Historic terrazzo restored; joined by new
“You hear about the skills of old master craftsmen, but in many ways, today’s craftsmen are actually held to higher standards,” said John Blakley, terrazzo contractor on the transformation of the 100-year-old St. Vincent’s Hospital as the new student center of Indianapolis’ Ivy Tech Community College.
This year’s terrazzo Job of the Year is one of the largest and most intricate terrazzo designs in the Texas Tech University system’s public art collection, which ranks as one of the top 10 campus public art collections in the nation.
“Where do I have to put strips in my terrazzo layout?” is the top question of many that Gary French fields as part of his job as the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association’s technical director. “Designers and architects never want strips in their floor,” he reported. “But generally we have to compromise.”
“Nobody likes to see a crack in the floor,” Dan Stanton, president of NTMA member company Colorado Design Tile & Terrazzo in Denver. While cracks are largely preventable through honoring the joint in the concrete with a divider strip, they can’t always be avoided, he explained. “We don’t see it too often but when we do it feels like the end of the world.”
Terrazzo is a veneer system applied to a concrete substrate, and as the concrete goes, so goes the terrazzo. A crack-suppression membrane over the slab is standard in terrazzo installation to inhibit any cracking in the substrate from telegraphing into the terrazzo.