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Six projects were announced as the winners of the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition for use of Italian tile in North American architecture and design. Sponsored by Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) and the Italian Trade Agency, the competition received submissions in each of the three categories: residential, commercial, and institutional. An international jury of design industry experts reviewed and evaluated the projects, selecting three winners and three honorable mentions. The jury considered creative and effective use of Italian tile; overall quality of the installation; aesthetic beauty and functionality of the design; and sustainable attributes of the materials used and overall project to determine the winners.

Residential Winner

Ocean View House is the last element in a beachfront residence on New York’s Fire Island that includes a dining pavilion, gym, and beach/pool cabana in addition to a main house. For the guesthouse, the architects were charged with creating an independent space for visitors that would retain a close connection to the main home. The architects used tiles from Emilceramica’s Fashion series to blur the line between the indoor space of the guesthouse and the adjacent outdoor pool area while lending a warm, neutral palette to the 2,000+ square foot space. Italian tile also provided the guesthouse and adjacent patio with a consistent design and level of durability that could withstand moisture and the high traffic resulting from a typical day at the beach.

Residential Honorable Mention

One of California's historic Case Study Houses and the only one built in the San Francisco Bay area, #26 in San Rafael was designed by architect Beverley David Thorne in 1963. After purchasing the house in 2015, Cord Struckmann, the current owner/architect, undertook a remodel that included replacing the floor finishes in the common areas. Previously covered with carpet and vinyl tile, the project required the careful selection of a durable material that could also contribute to the design integrity. This led to the selection of Gigacer’s Concrete line, which matched the mid-century modern aesthetic of the house. The minimalist, large format tiles blend with the structural bones of the house and the modernist décor, unifying the common areas and elevating the role of the floor in the space. 

Commercial Winner

MediaMath’s headquarters occupy two levels within 4 World Trade Center in New York City. In addition to workspaces, the company required lounge areas, a yoga room, a theater, and an art gallery for use by its 500 employees. Ceramiche Refin’s Design Industry collection was used in the most important space in the project, the double height entrance lobby. Providing the first impression to clients, potential employees, and office visitors, it was critical that the floor be elegant but also easy to maintain, with a slab-like appearance that contained minimal joints. The minimalist look and large format of the Design Industry collection met all of these requirements, resulting in a lobby floor that is low maintenance and visually stunning.

Commercial Honorable Mention

At The Ridge, a resort located on Geneva Lake, Wis., a recent, multimillion-dollar renovation led by CallisonRTKL refreshed the property for a new generation of visitors. Central to the successful redesign of the pre-existing resort building was updating the common spaces and restaurant with a modern look that preserved the traditional atmosphere guests expect. For the lobby and communal seating areas, the highly detailed, bleached wood-look tiles of Provenza Ceramiche’s In Essence collection provide a timeworn yet contemporary look that retains the welcoming air of a resort lobby. In Essence offered a far greater resiliency than real wood, which was an essential element for such a high traffic space. In the resort’s lakeside restaurant, another wood-inspired collection, ETIC from Atlas Concorde, brings the sophisticated look of wood planks into the gray-scale palette of the space, while providing the functionality necessary for a restaurant. Contrasting with the interior design scheme, the bold patterns of Ceramiche Refin’s Frame collection forms the floor beneath the restaurant’s bar. The combination of these collections results in stylish, comfortable spaces that foster a soothing resort environment with distinctive interiors. 

Institutional Winner

Located at Columbia University’s new Manhattanville Campus in New York City, the Jerome L. Greene Science Center provides a home for the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. As a neuroscience institute, it was essential that the 450,000 square foot building include wide-open spaces for research activities and collaboration while adhering to specific light, noise, and thermal requirements. As over 60,000 square feet of tile was needed for the space, Renzo Piano Building Workshop chose Casalgrande Padana’s Pietre Etrusche collection (the Unicolore and Basaltina collections were also used) because of its large formats, functionality, and reputation for high quality. Tile that could be delivered in a timely manner from respected distributors and within a specific budget was crucial to the project. Casalgrande Padana ceramic tiles helped to provide a clean, minimalist, and aesthetically unified space for the highly focused research conducted at the center.

Institutional Honorable Mention

Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario engaged Gow Hastings Architects to transform a 1970s Brutalist building into a contemporary centralized hub for student services. Gow Hastings chose the Architecture collection by Casalgrande Padana to provide a sleek tile floor that would complement the contemporary lines of the space and also hold up against the many students and faculty that would be walking through each day. Large format tiles were selected in two distinct tones and arranged in alternating diagonals across the space. The ease of installing the tiles in this pattern allowed the architects to visually expand the space with great ease. Gow Hastings was particularly drawn to the unique colors, texture, and luster of the Architecture collection.

The winning firms each received a prize of $3,000 as well as an all-expenses-paid, CEU-accredited trip to Bologna, Italy to attend Cersaie in Bologna, Italy as part of a VIP delegation of specifiers and journalists. Contractors and distributors involved in each winning project will also be awarded a cash prize for their contribution.

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