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Ceramics of Italy Announces 2013 Tile Competition Winners

Nine projects in three categories recognized in honor of 20th anniversary.


Nine projects in three categories recognized in honor of 20th anniversary.

This year, the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition, an annual awards program sponsored by Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) and the Italian Trade Commission, attracted the most competitive pool of projects in the contest’s history. The submissions from prominent North American architects and designers in the Residential, Institutional, and Commercial categories were impressive both in their architectonic qualities and creative use of Italian ceramic tile. On the occasion of the competition’s 20th anniversary as well as the Anno della Cultura Italiana (“Year of Italian Culture”), the international jury decided to recognize more projects this year, honoring them with a special anniversary award. The Commercial category showed particular strength in the innovative and extensive use of tile, prompting the jury to select a grand prize winner as well as special mentions in Retail, Hospitality and Corporate categories. The winning projects speak to the A&D community’s commitment to using a material that is technically advanced, aesthetically pleasing, and manufactured with a focus on sustainability.

The recipients of this prestigious prize were officially announced on Tues.April 30, 2013 during the Ceramics of Italy International Press Conference at Coverings, held for the first time at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Each of the winning architects and designers were awarded $4,000 and a five-day trip to Bologna, Italy to attend Cersaie 2013—the premier international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings—in the fall. Ceramics of Italy also awarded $1,000 to be shared by the contractors and distributors involved in each winning project, who are key in bringing great design to fruition.

Firm: MRSA Architects & Planners
Project: Schaefer/Graf Residence
Location: Evanston, Illinois
Tile Manufacturers: Cerim, Floor Gres, and Lea Ceramiche
Contractor: Kraftex Floor Corporation
Distributors: Stone Source and Virginia Tile

Over a century old, the brick loft that began as a stable in the late 1890s—and ended up as an automotive shop that was abandoned in the late 1990s—was purchased by architect Mark Schaefer and fiancé Patti Graf in 2005. The couple spent the next five years rehabilitating the building. For the over 3,800-square-foot adaptive reuse project, the couple chose to pursue a modern, minimal Italian aesthetic that referenced fast cars and sleek motorcycles throughout. The three levels of living space are covered with neutral floor tiles from Cerim and Floor Gres that blend beautifully with both the old and the new. The muted color palette of the home is punctuated with colorful baths on the third floor featuring tiles from Lea Ceramiche. 

Firm: DEN Architecture
Project: Bilezikjian Residence
Location: Miami Beach, Florida
Tile Manufacturers: Brix, Imola Ceramica, and La Faenza
Distributors: Ceramica Esparza, Five Star Surfaces, and Imola Tile

For this remodeling project, DEN Architecture demolished and rebuilt every surface with a modern, minimalist approach. An AIA award-winning project, the oceanfront apartment draws inspiration from its surroundings with its choice of porcelain tiles: in every space, an effort was made to replicate the colors, textures, and patterns of the Atlantic ocean’s blue waters and surrounding beaches. Wall and floor tiles from Imola Ceramica in white, blue, and aquamarine are used in a staggered pattern in the guest bathroom, recalling Miami Beach’s pristine environment. Meanwhile, porcelain wall tiles with an irregular cracked pattern from Brix’s “DRY” series were specified for the backsplash in the master bathroom, which references the texture left on sand when the tide recedes. Neutral wood-look porcelain floor tiles from LaFaenza are used throughout the apartment,

Firm: Anna Marie Fanelli
Project: Alpine Estate
Location: Alpine, New Jersey
Tile Manufacturers: Casa Dolce Casa, Ceramiche Sadon, Imola Ceramica, Sant’Agostino, Unicom Starker
Contractor: Mancera Tile
Distributor: Floor and Décor

Anna Marie Fanelli, co-owner and designer at Floor & Décor, made Italian tile the aesthetic focus of the $30 million Alpine estate. Selecting Italian tiles for their ability to combine technological advancement, elegance, and functionality—as well as their eco-friendly and maintenance-free characteristics—Fanelli designed tile couture spaces in the family room, kitchen, solarium, and all of the bathrooms on the property. Collections from Casa Dolce Casa, Ceramica Imola, Ceramiche Sadon, Sant’Agostino, and Unicom Starker that mimic natural materials like marble add unprecedented refinement and luxury to the estate. The design is the epitome of elegance and material couture.  

