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.

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

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.

 

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

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.

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

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. 

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. 

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

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

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.

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.

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

University of Missouri student dining facility uses tile to define unique dining venues

More than 42,000 sq. ft. of tile – including large-format – were used at The Restaurants at Southwest

The Restaurants at Southwest, University of Missouri’s (Mizzou or MU) newest dining facility, features a collection of distinct dining venues, each with its own character, arranged to create a variety of dining experiences. From the soaring, two-story space of the Legacy Grille to the old-world charm of the pasta venue Olive & Oil, the new 600-seat dining center serves as the social hub of the Southwest Neighborhood and can accommodate 2,500-3,000 students living in the nearby residence halls and fraternity and sorority houses.

The finish materials selected by the designers on the project – KWK Architects and associate architect Lawrence Group – reinforce the concept menu and character for each venue, and tile was the first choice for the flooring and walls surfaces. 

“Tile provided a wide range of design possibilities, durability and ease of maintenance unmatched by other materials. Tile also contributed to the sustainable goals of the project, which is anticipated to achieve a LEED Silver certification,” said Sara Koester, AIA, Principal at KWK Architects. 

More than 42,000 sq. ft. of tile costing an estimated $200,000 were installed at The Restaurants at Southwest, said Project Manager Derek Kutz of tile contractor Richardet Floor Covering, Perryville, Mo. A team of up to 12 installers had just 10 weeks to complete the intricate tile project, which included 20,000 sq. ft. of floor tile; 22,000 sq. ft. of wall tile; 20 different styles of Schluter metal edging; 48 different tile styles; 620 50-lb. bags of mortar; 268 units of epoxy grout and 100 units of grout. The main tile manufacturers used on the project included: Crossville, American Olean, Marazzi USA and Daltile. Floor tile formats included 6” x 6”, 12” x 12”, 12” x 24”, 6” x 24”, 24” x 24” and 6” x 36”.

“This was by far one of the most tedious tile jobs, with the most tile patterns and selections, that we have ever worked on,” said Kutz. “We were able to stay on top of the tile design details by having one worker behind the blueprint and one on the wall at all times.”

Legacy Grille

The main venue of the dining facility is the Legacy Grille, which is designed to celebrate the rich heritage of MU sports and is filled with historic photographs in large wall murals, accented with the patterns and colors of the school’s mascot, the tiger. Unglazed ceramic mosaic tile in a multicolored, custom tiger-striped pattern is used on the venue fronts and soffit. 

Small-size tile (1” x 1”) worked well for creating the curved shapes of the tiger stripes, one of the more challenging tile jobs on the project. Tile installers spent 10-12 hours cutting the 1’ x 2’ tile sheets into the desired pattern. The complex pattern was laid out on the floor and approved by the architect prior to being pieced together on the wall during installation. 

 

Tiger Avenue Deli

The Tiger Avenue Deli has an urban feel and features hot deli sandwiches fresh off the grill. Bright orange tiles pop across the back wall to animate the venue and add to the “sizzle” feel. 

1+5+3

The soup-and-salad venue, 1+5+3, features dark brown subway tile on the back wall as a contrast to the bamboo wood venue front, and a shocking lime green glass tile accent band across the front signals that this is the “fresh and healthy venue.”

1839 Kitchen

The home-cooking station, 1839 Kitchen, has a traditional look with raised wood cabinets, copper accents and “marble” counters. A two-colored, two-sized tile pattern was used to animate the back wall and add to the residential character. 

 

Olive & Oil

Olive & Oil, a Mediterranean and pasta concept, features hand-painted, decorative tiles and painted plaster walls for an “old-world” feel. 

Truffles

The dessert venue, Truffles, has a rich palette of glass tiles in golds and purples and chocolate- and caramel-colored walls and ceilings. 

Tile was used for the flooring
material throughout the dining areas in multi-colored, multi-sized patterns, with each seating area having its own, well-defined pattern and circulation area. Tile offered the durability needed for this type of facility, as well as the ease of maintenance. 

Porcelain tile with the appeal of concrete and cut stone was used in all seating areas except Olive & Oil, where wood-look tile was used to add warmth to the space. Quarry tile was used for the rest of the venues’ flooring and food production kitchens.

Tile contributed to several of the sustainability goals on the project as well, as many of the tiles were made from recycled materials and green-squared certified.

Kutz said one of the greatest challenges on the project was meeting the tight deadline and coordinating the tile installation around the subcontractors working in the same spaces. Open communications and scheduling among all subcontractors were the key to keeping the project on track, said Kutz. The tile installers worked a minimum of 12 hours a day, and a couple of Saturdays, to complete the project on schedule. 

