Reflecting the cosmos in granite

The intention of the new Polaris Fashion Place in Columbus, OH -- named for the North Star -- was set to be primarily for the upscale retail shopper. The architecture firm of KA, Inc. Architecture in Cleveland, OH, was commissioned to design the interior as a luxuriant space. "We wanted it to be imitative of being in an exclusive country club or hotel," said Darrell Pattison, AIA of KA, Inc.

In order to achieve that effect, upscale design elements such as polished granite, porcelain tile, wood, carpet, leather chairs and wooden coffee tables were chosen for the mall, which houses 150 stores over 1.5 million square feet of space. Skylights and wall coverings were also used to promote the high-end theme, while creating a comfortable shopping experience.

To depict the Polaris star, an important feature to the mall, the architects chose a variety of natural stone, which was custom cut for the project. "The biggest challenge was bringing natural stone to meet other materials," said Pattison. "We wanted a smooth transition between floors. We would only select materials we could control.

"Different granites were chosen because they fit the color palette we were looking for and we liked the overall texture. The granite is also a harder material, so there isn't much of an issue with it for floor traffic."

Two medallions were placed downstairs and one upstairs, contrasting the porcelain field tile. "We used the different stones to form circular patterns, with stars in the middle," said Pattison. "The floor has very large fields of the patterns."

The granites used for the medallions included Serrio Montrosa, Autumn Brown, Yellow Veneziano and Verde Ubatuba, supplied by Hamilton Parker of Columbus, OH. The floor pattern required that the supplier provide a range of tile sizes. "We supplied both 12- x 12-inch and 12- x 24-inch tiles of each, for a total of 16,300 square feet of material," said Dave Sammons of Hamilton Parker. "We were able to get all the material on site in time though, because we had plenty of notice before the installers were set to put it down."

Once the stone was supplied, the installers of Profast Commercial Flooring in Ijamsville, MD, installed the stone over about 45 days. "We used thinset to install the material," said Kevin Killian of Profast. "The setting materials we used were from Custom Building Products, including the latex modified thinset and grout."

Though the supplier was given plenty of time to get the stone to the site, once it was there, the installers had to work quickly. "It was a fast-track project, so we worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week with three tile mechanics and three tile helpers," said Killian. "It was a lot of overtime."

Once the project was finished, the mall has been a success. "Everyone has been very impressed," said Pattison.

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