NTCA Five Star Contractor installs tile; no demolition of existing floor needed
Originally constructed in the late ’70s, the Plaza of the Americas was conceived as a large mixed-use development of office, retail, hotel and conference space contained in two high-rise towers – one of the largest developments in the city of Dallas – all connected by a vast 64,000-sq.-ft. indoor atrium, which, for many years, contained an underused ice skating rink and a variety of retail shops. The goal of the adaptive reuse project was to create an urban plaza or park that gave the development new life and increase use of the development during the day and after 5:00 p.m.
Through a fruitful collaboration between Corgan Associates, the landscape architect – the Office of James Burnett – and the owners of the property, the atrium was transformed into a climate-controlled, tiered indoor park that offers increased retail and restaurant opportunities.
Working with the existing retail, dining and hotel spaces presented a challenge: they had to remain open and accessible. Cotto d’Este’s ultra-thin large porcelain Kerlite tiles were able to be installed directly over the existing flooring, which meant that the renovation could be completed without costly, messy, time-intensive demolition. The 16” x 40” tiles in the Buxy series created a warm, modern feeling in Caramel and Amande colors. The 3.5 mm thick tiles helped to create an inviting space.
100% coverage is the key
If you’ve been reading TileLetter, you’ll know that recently leading industry associations issued a position statement about using thin tile 5.5mm and larger on floors. But when this project began, it was about three years ago, well before this statement came out.
Kemna Tile, a NTCA Five Star Contractor from Dallas, was called upon to install the Kerlite tile. Ongoing meetings with the facility owner and Barry Kemna, owner of Kemna Tile, educated the owner as to the potential risks of working with large thin porcelain tile in this project, especially considering the level of foot traffic from the office buildings and the hotel as well as from neighboring buildings where people accessed the food court at lunchtime via skybridges. Kemna suggested a seamless product, but the reality of needing to navigate around the busy Marriott hotel traffic in the evening and office building foot traffic during the day made the possibility of a terrazzo floor unfeasible.
“The owner knew it was risky, but we had no other choices,” Kemna said. Initially 40” x 40” tile was specified, but Kemna insisted on cutting it to 20” x 40” pieces instead. “That way we could still pick it up and verify 100% coverage as well as edge coverage,” he said. In addition, the owner set some limits on the kind of wheeled traffic that is allowed to protect the space – rubber-tired vehicles only.
Kemna had a favorable experience working with the Kerlite tile. “It’s easy to work with and flexible. If it is installed correctly, it holds up well.” Kemna used thin-set mortar to skimcoat first with the flat side of the trowel and let it set up a few days or weeks, and then tile off sections of the project. On the second level where the floor ramped up to the retail spaces, Kemna used a self-leveling underlayment.
The biggest challenge Kemna has found is that “there is a tile or two broken in every box, so there is a lot of waste. You really have to order more than you need. The manufacturers will need to make arrangements to account for that.”
The architects did a lot to make this a sustainable project. The barren and underutilized ice skating rink was transformed into an indoor garden through the use of vegetation, wood decking, new tile, water features and low-voltage lighting. The demolition of the existing concrete slab beneath the ice rink created large amounts of crushed concrete that were re-used as subgrade for the new flooring. Several tons of concrete were diverted from the landfill and were kept there on site as part of the new construction. Low VOC paints and adhesives were specified throughout the entire project.
This project was the Commercial winner in the Italy Tile Competition, sponsored by Confindustria Ceramica, the Italian Association of Ceramics and the Italian Trade Commission and open to architects and designers in North America. Residential, Commercial and Institutional winners were selected by an international jury of design professionals and winners were announced at Coverings in Las Vegas in April 2014. They were awarded a $4,000 purse plus a trip to Bologna, Italy, this month from September 22-26 to take part in the Cersaie exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings.
Each winning project was recognized for its outstanding use of Italian ceramic tile, quality of installation, and overall design excellence. Sustainable attributes were also considered along with the impact that the tile makes on the overall space and installation. Contractors and distributor partners in each project were also celebrated.
Project: Plaza of the Americas
Architect: Corgan Associates
Landscape Architect: The Office of James Burnett
Location: Dallas, Texas
Tile Manufacturer: Cotto d’Este
Contractor: Kemna Tile
Distributor: Horizon Tile