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What is Palladiana? An elevated aesthetic in terrazzo

“Palladiana has a warm, authentic, uniquely crafted appeal,” said architect Paul Manno of Gensler in Dallas. Hand-laid and hand-finished, it offers such a radically different aesthetic that it’s often not recognized as terrazzo, he noted.

Terrazzo can be customized to evoke a range of aesthetics by merely varying the size of aggregate. The finest micro-aggregates through standard sizes of 0-2 (1/8 to 3/8 inch) create a minimal, monochromatic look. Aggregates larger than standard create more contrast in what is known as Venetian terrazzo. Higher contrast yet is created using irregularly shaped, randomly set, paver-like stone slabs embedded in cement or epoxy, in place of aggregates, known as Palladiana terrazzo.

Gensler was a product design consultant for several Palladiana installations, notably two high-end law firms, in collaboration with Anthony Iorio of NTMA member contractor Sigma Marble, Tile & Terrazzo Company (Sigma) in Dallas. Manno recommends Palladiana for such installations to elevate terrazzo from the more streamlined look generally found in larger installations such as in airports, convention centers, or educational projects. He also specifies it for a change of scale in reception and lobby spaces or break rooms. He likes that it’s neither directional nor patterned.

“Palladiana has been very successful; people love it,” Mr. Manno reported, adding that at his firm they are “big terrazzo fans.” He specifies it on about 75 percent of his projects. Like all terrazzo, Palladiana is “durable, clean, and has no grout issues,” he noted.

Modern Palladiana, named for 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio, evolved from the opus incertum construction technique of Ancient Rome, which set uncut stones in cement. Today’s Palladiana flooring is still built directly into the floor on-site and like opus incertum, lends itself to using recycled materials. Mr. Manno recounted that they got crates of leftover scraps and drops, broken and odd sizes, to create one installation. “It’s a unique way to reuse unusable scraps to create a beautiful floor,” he said.

Mr. Iorio, general manager and VP of operations at Sigma, reported that they are installing Palladiana right now in an Austin, TX, luxury summer home for an interior designer.

The designer had seen their installation of Palladiana in Dallas, in the high-end Forty Five Ten store, which sells art, and women’s clothing. The installation is reminiscent of the striking look that made design headlines in 2014 with New York’s Fifth Avenue Valentino flagship store designed by David Chipperfield.

Finding out that Sigma had installed the floor, the designer contacted them for her home. They have worked together for about a year now. Sigma has installed a few thousand feet on one level in her home and is about to complete another level.

“My intention is always to exceed expectations, but we never know if it will come off the way they want,” Mr. Iorio said. She called and was crying, saying she had never been so happy to see a floor that was so beautiful. “It makes it all worthwhile.”