. Some of those international attendees were four NTCA Five Star Contractors who traveled to Bologna to tour the Laminam plant and powwow with Crossville and Laminam personnel. These contractors gave jobsite perspectives on installation methods and approaches to the new Laminam by Crossville reduced-thickness/thin tile Crossville is importing exclusively into the U.S. (see related story in the January 2013 issue).

One couldn’t be in Bologna and miss the show, so our four contractors – Dan Welch, Welch Tile, James Woelfel, Artcraft Granite Marble & Tile Co., and Martin Howard and Chris Walker, with David Allen Company (DAC) –toured Cersaie, as well.

Contractors were thrilled with the opportunity to experience the international show, and to visit factories that produce innovative tile technology.

“I love going to Cersaie because I love Italian food, wine, cheese, cars, the countryside and history!” said DAC’s Martin Howard. “Oh yes, and then there are the beautiful tile, colors and design options that can turn one’s mind loose with creativity.

“Cersaie is definitely a buyers show, but the networking and contacts one can make are very beneficial,” Howard added. “It is possible to get an advance look at the next big look that’s coming or research new technologies like thin tile or ventilated façade systems.”

Another benefit of the show was the ability to compare construction similarities and differences as they relate to tile installation. DAC’s Chris Walker appreciated “the opportunity to view the work in progress modules being performed by skilled tile setters, which reinforced the difference between the U.S. methods and the European methods, since almost all substrates in Europe are mudbed.”

Dan Welch, a first-time visitor to Cersaie, was intrigued with lighted pre-manufactured expansion joints, as was James Woelfel, another first-timer, who said, “This could help in the U.S., as they add an architectural ingredient to necessary movement joints.” Of the show itself, Woelfel remarked, “I was very excited to go to Cersaie for the first time. The tile booths were more lavish than Coverings, as the show is much bigger.”



Seen on the Cersiae showroom floor were these major design trends, coming soon to a showroom near you:

  • Mix and match: patchwork tiles and varying color, size and material in one collection.
  • Antibacterial/self-cleaning and eco-friendly
  • Encaustic and majolica looks: bold solid colors and large sizes, patchwork effects and vintage encaustic looks, now created by high-tech printing
  • Planks: wood and cement looks dominate in this trend
  • Ceramic fabric and textile-derived aesthetics: plaid, silk, lace, tweed, damask and more can all be evoked by today’s tiles.
  • Installation made easy: new installation systems included clip systems for 2 cm thick porcelain tiles, quick-laying floors and monolithic porcelain slabs,  thick 20mm tiles which offer an incredibly high breakage load (up to 2,000 pounds) and can be dry-laid on grass, gravel, dirt, and cement without grout or adhesives.
  • Size matters: reduced-thickness/thin tiles and giant slabs are proliferating at an accelerated rate as acceptance of this new technology grows.
  • Digital printing: ink-jet technology continues to expand the possibilities for surface decoration.
  • Celebrity designers: artists, graphic designers and material architects are working with tile’s graphic potential and synergy with fixtures and accessories.

The next Cersaie show in Bologna will be September 24-28, 2013. Visit for more information about the show.

65th Anniversary marks historic year for NTCA

By Bart BettigaNTCA_logo_100pixels

2012 will be remembered by NTCA leaders as one of our most effective years in the history of the association. Established in 1947, the NTCA now is approaching 850 members dedicated to the professional installation of ceramic tile.  These are the largest membership figures in NTCA history!

While it is gratifying to see our membership growing, even more significant is the increase in support of our efforts by so many individuals. This is what is making a difference in our success. A great example of this took place at Coverings in 2012, where many NTCA members supported the staff by volunteering to work in our booth. The result was the most new members to ever sign up at Coverings or at any trade show exhibit in which NTCA has been involved.

The same can be said about the NTCA Workshop/Symposium program. Trainers Gerald Sloan and Michael Whistler performed in front of more than 3,000 industry professionals and signed up over 100 members in 2012. They could not have done this without volunteer help by members all over the country. On behalf of our staff and board of directors, we thank every one of you who attended and supported our training efforts.

