Sky-high office building undergoes dramatic front lobby makeover

TileLetter August CoverAt 18 stories high, Atlanta’s 7000 Central Park office tower occupies a prominent position in the city’s central perimeter skyline. 

To reposition the tower as a top-tier office building, former building owner CBRE Global Investors revealed ambitious renovation plans in June 2017 for the 30-year old tower. The plans included a front lobby renovation, a full-service and high-tech fitness center, a collaborative co-working space and conference center, an expanded café area, a meeting space and a trendy outdoor “living room” to provide a gathering space for tenants to socialize.

With architect tvsdesign leading the way on the front lobby design, which included 2,000 sq. ft. (approximately 186 sq. m.) of large-format gauged porcelain panels climbing 30 feet (9 meters) up the walls, general contractor Hitt Contracting Inc. enlisted the help of installing contractor David Allen Company to get the job done. With green and sustainable construction currently an industry wide practice, NTCA Five-Star Contractor David Allen Company chose to utilize products that not only benefit the environment, but are top quality and aesthetically enhanced. 

Close-up of the 5’x10' panels David Allen Company extended 30’ high on the walls.

Close-up of the 5’x10′ panels David Allen Company extended 30’ high on the walls.

“Immediately when we landed 7000 Central Park, we decided to use LATICRETE® products for the installations,” said David Allen Company Project Manager Eric Knight. “We’ve worked with LATICRETE for years and can always rely on their quality of product and high-end customer service. The products we used were instrumental in making sure the large-and-heavy gauged porcelain panels specified for the walls of the lobby would hold up.” 

The challenges 

Defying gravity: Not only did the large-format panels extend 30 feet (9 meters) up the walls, the enormous panels themselves were 5 feet (1.5 meters) by 10 feet (3 meters) in size. To make this installation possible, David Allen Company needed the specified LATICRETE products to deliver superb bond strength. 

Installation interference: During the renovation process, 7000 Central Park remained open for tenants to conduct business, requiring David Allen Company to work during the night. Products used needed to be formulated with fast return-to-service properties to be able to withstand the high traffic of the office building within hours, rather than days, for public use. 

After installing floor tiles, David Allen Company prepped the walls for the large-format gauged panel installation.

After installing floor tiles, David Allen Company prepped the walls for the large-format gauged panel installation.

A LATICRETE solution 

To adhere the large-format gauged porcelain panels to the wall in the front lobby, David Allen Company chose 257 TITANIUM™. Selected for its strong bond and ease of use to work out air pockets, 257 TITANIUM exceeds ANSI A118.15, the industry’s highest performance standard for a cementitious-based adhesive mortar, providing durable, worry-free installations. 257 TITANIUM is also silica sand-free, which both reduces exposure to respirable silica and contributes to the easy-to-spread creamy consistency. For added security to ensure the installation would cure in time, 257 TITANIUM utilizes LATICRETE HYDROMATIC CURE CHEMISTRY™ that accelerates the hydration process to rapidly consume water in the system – allowing the material to cure in a predictable manner and providing peace of mind for David Allen Company. 

The steel stairs used LATAPOXY® 300 Adhesive, a chemical-resistant epoxy adhesive that is easily spread and cleaned with water while fresh, and tenaciously bonds to challenging substrate types. The floors utilized 4-XLT, a multi-use, polymer-fortified adhesive mortar. 4-XLT boasts a smooth and creamy consistency, making tile installation applications of this product faster and easier. 

Prepping the floors in the lobby for installation.

Prepping the floors in the lobby for installation.

Customer-favorite PERMACOLOR® Select was used to grout tiles throughout the lobby. This advanced high-performance cement grout offers the industry’s first dispersible dry pigment solution and offered David Allen Company increased productivity and time savings on the jobsite, thanks to a faster time-to-grout, with foot traffic permitted in as little as three hours.