Trio of contractors shares large-format tile-setting successes


For our Large-Format Tile section this month, we take a look at three individual jobs that utilized large-format tile, and we explore the procedure and materials needed to achieve a quality, high-performance, long-lasting job. All contractors are NTCA Members, and all either are themselves Certified Tile Installers, or employ them in their crews. 


Charles Nolen, Carpet Corner of Indiana

This 1,500-sq.-ft. job by Charles Nolen for Carpet Corner of Indiana utilized 30” x 30” large-format porcelain tile from Atlas Concorde’s Brave line at the Lilly Company in downtown Indianapolis. 

To get a level floor, the three-person crew used a diamond-head grinder to open the pores in the slab, then Nolen – a Certified Tile Installer since 2016 – said they shot it with a 360-degree laser to find the lowest point. They then gridded the floor in 4-ft. sections, and placed a pin at every intersection of chalk lines. Pins were trimmed to the lowest level height measurement, and a special solvent-free, acrylic primer was poured, followed by a self-leveling underlayment to the determined height, assuring a “dead level and perfectly flat floor.” 

The crew – Nolen, along with his son Caleb Nolen and Reece Stepler – used expansion foam around the perimeter of the room, and applied three coats of a topical crack-isolation membrane. Only then were the 30” x 30” tiles installed with a multi-use, polymer-fortified adhesive mortar to “achieve a flawless tile assembly that will stand the test of time,” Nolen said. 

Erin Albrecht, M.Ed., J&R Tile

“We are especially proud” of this design build at Trinity University that features Florida Tile Level 10 HDP-High Definition Porcelain 18” x 36” in Pearl Atrium installed with a 1/8” joint, said Eric Albrecht, M.Ed., of J&R Tile.

The project was a total $8 million renovation. J&R saved the client “loads of money on an epoxy grout spec, and the [originally] speced tile was thicker, smaller and more expensive,” she added.

J&R’s  Adam Arrellano, who holds CTI and Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers credentials, was the working foreman on this project and also was responsible for the layout and design. He centered and balanced the tile with no less than 1/2” the cut per industry standards. Tile was installed with large-format tile adhesive and two-component 100% solids epoxy grout on a 1/8” joint. J&R utilized a lippage tuning system to achieve desired lippage tolerances.

The cinderblock substrate was waterproofed with two coats of liquid-applied waterproof over concrete masonry units (CMU). J&R used deck mud and custom floating for positive drainage to over 20 integrated bonding flanges to achieve point drainage. Florida Tile’s  2” x 2” mosaic hex was also installed on floors, and  extruded aluminum profiles were chosen as an elegant cost-saving solution instead of bullnose and sanitary cove.

Robert Davis, Davis Solutions

Robert Davis, owner of Davis Solutions in Lebanon, Oregon, shared this recent shower project. “It was  a lot of fun to have free rein with design.”

The tile is 14”x 28” ceramic from Love Ceramics. “Big tiles mean perfect prep,” he said. This included lightweight, extruded polystyrene core waterproof board walls that were wet-shimmed with high-performance, rapid-set, rapid-dry mortar with extended open time and build characteristics, which allowed the crew to run screws and sealant after lunch. The curb is built from 2” x 4” x 8” concrete block with the same mortar, and the top has a mortar screed so the topical waterproofing is pitched in.

The pan is a divot float of floor mud waterproofed with rapid waterproofing/crack-isolation liquid membrane and mesh reinforcement.

Tile is set in lightweight, non-sag mortar designed to accommodate large-and-heavy tile, and grouted using specialized cement grout, with silicone caulk at all changes of plane.

Davis noted that all straight cuts were made on a Montolit Masterpiuma 93p3, and edges broken with a diamond hand pad. The L-cuts around the niche and the miters on the curb were made on a wet saw.

Hex scribe layout is full tile at the ceiling. While marking it, Davis checked the distance between points to ensure the pattern wasn’t drifting. Cuts were done with a Metabo grinder and a respirator, edges eased on a variable speed.

“I cut the scribes in full tiles and then ripped them on the cutting board, and you’d better believe I held my breath while I made those scratch cuts,” he said.

Trims were fabricated on a 10” chop saw with a non-ferrous metal cutting blade. Erick Hendricks handled all the trim work, including the niches.“The shelves in the niche are what we’ve taken to calling the ‘miter sandwich’ – three mitered pieces fabbed from one piece of field tile so the grain wraps,” he said.

