2019 Natural Stone Institute Award of Excellence – Frost Tower

Frost Tower is the first downtown skyscraper to be built in San Antonio Texas in nearly 30 years. The 23 story, 460,000 square foot, building broke ground in March of 2017 and opened its doors on July 1, 2019.

The goal was to create an authentic space in the urban core of the city while adding a modern touch to the downtown San Antonio skyline. The architect designed an octagon shaped footprint with each floor stepping in six inches as you go up the tower and, at each corner of the octagon shape, each floor steps out four inches thereby giving the structure a twisting geometric form.

The design team brought the same modern look to the interior of the building by combining glass, stone, stainless steel and strategically placed lighting in the main lobby. Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. (CMS) was responsible for the interior stone work on the walls, floors and the security desk.

The architect’s first choice for the lobby floor and monumental stairs was honed Black Lacy phyllite from Norway, but after installing a 400 square foot mock up, it was determined that the Black Lacy material would be too soft for the lobby floor. CMS was able to offer several alternate stones and the design team settled on Via Lactea honed granite from Brazil. Even though the material is quarried in Brazil, we were able to have the Via Lactea fabricated in China. The architect was also very particular about the amount of veining, the size of the veining and the direction of the veining in the Via Lactea flooring. Of the 2,250 pieces (14,000 square feet) over 200 pieces were culled at the factory in China and another 110 were culled on the jobsite to ensure the floor was within the architect’s specifications.

The monumental stairs were designed to give the appearance that the three-inch thick granite treads and landing were floating between the glass handrails. To accomplish this, each piece of stone had to be routed out one inch on the bottom side to hide the steel support while maintaining the three-inch thickness along the exposed edges.

The vein cut unfilled honed Roman travertine on the walls in the elevator lobbies provides a pleasing contrast to the granite floors. The walls were designed with open 1/8” horizontal joints while one-inch stainless steel channel was placed in all vertical joints. The open joints did not allow the wall panels to be stacked; therefore, each piece had to be independently loaded back to the structure. Another challenge with the travertine walls was the extremely large piece sizes. Some of the panels were seven feet tall and fourteen inches wide. Due to this excessive length, some of the stone pieces were not completely flat upon arrival which created additional installation obstacles.

The biggest challenge as the stone contractor was construction of the polished Fior di Pesco marble security desk. The design is octagon shaped like the building and each side is a parallelogram with a “fold” in the center. At each point of the outside of the octagon, five pieces of stone came together from five different directions. With 1/32” epoxy joints, each stone had to be cut and fit with zero tolerance. The architect added a degree of difficulty by hand selecting consecutive slabs from a single block in Italy and marking where each piece would be cut from. Each side of the octagon was to be end matched and identical to all other sides. With limited material selected there was only one opportunity to get each cut right.

The end result of the overall building design and stellar interior finishes provide an inspiring beginning for an old city with new plans for growth and revitalization.

2019 Associated Builders and Contractors Houston Excellence in Construction ICE Award – Finish Interior

TAMUHotelInt512

The new Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center is located on the Texas A&M University campus, directly across from Kyle Field stadium. The 8-story, 252,000 sq. ft. hotel and conference center officially opened in August 2018. The hotel consists of a two-level podium, containing the conference center and ballroom. The upper six floors of the glass and brick tower house 250 hotel guest rooms/suites. Amenities of the 4-star, full-service hotel and conference center include upscale guest rooms featuring state-of-the-art technology, a full-service restaurant, bars and lounges, a gym, a business center and 35,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space. It also has an outdoor amenity level on the third floor with a swimming pool that prominently features the Texas A&M University logo and a view of Kyle Field.

Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. (CMS) installed over 98,000 sq. ft. of tile on the project. The original list of materials called for a combination of 33 different sizes and finishes. Nine different vendors were utilized in the acquisition of the tile. In addition to the 33 types, sizes and finishes for the tile, nine different colors of grout were chosen. These choices required meticulous procurement coordination and careful material distribution to the proper installation areas. This was critical since this hotel on was a tight completion schedule to open in time for the first Aggie football game.

The main lobby entry consists of Material Stones 06 Natural Porcelain with an additional 7,300 sq. ft. of 24” x 48” Burl White Natural Porcelain throughout the remainder of the lobby. The monumental stair leading from level 1 to level 3 is clad with Panoramic large format porcelain tile veneer on the steps and landings. Behind the Concierge desk, Winter Chop Ledge Stone Dry Stack in various sizes was installed to complement the “Aggie Maroon” wall.