Firm: HDR Architecture
Project: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Tile Manufacturer: Ceramiche Caesar
Contractor: Select Interiors
Distributor: RBC Tile & Stone

The design of the massive central spine of the Precision Measurement Laboratory on NIST’s Colorado campus called for a modern, high-end look with a strong, grounded quality. In addition, the client required the new space to complement existing design elements. The spine—about two football fields long—serves as the main thoroughfare through which all the laboratories and faculty offices are accessed. HDR Architecture specified Italian tile for the project because its durability could withstand the extreme seasonal changes of the Colorado climate. An entire range of tiles from Ceramiche Caesar’s “Feel” collection met all of the functional and aesthetic requirements of the project: high design and high performance. The project perfectly exemplifies the firm’s philosophy of combining passion for scale, finish, and balance with function, fit, and harmony. The project achieved LEED Gold certification.

Firm: Jain Malkin
Project: Indu and Raj Soin Medical Center
Location: Beavercreek, Ohio
Tile Manufacturer: Ceramiche Caesar
Contractor: Danis Building Construction Company
Distributor: SpecCeramics

The massive 259,000-square-foot Indu and Raj Soin Medical Center—named after the philanthropists who donated a generous sum of money towards the project—has the feel of a hotel, creating a comfortable, positive environment for patients and their families. Jain Malkin, who specializes in healthcare design, specified 68,000 square feet of large-format Ceramiche Caesar porcelain tiles for the centerpiece of the Mills-Morgan Medical Campus. High performance tiles from the company’s “Feel” and “More” collections were used in areas ranging from public restrooms to patient bathrooms in addition to the walls and floors of the expansive lobby and corridor areas. The result is a fresh, clean, and nature-inspired interior that is serene and soothing.

Firm: SHoP Architects
Project: Barclays Center
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Tile Manufacturer: Sant’Agostino
Contractor: Port Morris Tile & Marble Corporation
Distributor: Nemo Tile

The design of the 675,000-square-foot arena by ShoP Architects achieves a striking balance between iconic form and performance. Integrated into one of the busiest urban intersections in the New York metropolitan area, the Barclays Center sustains a healthy, interactive dialogue with the surrounding streets and neighborhood. The main concourse and atrium, accessible from the arena’s large entrance plaza, feature walls tiled with Sant'Agostino’s “Natural Trend” collection—rich but muted basalt-look tiles that add edginess to the design and complement the rugged exterior of weathered steel. On event days, these spaces are filled with lively audiences waiting to enter the arena, buying tickets, or dining in one of the 14 restaurants located off the concourse.

Firm: Sergio Mannino Studio
Project: Hirshleifer’s Shoe Salon
Location: Manhasset, New York
Tile Manufacturer: Impronta Ceramiche
Contractor: Impronta Italgraniti
Distributor: Gianni Ruberti

Avoiding the look of a typical shoe store, Sergio Mannino Studio used the Hirshleifer’s Shoe Salon to create an homage to the world of Italian and American art and design. The space is a dialogue between stark minimalism and the sensual and decadent world of radical design—contrasting reds and whites dominating the color scheme—mediated by the simple and clean canvas of glazed porcelain floor tiles from Impronta Ceramiche’s “Esko” collection. Hints of Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Gio Ponti, and Lucio Fontana are incorporated seamlessly into the space, creating surprising moments throughout.

Firm: KNA Design
Project: Hotel Wilshire
Location: Los Angeles, California
Tile Manufacturer: Impronta Ceramiche
Contractor: RD Olson
Distributor: Stone Source

Through KNA Design’s sleek, contemporary vision, this adaptive reuse project converted an old medical building into one of Los Angeles’ premier hotels. It is equal parts hidden escape and city vibe, with a rooftop pool and lounge space that offers unforgettable views of the city. All of the public spaces, from the glass-walled lobby to the penthouse terrace and rooftop bar are tiled with “Sand” from Impronta Ceramiche, bringing a little bit of the beach inland with their textured, granular aesthetic. Not settling for looks alone, the tiles were also chosen for their sustainable attributes, containing 45 percent pre- and post-consumer recycled content. 

Firm: RMW Architecture and Interiors
Project: Juniper Networks HQ
Location: Sunnyvale, California
Tile Manufacturer: Ceramiche Caesar
Contractor: Walters & Wolf
Distributor: SpecCeramics

A feat to be marveled in terms of scope and construction, the first two buildings of Juniper Networks’ proposed 2.5 million-square-foot campus are completely clad in large-format porcelain tiles. After extensive research, RMW found Ceramiche Caesar’s “E-Motions” and “More” collections to be perfect for designing a building skin that was different—the exteriors stand out yet aesthetically connect the campus as it grows. Approximately 21,000 square feet of tile was installed on each building using prefabricated, lightweight concrete panels developed by Walters and Wolf. The tiles are manufactured using eco-friendly processes and create a high quality exterior that is durable, long-lasting, and low maintenance. Buildings A and B are both on track to receive LEED Gold Certification.