All of the products used received UL GREENGUARD Gold Certifications for low chemical emissions for sustainable building. Additionally, each of the LATICRETE products used has a Health Product Declaration (HPD), with the exception of LATAPOXY 300, which has Product-Specific (Type III), and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), which help manufacturers create – and helps buyers identify – tile and flooring installation materials’ impact on the environment. 



Architect tvsdesign led the way on the front lobby design, which included 2,000 sq. ft. of large-format gauged porcelain panels.

Architect tvsdesign led the way on the front lobby design, which included 2,000 sq. ft. of large-format gauged porcelain panels.


Close-up of the completed 7000 Central Park office tower lobby installations.

Close-up of the completed lobby installations.

“Just as expected, the LATICRETE products selected for the 7000 Central Park lobby renovation worked like a charm,” added Knight. “Adam Marks, the local LATICRETE representative, was with us every step of the way. At any given time, we were able to meet with Adam onsite, resulting in yet another job well done for both our company and LATICRETE.”

7000 Central Park was recognized as Georgia’s 2018 Outstanding Building of the Year. 


The floors utilized 4-XLT, a multi-use, polymer-fortified adhesive mortar.

The floors utilized 4-XLT, a multi-use, polymer-fortified adhesive mortar. 4-XLT boasts a smooth and creamy consistency, making tile installation applications of this product faster and easier.


Merkrete Systems provide installation protection to new Naples Fire-Rescue Station

Rescue is one of the most important functions of every fire department. From day one in recruit school, firefighters are trained that life safety is the number one priority. It is a job responsibility that requires continual preparation.

It was not too long ago that mentioning rescue in the fire service meant that someone was typically saved from a fire. Today, rescue comes in many forms, which include responding to vehicular crashes, hazardous materials incidents, and a host of other rescue scenarios such as swift-water, ice, confined-space, structural collapse, or any situation that requires removing someone from harm’s way. 

There are some basic premises that apply to all these potential events and some special preparations for the unique challenges that they may present. Time is critical in rescue situations to contain fires, and transport victims of fire and serious injury incidents to appropriate facilities within a specific time-period or potentially face negative outcomes. Whether it’s police officers, firefighters, first responders, or 911 dispatchers, many dedicated Americans work long hours, and often in difficult conditions, to make sure that when someone is in need, they are there to help.

Naples opens new fire-rescue station and emergency ops center

Additional exterior areas installed using Merkrete 855 XXL LHT Mortar.

The Naples Fire-Rescue Department received a massive upgrade last May with the new Fire Station No. 1. The first visible sign began on August 14, 2016 involving the demolition of the old Fire Station No. 1 at 835 Eighth Ave. in Naples, Fla. The razing took about 30 days, clearing the way for a new $6.5 million, two-story, 22,600-sq.-ft. fire station, administrative headquarters and state-of-the-art emergency operations center. 

The new building exceeds FEMA 100-year flood zone levels, has the ability to withstand Category 5 hurricane wind levels and is also the most cost-effective way to get operations and administrative staff all under one roof. This new fire-rescue station will provide critical infrastructure to the city of Naples and will meet the city’s public safety demands for at least 50 years.

Merkrete 855 XXL LHT Mortar used for installing 24 x 24 Coral Stone throughout the exterior.


Developed in collaboration among Manhattan Construction, Creative Stoneworks and Architects Design Group, the new building includes three and a half apparatus bays and associated apparatus support spaces, Battalion Chief office, bunk, and restroom. It also contains general facility functions such as kitchen, dining, report writing, physical agility, dormitories, restrooms, showers, and equipment storage spaces. Fire administration is located on the second floor and includes an Emergency Operations Center and multipurpose room.

Vision and functionality come together

Interior porcelain panels installed with Merkrete’s 855 XXL LHT Mortar.

When Creative Stoneworks was approached by Manhattan Construction to supply the high-performing materials they required, Creative Stoneworks knew they would need a trusted and top-quality installation system to comply with the high-standard building codes and ensure a job well done. Upon reviewing the scope of the project, all answers pointed definitively to Merkrete, the leader in waterproofing, crack isolation and setting materials technology. 