2012: qualified labor language accepted in Handbook

Perhaps the most important achievement occurred in 2012: one I believe to be one of the most significant initiatives in the history of the NTCA. I am referring to the inclusion of language stating the importance of recommending or specifying qualified tile installers in the 2012 Tile Council of North America Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation. This effort was a joint initiative by the NTCA and the Tile Contractors’ Association of America, and was supported by the voting members of the Handbook Committee. In a short period of time, we are seeing architects and design professionals already including this language in the quality assurance sections of their specifications.

Advanced skills certification to come in 2013

As we transition from 2012 into 2013, we are excited to announce one of our most ambitious efforts to date related to the certification of qualified tile installers in the United States. On October 27th, at Total Solutions Plus in Palm Springs, California, the framework of an agreement to mutually develop and implement an advanced certification of task-specific skills was formed with the tile installation trade associations, in conjunction with several tile and installation material manufacturer representatives. We hope to further explain this effort at Surfaces in 2013, with the first installers actually being certified at Coverings in Atlanta, taking place April 29th-May 2nd. You will be hearing much more about this in the future; but for now I can tell you this is significant because consumers, project owners, builders, architects, dealers, etc. will be able to look confidently at a certification that is supported by the entire tile industry.

Leadership and support add to NTCA success

Incoming president Dan Welch of Welch Tile & Marble in Kent City, Mich., near Grand Rapids.

Incoming president Dan Welch of Welch Tile & Marble in Kent City, Mich., near Grand Rapids.

The NTCA continues to expand in membership and influence. We are taking an aggressive approach to establish our strategic initiatives. I would like to personally thank our president these past two years, Nyle Wadford of Neuse Tile Service in Youngsville, N.C., and welcome in our new president, Dan Welch, of Welch Tile & Marble near Grand Rapids, Mich. Both Nyle and Dan have been very involved in the growth and development of the association, and will continue to do so. I would also like to thank the entire staff of the NTCA, and the board of directors, committee members, state directors, and all the NTCA members who continue to support our efforts. The NTCA strives to be the Voice of the Tile Contractor, and I am proud to be a part of this mission.

Outgoing NTCA president Nyle Wadford (l.) of Neuse Tile Service, Youngsville, N.C. with James Woelfel of Artcraft Granite Marble & Tile, Mesa, Arizona. In addition to chairing the NTCA Technical Committee, Woelfel is first vice president for NTCA.

Outgoing NTCA president Nyle Wadford (l.) of Neuse Tile Service, Youngsville, N.C. with James Woelfel of Artcraft Granite Marble & Tile, Mesa, Arizona. In addition to chairing the NTCA Technical Committee, Woelfel is first vice president for NTCA.

At Coverings this year, many NTCA members supported the staff by volunteering to work in our booth. The result was the most new members to ever sign up at Coverings or at any trade show exhibit in which NTCA has been involved.

At Coverings this year, many NTCA members supported the staff by volunteering to work in our booth. The result was the most new members to ever sign up at Coverings or at any trade show exhibit in which NTCA has been involved.

Independent Manufacturer Reps Wanted!

NAC Products, Inc., the innovator of ECB™, the first self-adhering crack isolation membrane on the market, is seeking a diligent, professional, manufacturer’s representatives to sell our quality line of underlayment systems for tile, stone & other hard floor surfaces. Qualified candidates must be motivated, have a thorough knowledge of the flooring industry, and solid relationships with distributors.

NAC manufactures sheet and liquid membranes and companion products for crack isolation, waterproofing, sound and moisture control.  Markets are available throughout the US and Canada. Email resume to [email protected]

Marazzi Group mourns the death of its Chairman Filippo Marazzi

Chairman of the Board and President of Marazzi Group Filippo Marazzi died on Tuesday night of natural causes.

Filippo Marazzi, born in Sassuolo in 1949, has been responsible for the growth of the company founded by his grandfather in 1935.

If Marazzi today is one of the few true Italian multinationals, a brand and a business model renowned around the world, it is thanks to its Chairman Filippo Marazzi, his entrepreneurial spirit, the novelty of his ideas and his humanity, which have always been recognized within and outside the company.