The right hand niche in the project is in an exterior wall, so Davis hung 2” polystyrene waterproof backer board walls on the sub-siding as a thermal break. 

“The exterior wall precluded framing modification, so that niche’s placement dictated vertical layout,” Davis said. “Also, the tiles above and below the right niche are ripped so there would be no slivers or L-cuts. That focal niche was very important to the client, so we built the entire shower around it.”

The entire installation took Davis and Hendricks five and a half crew days.

“I love setting tile,” Davis said, “and I am truly blessed to have the opportunities tile is offering.”

Polished concrete floor renovation needs self-leveling treatment for large-format porcelain install


MAPEI products minimize impact of flooring installation in Indiana Greek Orthodox church

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church sits on a 20-acre (8,09-hectare) site in Carmel, Ind. It was the first church to be constructed in the Triad Byzantine style since the Hagia Sophia, which was built more than 1,400 years ago. The church design includes a dome with a diameter of 55 feet (16,8 m) that was built and raised up from the ground, bronze doors weighing 600 pounds (272 kg) each at the grand entrance, and the ability to accommodate more than 600 worshippers.

Because the expression of creative beauty within the Greek Orthodox Church’s places of worship is a major tenet of the Church, the members of Holy Trinity decided to have the floors and some vertical spaces dressed in tile and stone. CJK Design Group specified large-format 24” x 24” (61 x 61 cm) and 12” x 24” (30 x 61 cm) porcelain tiles from Daltile’s Diamante, San Michele and Continental Slate series for the narthex, nave and sanctuary.

But when the church was built eight years previously, the floors were finished in polished concrete that produced a nonporous, sealed surface that did not offer the proper finish for the installation. Traditional shot blasting could not be used for surface preparation because of the deleterious effect that it could have on the painted frescoes and delicate icons, which were created with a centuries-old process using egg tempera paints.

Innovative technology produced a solution that circumvented tradition and provided a breathtaking foundation to anchor the beauty that lines the walls and ceilings of the narthex, nave, sanctuary and ambulatory at Holy Trinity.

Preparing the subfloor

Installers from Indianapolis-based Starnet contractor Certified Floorcovering Services (CFS) used MAPEI’s ECO Prim Grip primer to cover the polished concrete surface, eliminating the need to shot blast and potentially damage the church’s painted treasures. Next, the crew tested and used Ultraplan LSC – a MAPEI self-leveling liquid skimcoat – to patch and smooth all floor surfaces, again reducing dust worries. The crew also used Mapelastic CI liquid-rubber membrane for crack isolation in the concrete flooring. During the first three weeks of work, the church still held services in the nave.

Once the floors were prepared, the CFS installation crews worked meticulously to the architects’ plans. The crews transitioned between varied types of porcelain tiles and marble to produce a look that complemented and accented the intricate icons and frescoes. The large-format 24” x 24” (61 x 61 cm) and 12” x 24” (30 x 61 cm) Daltile porcelain tiles for the narthex, nave and sanctuary were set with Ultraflex LFT mortar and then grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA.

In addition to porcelain tiles, red “Rojo Alicante” marble tiles were set as borders and for transitions between the white porcelain tiles. The marble tiles were set with Kerapoxy 410 100%-solids epoxy mortar; these tiles were also grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA. The CFS crews hand-cut many of the Rojo Alicante tiles to fit around existing structures in the church and so that they could tile a number of vertical elevations in the floor.

In the narthex and nave, the crews set four prefabricated mosaic medallions that continued the iconography from the walls to the floor. The crews first used Mapecem Quickpatch concrete patch and Ultraplan Easy self-leveling underlayment to patch and level the substrate beneath the medallions. Then, the crews set the medallions in place with Ultraflex LFT.

The installers also set Daltile Keystone glass mosaic tiles along the inner walls of the baptistery, and they interspersed Glass Horizons mosaic tiles with Crema Marfil marble pillars on the baptistery’s exterior. After waterproofing the baptistery with Mapelastic AquaDefense membrane, installers used Adesilex P10 glass tile mortar to set the mosaics.

Mapesil T sealant was used to fill all expansion joints and soft joints where vertical and horizontal tiled surfaces met.

Innovation and determination bolstered the flooring contractor’s efforts to successfully complete the beautification of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Because CFS was so proud of its work, it entered the project in the Starnet Design Awards; the company won the Silver Award for the 2017 Unique Installation Challenge.