Distinctive Merchandising In Stone

March 11, 2003
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Known as a city exuding "glitz and glamour" in its architecture, Las Vegas offers visitors and residents many attractions. While the gaming, live entertainment and elaborate designs of the casinos draw an abundance of people, the Fashion Show Mall also is a popular destination. And one of the shopping center's most recent additions is the new three-level, 200,000-square-foot building for its anchor tenant, Nordstrom, which features a palette of natural stone in its exterior and interior design.

"We focused on creating an understated, timeless architecture reminiscent of the arrival experience found at a quality resort," said Design Principal John Bierly, AIA, of Callison Architecture, Inc. in Seattle, WA. "From its prominent port cochere entrance and lush landscaping to the distinctive lifestyle merchandising inside, Nordstrom Las Vegas presents a thoroughly inviting experience."

To create the desired ambiance for the high-end department store, a combination of Arizona sandstone and black granite were employed for the exterior. "We chose the sandstone for aesthetics," said Bierly. "It showed the desert color and textures that we were looking for."

The sandstone was quarried about 100 miles outside of Scottsdale, AZ, by Ansazi. The material was supplied and installed by Columbia Stone Inc. of Tualatin, OR. In total, about 11,000 square feet of sandstone was used for the lower portion of exterior walls, planter walls, exterior column cladding, fountain walls and two mall entry facades. The pieces, which have a natural cleft finish, measure 19 1?inches high x random widths up to 36 inches.

"We went to review the sandstone to make sure that it met the color range criteria given by the architect," said Mike Twiss of Columbia Stone Inc. "We didn't go all the way to the quarry because of the weather. [Ansazi] took the slabs out of the quarry and brought them to a pre-fabrication area where they pre-stripped them." From there, the strips were taken to the company's facility in Scottsdale where they were cut to size, according to the installer.

Complementing the rough-textured sandstone are approximately 2,500 square feet of Absolute Black granite pieces, which were used for the base of the building. All of the dimensional stone was installed with clips that attached the material to concrete walls, which are waterproof, said Twiss.

For the outside fountains, a setting bed manufactured by Laticrete International, Inc. of Bethany, CT, was used to adhere the sandstone to the structures.

One of the only challenges that occurred on the job was related to the building's planter wall caps, explained the installer. "Sandstone producers don't have a lot of intricate fabrication capabilities," he said. "There were a whole bunch of planter wall caps that were quarried by Ansazi, but fabricated by New Mexico Travertine Inc. of Belen, NM. Those slabs were 4 inches thick." The crew had to wait for the detailing to be done by the fabricator before they could install the pieces.

Columbia Stone also did the installation work for the two main entrances. In these areas, the use of Arizona sandstone continued on the wall, while about 1,000 square feet of Galaxy Black granite was used for the wainscoting.

According to Twiss, it took approximately four months for the installation of the stonework to be completed by a team of 10 to 12 workers. And because of the experienced installers, the architects did not have to spend much time supervising on the job site. "Once the mock-up was approved, the installation went smoothly," said Bierly.

Inside the store, the elegant design style continues. While the majority of the flooring consists of 16- x 16-inch porcelain tiles, Absolute Black granite inserts and borders were employed as accent pieces. Additionally, Laguna Cream marble from Italy was used as cladding for the columns. In total, an estimated 4,000 square feet of vertical stone was used. The Absolute Black granite and Italian marble as well as the porcelain tile were supplied by Innovative Marble & Tile of Hauppage, NY.

The entire project -- from conception to construction - took a little over a year to complete. Nordstom Las Vegas first opened its doors to the public in November 2002.

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