Filippo Marazzi led this important ceramic company from the ceramics district of Sassuolo to the top of the industry at an international level.

Since the early 80s, after taking control of the company following the death of his father Pietro in 1978, Filippo Marazzi began the Group’s internationalization process  with the establishment of production facilities in Spain and in the United States by Marazzi Iberia S.A. and American Marazzi Tile Inc.

In February 1992, he was awarded the first honorary degree in chemistry granted by the Department of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences of the University of Modena (Italy), for his “pioneering work in promoting the study and application of avant-garde ceramic materials and for his important scientific contribution to the development of a very important sector in solid-state chemistry”.

In June 1995, Filippo Marazzi was given the honorary title of “Cavaliere del Lavoro” by the then President of the Italian Republic, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.

In 2002, he received the Pico della Mirandola Prize in “recognition of one who, with passion, conviction and spirit of self-sacrifice, throughout his business dealings supported an enterprise culture which promoted and consolidated the ‘Made in Italy’ label worldwide”.

Marazzi Group is today a world leader in the design, manufacture and sales of ceramic tiles and porcelain floor and wall tiles, with production plants in Italy, France, Spain, Russia and the United States, with over 6000 employees, an overall production of over 100 million square meters of ceramic tiles, and over 14,500 points of sale in more than 130 countries.


Wake Med Heart Patient Tower and Children’s Hospital

Wake Med gets new “heart” with expansion

David Allen Company tackles complicated challenges to bring beauty and functionality to project














Wake Med’s expansion into its new Heart Tower and Children’s Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., incorporated 87 patient rooms, six gang restrooms, and lobby for a total of 37,204 square feet of tile in 15 different tile colors and sizes. The project provided a number of challenges for locally-based NTCA Five Star Contractor David Allen Company (DAC), including adapting tile installation to out-of-level vinyl floors, and a complex grid of tile color and orientation changes in the main lobby.

The patient toilets in the Children’s wing had 12”x24” wall tile with a 1”x2” custom glass accent and vinyl flooring. The general contractor had an issue on a previous project where the vinyl flooring was not cut nicely to the ceramic tile base. To remedy this, the GC scheduled the wall tile installation after the vinyl floor. However, upon inspection after the vinyl floor installation, DAC discovered that almost half of the rooms had floors that were 1/4” to 1/2” out of level. To correct this problem, DAC needed to level the walls by scribing the cove base. This totaled about 2,100 linear feet. This adjustment caused issues with all of the switch plates, which were designed to be installed in the 6” bullnose above the glass accent. The condition in every restroom was different, thus requiring coordination with the electrician for all rooms.

From east to west, the main lobby is 388’ long. It is divided into three areas and consisted of three different 12”x24” tile colors. Every time the tile color changed, the orientation of the tile was rotated ninety degrees but the grout joints still had to align. Plus, every color change was either on a non-parallel line or a radius.


The three lobby sections had to be installed separately with the center section as the last to receive tile. Control lines were critical and difficult to obtain, since the tile contractor didn’t have a clear line of sight from one end to the other. DAC started its control line in the area with the public restrooms that were completed in phase I, on the west side of the building.

Control lines were created heading east down the north and south corridors. When the installation moved into the center section where the building wasn’t parallel, DAC had to transpose the control line into segments. Then the control line was continued in the east section, which is where the installation began. DAC moved west installing tile in the north and south corridors simultaneously. The north and south corridors’ pattern joined on the east side of the building to meet the public toilet tile.

The steel staircase had a 12”x48” step tread, with the 12”x24” tile brick pattern continued from the main floor on the risers and stringer. In combination with the difficulty of the brick pattern on a small stringer, it also had 2” steel glass supports that had to be core drilled through the tile. Precision was crucial in drilling because there was less than 1/8” overlap of the cover plate for the hole. DAC did a couple of field mock-ups for the owner and architect to see how the holes and the pattern looked together on the small stringer. Some of these areas were installed from a lift 15’ high.

Even with the difficulties, DAC often finished tile areas with days left on the schedule.

