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Sustainable Custom Design at Children’s Hospital

Patients checking in at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis are handed a passport to discovery. An animal “storyteller” guides young visitors to their destinations through images of grasslands, ocean, desert or tropics built into the terrazzo floor.

“The ability to customize with terrazzo is unparalleled,” said interior designer Jennifer Mango, IIDA, ASID, whose firm, Tsoi/Kobus & Associates in Cambridge, MA, specializes in healthcare facility design. “We were able to create a crisp, complex design.”

Completed in March 2011, the project won a 2013 AIA National Honor Award for Design. Ms. Mango noted that while her number one reason for choosing terrazzo was its design capacities, the choice also contributed significantly to the project’s GGHC/LEED NC certification (Silver Equivalent).

The use of recycled and sustainable materials, added to unbeatable longevity and low maintenance requirements—just damp mopping and a buff and shine once or twice a year—all helped minimize the building’s environmental footprint, she reported. Terrazzo’s anti-microbial properties also help maintain a healthy indoor environment.

“Terrazzo was the best choice for return on investment for its life cycle,” Ms. Mango stated, “especially compared to VCT, which is headed to the landfill and has a much more significant impact.”