Medical Mosaics

06.08.2011 by Ron Treister

The Guyton Research Facility expansion project, completed in late 2010, is an addition to the Arthur C. Guyton Laboratory Research Building, which is seated on the campus of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, located in Jackson, Miss. The original facility was initially dedicated in 1993 and honors the late Dr. Arthur C. Guyton, an internationally known physiologist who served as the first chair of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and author of the most widely sold medical physiology text in the world today.

The expansion project added 192,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research space to the 80,000 square feet of the original facility. The new addition is characterized by a massive, brightly-lit eight-story atrium lobby which connects both new and existing Guyton Buildings at all levels, encouraging both public and professional interaction. Within the eight-story atrium, some of the most imaginative and cutting-edge use of dissimilar tile material may be witnessed firsthand.

"There is a communicating stairway which starts at the ground floor and goes all the way to the top level of the building's atrium," says Joe Stevens, AIA, LEED-AP of Eley Guild Hardy Architects, the architectural firm that designed the expansion facility. "We used mosaic tile as an accent material in the atrium, and it can be seen from all angles when one is anywhere on the stairway. Prior to selecting it, large format marble tiles were specified throughout the expansive area, making a very strong design statement."

According to Stevens, the atrium space already contained a great deal of glass, stone and terrazzo, and the design team decided that a counterpoint material with color and texture was needed to complement the marble. "To address that purpose, we selected Marazzi's Percosi through-body porcelain mesh-mounted mosaics to be used only on walls adjacent to where the marble was installed," Stevens says. "This was a new product that I didn't think had been used in this region before. It has an interesting size and texture with a delicate appearance and joint pattern."

To add uniqueness and dimension to the tile's installation, the team decided not to grout the joints between each of the tiles—instead, the joints were left open to emphasize the pattern, creating a deep shadow effect not achievable with a grouted joint. And because the tile was an intriguing mosaic created from thin, rectangular strips, it provided a notable horizontal visual effect within the atrium.

"Utilizing these horizontally stacked, thin porcelain tiles with their random, groutless joints offers a look that is both soothing and very dramatic," adds Stevens.

The Guyton Research expansion facility provides a public entry for the Guyton Complex on the north façade. Visitors enter the upper floors by the atrium lobby stairs or via elevators directly adjacent to the entry vestibule. The building envelope, including brick, cast stone and glass is deferential to its context, yet designed to establish a unique image aiding in the competitive recruitment of researchers. It clearly works in harmony connecting the original research facility and the classroom facility buildings.