FEATURE COVER STORY – Tiling entryways and foyers

How to successfully install tiles in high-traffic areas prone to water, dirt, and movement stresses

By Sean Gerolimatos, Schluter Systems LP

Entryways and foyers vary in size, use, and style, depending on the type of building. Despite their inherent differences, there remain various requirements that apply to virtually every case. Much of the building traffic will enter via the entryway or foyer, making these spaces ideal for creating positive first impressions.

Ceramic tiles are durable, hygienic, and offer a wide range of design palettes, making them a perfect fit for these applications. A comprehensive installation system will ensure a successful tile application, thereby creating an entryway and foyer that is both attractive and durable, and sets the tone for the rest of the building. 

Mitigating movement stresses

Virtually all substrates present significant challenges for ceramic tile coverings. For example, all wood materials, including plywood, OSB, and framing members, are subject to expansion, contraction, bending, and deflection due to changes in moisture content and loading. Concrete, often considered a “good” substrate for tile, moves at a different rate than tile with changes in temperature, shrinks during the initial drying process as excess moisture is lost, and often cracks. This results in stresses in the tile covering and risks of cracking and delamination when tiles are bonded directly to the substrate using the thin-bed method.

Uncoupling membranes provide lateral flexibility and independent movement between the tile and substrate, limiting the transfer of movement stresses. This protects the tiles from damage, thereby improving the performance of thin-bed assemblies. This method is based on a configured membrane with an anchoring fleece laminated to the underside. The membrane is bonded to the substrate by embedding the anchoring fleece in thin-set mortar. The top of the membrane features a grid of cavities that provide a mechanical lock for the thin-set mortar used to set the tiles. Support for the tiles is ensured by the column-like mortar structures formed in these cavities, which carry the loads from the tiles to the structural base.

Because all tile coverings expand and contract with changes in moisture, temperature, and loading, movement joints are an essential component in any tile assembly. Prefabricated movement-joint profiles can replace sealant joints in tile fields and at restraining surfaces. These profiles provide a maintenance-free alternative to sealant joints that typically require periodic replacement. They also protect tile edges and improve the integrity of the tile assembly as a whole.

Waterproofing protects moisture-sensitive substrates

Inhabitants or visitors often track dirt, dust and water on their shoes when they enter the building. Uncoupling membranes are typically waterproof and offer essential protection for moisture-sensitive substrates. For complete waterproofing, seams and floor-to-wall transitions can be sealed with bonded waterproofing membranes. Waterproofing floor-to-wall transitions ensure that moisture from the outdoors and from cleaning solutions will not penetrate and damage the base of gypsum board walls.

Profiles enhance and finish tile bases

While wood bases are very popular and can be installed over bonded waterproofing membranes, tiled bases or wainscotings are more durable and hygienic in the long run. Poorly-designed floor-to-wall transitions, however, can collect dust and dirt and are difficult to keep clean. Cove base is a ceramic base that provides a rounded transition between the floor and wall, thus making cleaning easier. When tile lines don’t include cove base or other ceramic trim pieces, cove-shaped profiles provide a solution. They can be integrated with field tile to create a smooth, easy-to-clean transition that enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of the application.

The availability of ceramic tile trim supply can be spotty, depending on the manufacturer. In fact, imported European tile lines may not provide trim at all, since ceramic trim has limited use overseas. Wall profiles are an alternative to ceramic trim, which can be used instead of surface bullnose or to finish and protect tile edges at outside wall corners and at the top of tile bases and wainscotings.  A variety of accessories, including inside and outside corners, are available for most wall profiles.

Profiles are effective at floor-covering transitions

While most of us in the tile industry would prefer to see tiles used on floors throughout the building, in reality there is a need for clean transitions from tiled entryways and foyers to adjacent floor coverings, such as hardwood or carpet, particularly in residences.  Floor profiles are used to finish and protect tile edges at these transitions, with sloped profiles available to address height differences between tile coverings and adjacent floor coverings. In fact, many of these profiles provide slopes that comply with the guidelines in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Entrances that combine beauty with durability

Ceramic tiles are durable, hygienic, and offer a wide range of design options, making them the ideal covering for entryways and foyers. A comprehensive system approach as presented above will help ensure an attractive entrance into a home or public building that successfully combines beauty and utility with long-term durability.

