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

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 dining, easy access to I-10 and is adjacent to Terry Hershey Park which connects to over 50 miles of hike and bike trails. It is truly an environment where tenants can work and play.

Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. (CMS) was responsible for the original stone scope which included shop drawings and the supply and installation of the interior wall cladding and lobby paving. The project was completed in May 2017 and three months later took on 22 inches of water as a result of Hurricane Harvey. The newly installed marble would require a complete replacement. CMS removed and stored the existing Blue de Savoie interior wall cladding and removed and disposed of the Super White Carrara C paving. Although the wall cladding had been salvaged, it was decided early on that new marble would be needed for the walls.

The lobby materials are compiled of 1,730 sq. ft. of 2 cm polished Blue de Savoie marble interior wall cladding, 755 sq. ft. of 2 cm polished Crystal White marble interior wall cladding, 7,500 sq. ft. of 2 cm honed Crystal White marble interior paving and 250 sq. ft. of 1 cm honed Crystal White marble tile paving for the elevator cabs. The procurement of the required replacement material began immediately, with material available for range approval in just two months. The intent was to maintain the original design criteria and adhere to the established range as much as possible.

The architect and owner initially chose a unique combination of materials for this project. They selected Super White Carrara C marble with a consistent white background and a borderline exotic material, Blue de Savoie marble, with a highly variegated blue-gray pattern. The tight range required by the owner and architect made the acquisition process for both materials extremely challenging; especially when considering the time limits due to the need to reopen the building as soon as possible. The November 2017 range review in Italy for the Blue de Savoie marble and the Super White Carrara C marble was critical to ensure that the initial approved range was achieved.

In addition to the difficulty experienced with the Blue de Savoie’s wide range of color and veining characteristics, the small French quarry offered limited availability and was closed for the 2017 season. This, coupled with the continued high demand for this material made the acquisition process even more precarious. However, the Blue de Savoie marble range slabs provided the exact look that the architect desired for the interior wall cladding; and was a close match to the range approved for the initial installation. As such, CMS expended considerable time and effort to control the acquisition process and adhere to the tight range approved for this material.

Another challenging factor in the stone supply component of this job is the current worldwide demand for all white marbles which has reduced the availability of material that was once easily obtainable; as such, it was determined that the Super White Carrara C was not going to be available within the range required and in the timeframe needed. After consideration of several alternate materials, the owner and architect decided to use Crystal White marble.

Even after the successful selection and approval of these materials, there were several members of the construction team that had concerns regarding the tight range of the material, quality control of the range and the fabrication time needed, in that the holiday season was quickly approaching. The majority of the material was procured prior to the holiday shutdown; with the aggressive schedule for fabrication to begin immediately upon returning in the new year following the holiday break. The Blue de Savoie wall cladding arrived on schedule in early April, followed by the first Crystal White deliveries in early May. Just as with the initial installation, the replacement material had the same striking appearance. The main lobby wall of the Blue de Savoie is every bit as impressive as the first installation; the alternate paving material, Crystal White, turned out to be an excellent selection to complement the feature wall and focal point of the lobby. The 2 cm polished Blue de Savoie marble main lobby wall and west elevator bank wall provide a stunning contrast to the east elevator bank wall which is clad in 2 cm polished Crystal White marble.

The project renovation maintained the clean and uncomplicated design of the building. While the material procurement and quality control were difficult; the end result proves the goals in rebuilding this lobby were successful. Ultimately, the materials were appropriately controlled, expertly and safely installed on schedule. Nine months after the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, this building is once again ready to serve the Energy Corridor as a highly efficient state-of-the-art facility.

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