Creative Stonework’s tile installation on the exterior of the new Naples Fire-Rescue Station consisted of approximately 10,000 sq. ft. of 24 x 24 x 1.5 inch Coral Stone. 

A hurricane-proof solution secures the deal

John McIntyre, Technical Sales Representative and Tim O’Hara, Territory Sales Representative from Merkrete submitted a complete installation system including Merkrete Hydro Guard SP-1 waterproofing, crack-isolation and air-barrier membrane, and 855 XXL LHT Mortar, a high-performance setting mortar, providing excellent non-sag characteristics for vertical stone applications in exterior conditions. This sole-sourced Merkrete installation system was submitted and approved by the architectural and design team at Architects Design Group, and the Merkrete team was available as a resource for the project to answer any questions or address concerns relating to the installation system as recommended from Merkrete.

Exterior protected using Merkrete’s Hydro Guard SP1 Waterproofing & Crack Isolation Membrane.

The specifications called for crack-isolation, waterproofing and air-barrier on the exterior parts of installation to meet the new FEMA FIRM map elevations, as well as updated code that required wind and impact-resistant design.

Combined with an aggressive project schedule, work began using Merkrete Hydro Guard SP-1. The liquid-applied, fast-drying Hydro Guard SP-1 combines crack isolation up to 1/8” and a waterproof system to enable crews to prepare the substrate for setting tile at a faster pace. Hydro Guard SP1 contains excellent elongation, adhesion and high-strength properties providing a 100% waterproof membrane that prevents the transfer of substrate cracks to the finished ceramic or stone tile surface. “Merkrete’s liquid membranes have been a staple in the industry for many years and we rely on its performance,” said Eric Gubelman, Creative Stonework General Manager.

There is no doubt that setting these large tile and stones on a vertical surface presents their fair share of installation challenges due to the tight tolerances used to maintain the beauty of the tile and overall aesthetic of the installation. So, selection of the setting material is critical, especially when installing large-and-heavy tile (LHT). LHT Mortars are not for leveling or truing the substrate, instead they are intended to help fill the irregular space between the tile and the underlayment. 

Merkrete proved the perfect match for a specific challenge again, considering the strength of the mortar it called for. “We used large-and-heavy natural stone, which requires a mortar with a super-high bondability that can handle the weight of the panels,” says Gubelman. John McIntrye adds, “Merkrete 855 XXL is a high-performing, multipurpose, polymer-modified setting adhesive for installing extra-large-format porcelain, ceramic tile and natural stone for both floors and walls, and can be used as thin or medium bed setting adhesive for stone. Merkrete proved it could hold its weight allowing Creative Stoneworks the versatility they required.”

Creative Stoneworks’ preferred mortar is MERKRETE’s 855 XXL LHT Mortar for these types of applications. “The smooth and creamy material makes for easy spreading, especially when speed is a factor,” says Gubelman. 855 XXL LHT Mortar works great for both floors and walls and offers high strengths and flexibility.

The Naples Fire-Rescue Department moved into its new home on May 1, 2019.

Broad reach supports responsiveness

It was critical that Creative Stoneworks chose a company who would be able to get the products delivered when required and the job completed on time. Merkrete is a member of ParexGroup, one of the largest companies and a worldwide leader in tile setting materials, façade finishes and technical mortars, established in 22 countries with 68 manufacturing plants and over 4,100 employees. “Merkrete was perfect for this project’s requirements, because we have plants and distribution centers all over the country, so our turnaround time and ability to get products from our Haines City, Fla. location to the job site were no problem,” says O’Hara. 

The Naples Fire-Rescue Department moved into its new home on May 1, 2019 to proudly protect and serve its community. Many thanks to all police officers, firefighters, first responders and military personnel who dedicate their lives to provide comfort and safety to all of us!

The new building exceeds FEMA 100-year flood zone levels, and has the ability to withstand Category 5 hurricane wind levels.