Case Study – Virginia Contractor crafts crown jewel in Virginia Beach

The Town Center is one of the most prominent construction projects built throughout the entire Hampton Roads region in recent years, and is the keystone in Virginia Beach, Va.’s urban downtown central business district. Phase I of the projected four-phase Main Street-style development included the construction of a 21-story, 254,000 square foot office tower and high-end apartments with nearby upscale hotels, retail shops, parking garage, bank, and restaurants. Later phases – which covered 17 city blocks and 33 acres – brought in the 1,300-seat Sandler Center for Performing Arts, a towering Westin Hotel and luxury condominium residences, and further growth of residential, retail, parking and office space.

Phase I of the projected four-phase Main Street -style development included the construction of a 21-story, 254,000 square foot office tower and high-end apartments with nearby upscale hotels, retail shops, parking garage, bank, and restaurants.

Installed throughout the original 21-story tower were approximately 20,000 square feet of Daltile La CostaTM  ColorBody porcelain tile on the floors, walls and base in the bathrooms. Installed in the tower elevator lobbies were 4,000 square feet of granite tiles, fabricated granite vanities in the tower bathrooms, and 10,000 square feet of custom-fabricated exterior and interior granite floors, base, elevator surrounds and column cladding at the main entrance and throughout the lobby.

The most challenging – and ultimately, the most stunning part of the installation – was the main lobby, including an ornate geometric pattern consisting of five different granites imported from both Brazil and Saudi Arabia, and ornamental columns wrapped in dimensional granite wainscoting. The granites used on this project were Preto Aracruz (Black), Café Imperial (Brown), Asa Branca (White), Golden Leaf (Gold) and Turquoise (Blue).

Approximately 34,000 square feet of ceramic tile and granite throughout the original 21-story tower were installed on this project.

Innovative planning included importing full bundles of slabs of each of the granites prior to the start of the installation. By providing a solution before a problem ever occurred, the contractor was able to accommodate last minute revisions and changes, while still maintaining the schedule. With as many as 40 installers and fabricators sometimes working 7 days a week for three months straight, there was a flawless safety record on this project with zero lost-time incidents.

Proactive legwork made the project flow smoothly. To overcome the challenges and obstacles associated with installing an intricate pattern of granites quarried and fabricated in different countries, contractor personnel traveled to Americana Granitos in Brazil to inspect production and quality, and also to Orlando, Fla., to meet with Mystic Granite and Marble, the importer of the granite that was quarried and fabricated from Red Sea Mining in Saudi Arabia, ensuring that cut-to-size stones from two different countries would fit together perfectly.

MAPEI UltraFlex 1 mortar was used throughout the project. Tile was grouted with MAPEI Keracolor sanded grout and granite was grouted with Keracolor unsanded grout.

The collective result of hard work, thoughtful planning and careful attention to detail is reflected in the stunningly beautiful granite lobby, which is the crown jewel of the Town Center tower.

Personnel traveled to Brazil to inspect granite production and quality and to Orlando to meet with the importer of the Saudia Arabia-sourced granite to ensure the cut-to-size stones from two different countries were a perfect fit.

Ask the Experts – September 2012


We just installed a stone tile shower floor. It was sealed twice and shortly after white stuff kept showing on the floor even though the walls of the shower and the bathroom are of the same tile. We then removed the sealant and re-sealed it. Again shortly after this white stuff comes out. I have used an efflorescence cleaner which removed it, but the white stuff keeps coming back. Can you tell me what is happening and how we can fix it?

Thank you in advance for all your help.


Without being there on site and doing several destructive tests to determine the actual cause of the problem, I can give you several of the most common causes for the condition that you have described. First of all, given the cleaning product you have described, it sounds like soluble-salt efflorescence. This soluble salt is a natural product that is present in the Portland cement-based products used most often to produce the setting bed that is under the tile installation and the grout material that is used to fill the grout joints.