In the back of the house there is a 10,000 sq. ft. kitchen to service the restaurant and bar areas. Stain and slip-resistant Quarry Textures 4” x 8” pavers were installed in this area over a sloped mudbed. In the buffet area of the restaurant, CMS installed Arc Series Matte White 1” x 2” tiles on the backsplash accent walls and a contrasting Cepac Contour Steel Gray 2” x 4” on the accent walls in the exhibition kitchen. The bistro counter wall features Catalyst Hydrogen Mosaic which is an unusual multi-surface hexagon shaped combination of tiles.

The first and second levels of the hotel are serviced by two large sets of public restrooms. The restroom floors are tiled with 900 sq. ft. Boulevard Gracia 12” x 24”. The walls of the restroom stalls have 450 sq. ft. Pulis Vision Tassellato 9” x 36” porcelain tile and the accent walls have 150 sq. ft. Cepac Classic Rounds. The installation of a Schluter metal cove base differentiates these restrooms from what would be found in a typical hotel.

The main function of the second level is the conference center. The pre-function/coffee break area floors for the conference rooms are Burl White Natural Porcelain 24” x 48” pavers and the elevator lobby walls are clad with large format tile.

The 12th Man Bar was completed with a combination of quartz, marble and porcelain tile that created a challenging installation. The finishes consisted of Marble Croix Brown 12” x 12” marble, Bronze Matte 12” x 24” porcelain, and Calacatta & Molten Gray quartz. The thickness of the quartz material is 2 cm compared to 1 cm for the porcelain tile, which meant that 1 cm of the quartz tile would be exposed. In order to provide a refined finish, CMS polished all edges of the quartz tile prior to installation.

The 250 guest rooms on levels 3 thru 8 utilize Dune Blanco porcelain tile. Approximately 32,000 sq. ft. of 12” x 12” and 12” x 24” was used for the room entries and restroom floors. These restrooms are clad with 2,900 sq. ft. of 2” x 2” tile on the shower floors along with 20,200 sq. ft. of 6” x 24” wall tile. As part of the quality control efforts on this project, CMS completed waterproofing tests for each shower prior to installing the finish tile to ensure the showers were water tight.

In addition to the typical rooms there are two suites with upgraded finishes. Each room has a double-sided fireplace clad with 6” x 24” honed White Birch Ledgestone. The master bath in each suite has 300 sq. ft. of Expanse Basalt 24” x 48” floor tile and 360 sq. ft. of White Burl Polished 24” x 48” floor tile with an accent wall featuring 48 sq. ft. of Splitface Silvertron Mini at the vanity back splash. The wall behind the soaking tub is a combination of Expanse Basalt 24” x 48” cut to 8” strips and Splitface Silvertron Mini set on a 45-degree angle, creating a chevron pattern. The shower floor is Chiado Atolia 2” x 2” mosaic. The kitchen/bar area backsplash in each suite is accented with Peperino stained glass tile.

Despite the numerous types of tile and finishes on this fast-paced project, CMS was able to meet the schedule and provide a visually stunning interior to be enjoyed by alumni, current students and their parents or any other traveler visiting the area.

2019 Associated Builders and Contractors Houston Excellence in Construction ICE Award – Finish Exterior

Mid Lane II, now known as The Ivy, is a 17-story, 297-unit residential project constructed in Houston’s River Oaks District. The Ivy is part of a larger 835,000-square-foot mixed-use development on 11.5 acres called Park Place River Oaks. This brick, stone, stucco, concrete and steel building, which was inspired by a London hotel, enhances the [...]

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2019 Associated Builders and Contractors Houston Excellence in Construction Merit Award – Finish Exterior

The new Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center is located on the Texas A&M University Campus, directly across from the Kyle Field football stadium. The 8-story, 252,000 sq. ft. hotel and conference center officially opened in August of 2018. The upscale hotel sits atop a two-level podium housing the conference center, banquet facilities, and 8,300 [...]

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2019 Associated Builders and Contractors Houston Excellence in Construction Merit Award – Finish Interior

Frost Tower is the first downtown skyscraper to be built in San Antonio Texas in nearly 30 years. The 23 story, 460,000 square foot, building broke ground in March of 2017 and opened its doors on July 1, 2019. The goal was to create an authentic space in the urban core of the city while [...]

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2019 Associated Builders and Contractors Houston Excellence in Construction Merit Award – Finish Interior

WMPII512

West Memorial Place Phase II is the second building of a Class A office development situated on twelve acres at one of the preeminent international locations for businesses in Houston. Phase II is a fourteen story 340,000 sq. ft. LEED Platinum office building with an adjacent eight story parking garage. The development contains on site [...]

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