Natural stone tile may contain these mineral salts as well, especially if the natural stone is a softer material such as marble or limestone. These mineral salts may, and most often do, migrate when exposed to water or water vapor. As a way to control or minimize this efflorescence, water management is of the utmost importance. Careful consideration of the materials being used should be taken into account. Efflorescence that occurs after the tile or stone installation is in service is very difficult to stop or even control. Time and use will eventually cause all the “free mineral salts” to be exhausted and the problem will go away, but to fix this problem from the beginning will most likely require a removal of the entire shower floor, and may even require removal of portions of the walls or all the walls as well.

Starting fresh with a new shower framed and ready for tile or natural stone, the methods for proper shower assemblies can be found in the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation. These methods show pre-sloped shower pan assemblies, weep hole protectors, references to American National Standards Institute (ANSI)  for proper mixes and measures for setting beds such as 1-to-4-ratio of Portland cement to washed masonry sand used in many shower pan assemblies. The TCNA list cautions when using soft natural stone products in wet areas – if efflorescence may be of concern – a porcelain or ceramic tile that is made to resemble natural stone may be a safer choice.

A few things the NTCA Reference Manual has to say about the causes efflorescence are as follows:

  • Soluble salts from the Portland cement-based products brought to the surface by capillary action where there is water or moisture present.
  • Contaminated water or sand containing soluble salts.
  •  Excessive mineral content in the water used for maintenance.

I hope this information helps.

Gerald Sloan, NTCA trainer


The Coverings Installation Design (CID) Awards were co-sponsored by TileLetter and TADA magazines published by NTCA, and presented in April at the Coverings Expo in Orlando, Fla.

Residential: Mosaic & Glass Winner
Bella Leoni, Ada, Mich.
Installer: Inspired Inspirations
Designer: Signature Outdoor Concepts

Bella Leoni, or “beautiful lions,” is the name of this lavish pool project. It includes everything imaginable for pool-related entertaining and relaxation: 12-person infinity-edge hot tub, overhead aqueduct structure with four lion-head fountains at the base of the columns, rain wall with in-pool cocktail seating area behind a gas fire bowl, laminar jets, LED lighting features, swim-up bar with eight glass mosaic bar stools, and much more.

It took a lot of work to create this haven of relaxation. For starters, Inspired Installations had to rework the gunite base on the top-edge elevation of the infinity-edge hot tub since it was off 1.5” inches over its 12’ diameter. After correcting substrate imperfections, the mosaic installation began with  a 6’x38’ light-to-dark custom gradient of 1”x1” glass tiles  for the hot tub. But only the outside 16 inches of the tub could be installed using paper-faced sheets – the rest of the tub was concentric circles which necessitated cutting tiles and installing them as a single line, three to four at a time.

Inspired Installations built up a 1/2” pedestal layer with foam mat templates in the desired shape of the mosaic swirls. Rapid-setting patching compound was then pushed into the form to create the elevated pedestals in eight different accent areas of the pool and spa.












Commercial Mosaic & Glass
Smith Aquatic & Fitness Center, Charlottesville, Va.
Installer: The Ceiling & Floor Shop
Designer: Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype, Inc. (BH+A)

The Smith Aquatic Center is a new 27,000 square foot LEED Platinum-Certified facility designed to provide a variety of competitive and recreational swim activities and programs for all ages and abilities. This new structure achieves a 50% reduction in energy use compared to a code-baseline building.

Users can enjoy a range of water and fitness features such as the family recreation/leisure pool with zero-depth entry, a double waterslide, play structures and lazy river pictured, ADA handicap lift, and more. The design allows users the ability to view the outdoors and other areas of the facility from interior vantage points.

The main wall of the two-story natatorium features a vast amount of 7/8”x7/8” Prism® Factor OneTM Glass Tile from Mosaic Tile Supplies LLC with a custom gradient pattern called “falling rain.”  The design aim was to form a focal point that created a beautiful sense of movement that would not look outdated a few years after completion. MAPEI Ultralite Mortar and Keracolor U grout were used to set the mosaics.

Elsewhere in the building, materials were chosen for a combination of durability, ease of maintenance and aesthetics. It also employed numerous innovations for energy efficiencies and water reduction.

Marazzi Architectural Ventilated Wall System creates sustainable rainscreen

When the Evanston, Ill.-based professional design partnership BEHLES + BEHLES wanted a sustainable facade as part of the green design strategy for the branch banking facility of First Bank &Trust, the firm turned to Marazzi Architectural.

BEHLES + BEHLES closely collaborated with Marazzi Architectural representatives on the new LEED-Gold recognized facility, located within the Village of Skokie, Ill. Marazzi Architectural’s Ventilated Wall System was selected as one of the most visible elements of the sustainable design strategies implemented for the project.

DTI of Illinois, based in Aurora, Ill., installed approximately 5,200 square feet of Marazzi Architectural’s white and gray Monolith porcelain stoneware in rectified, large-format 12”x24” and 24”x48” modules on the specially-engineered, site-specific aluminum framework by Jurij Podolak, architectural engineer, CSI, ASCE, AAWE, associate AIA, and founder of VF Engineering ( The Monolith series, supplied by Great Lakes Distribution in Madison, Wis., boasts 40% recycled content.

“The Marazzi rep – Jerry Joyce – was absolutely terrific to work with on our initial rainscreen facade project, First Bank & Trust in Skokie, Ill.,” said Brian Castro, president of DTI of Illinois.

“We would NOT have been able to get the project done without his help. There were plenty of challenges, but Jerry was readily accessible at each and every one. He made himself present at the site on numerous occasions. “

Castro said the biggest challenge in this job was the bracket attachment to the building. But Marazzi’s help gave DTI the support needed to handle the situation. “Jerry worked around the clock to provide a solution that was compatible with American construction methods,” Castro added. “Once solved, the actual installation was a learning curve that was quickly absorbed by our union-trained professional installers.”

In Marazzi Architectural’s Ventilated Wall System, continuous external insulation provides uniformity in thermal protection, while the cladding material stops direct sun radiation. Together, they reduce unbalanced temperature distribution (thermal bridges that promote condensation and mold formation) and enhance the energy efficiency of the building.

To maximize these benefits, BEHLES + BEHLES super-sized the layers of insulation both within the building and on the exterior wrap to increase energy efficiencies as well as comfort levels inside the structure.

Other LEED/sustainable design highlights of the project include:

• A geo-thermal heat pump which extracts energy embedded in the earth, allowing for a 25% reduction in energy from non-renewable resources.
• A green roof covering 66% of the roof area of the building, reducing the urban heat island effect of conventional roofing systems.
• An underground site retention system that collects storm water run-off and returns better quantity and quality of run-off water to storm sewer.
• A building site that is a brown field redevelopment, with good access to public transportation and special allowances made for bicycles and low-emitting vehicles.
• A highly-insulated tile rainscreen exterior wall made from 40% recycled material that provides better thermal and moisture conditions for the interior spaces.
• Large floor-to-ceiling windows and high clerestory windows that bring ample daylight into the building, providing a better work environment for building employees.
• Energy efficient LED light fixtures that are used throughout the building.
• Use of water-efficient plumbing fixtures throughout the building that allow for a 42% reduction in overall use of potable water.
• 20% of all building materials obtained from recycled sources.
• 20% of all building materials obtained from regional sources (within 500 miles), decreasing energy use for materials transportation.
• Recycling of 90% of all construction waste, diverting that material away from landfills.
• Low-emitting paints, coatings, sealants, and floorings, creating a healthier work environment for building occupants.

Although the bank has only recently opened and comparative energy savings statistics are not yet available, typical results obtained with Marazzi Architectural’s Ventilated Wall System are up to 1/3 savings on energy usage. The large-format porcelain tile also offers excellent performance, both technical and aesthetic. Abrasion, freeze-thaw, fading, graffiti and harsh weather conditions become non-issues.

The ventilated façade overcomes all of the mechanical phenomena encountered during its lifetime, such as its own weight, suspended loads, external ambient shock, wind loading, deformation in the support structure, temperature or humidity variation, solar radiation, chemical and atmospheric agents.

All the sustainable design objectives were employed to demonstrate the client’s commitment to both the local Village community and the larger environmental community.

“It was so much fun, we’re presently in negotiations for two more larger similar projects,” said DTI’s Castro. “We’re very much looking forward to our next adventure.”

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