A colossal display of stone in Atlantic City

November 1, 2003
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In terms of sheer volume, The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, NJ, has been one of the most significant stone projects in some time -- with over 1 million square feet of stone valued at approximately $23 million. But going beyond the quantities, the project was a study in coordination

and collaboration, as multiple contractors, architects and stone suppliers all had come together to make it a success.

The casino is a $1.1 billion joint venture development of Boyd Gaming Corp. and MGM Mirage. As the first new property to appear in Atlantic City in 13 years, The Borgata was built with 2,002 guest rooms and suites. At 43 stories, it is the largest hotel and tallest building in New Jersey.

The contract for the stonework was a joint venture between Baumgardner Floor Covering, Ltd. (BFC), of Egg Harbor Township, NJ, and Port Morris Tile & Stone of the Bronx, NY. Although the contract was jointly held, BFC was responsible for executing the stonework as well as the ceramic tile, carpeting and wood flooring at the casino. To meet an unyielding project deadline of

July 4, 2003, BFC began importing and warehousing the stone materials well in advance of the actual installation, which began on the guest rooms in April of 2002 and on the public areas in November of 2002.

Public spaces

The Project Architect for The Borgata was Bower Lewis Thrower/Cope Linder Associates, a joint venture, although several different architecture firms were responsible for designs throughout the facility. With 11 dining destinations, two bars, a nightclub, a spa and two performing venues -- a 2,400-seat event center and a 1,000-seat performance theater -- The Borgata offers guests a variety of different looks.

“Every space was different,” said Gaye Montesano of Dougall Design, the head designer for the casino registration area, lobbies, clubs, restaurants and public spaces. Montesano worked along with Terry Dougall and Ruben Vargas from Dougall Design.

At the registration area and lobby, the field tile is comprised of Amarillo Parador marble. These large areas of beige tile are punctuated by large waves of solid mosaics throughout the space. Many of these large mosaic waves were created from Opal Green marble from the Middle East, and they were cut from large slabs to ensure quality. “It's a wild marble. It has lots of veining, spots and colors and a beautiful gold tone going through it,” said Montesano.

Other mosaic waves in the public spaces utilize Cedar and Inca Gold marble, and all of stonework reflects an overall design goal of encouraging guests to freely explore the facility. “[The stonework] pulls you through the casino,” said Montesano. “They're free-flowing, curvilinear designs. The whole casino meanders, and it's not really symmetrical; it's more of a curvilinear design. The patterns pull you through and intersect in the middle of the casino at the 'hub' area, where the cashier, blackjack pits and slot machines are.”

“The mosaics were typically pre-assembled,” explained Bob McArdle, project manager for BFC. “The project has a large amount of large-format patterns, some as long as 90 feet, in which case we made a full-size template of the shape and sent that to the manufacturer. They then made up the pattern full size, put the face tape on it, numbered it and then cut it up into approximately 10-inch sections. They shipped it back to us with a drawing showing the layout.”

A total of 7,000 square feet of mosaics was used, moving through the lobbies and other public spaces throughout the casino, reception and hotel. The custom mosaics were supplied by Vita Nova of Van Nuys, CA, and International Granite & Marble (IGM) of North Bergen, NJ, with other standard mosaic sheets supplied by Stone Connection, Walker Zanger, Sicis, Dal-Tile, and Bisazza.

While each space has its own unique design, the desire to recall a classic European feel was a common thread. “The owner wanted a Mediterranean theme, but with an updated, trendier Milan look,” said Julie Henriksen, senior design at Laurence Lee Associates of Los Angeles, CA, which designed several areas of the project. “The overall feeling was that of a Tuscan village, especially since Borgata means 'little village.' “

One of the most noteworthy custom mosaic designs can be found in the guest area lobby, which is warmly referred to as the “Living Room” by Borgata's management. The flooring of this space, which was designed by Henriksen and the design team at Laurence Lee Associates, features a 23-foot-diameter medallion mosaic that utilizes six different colors of 1/2-inch marble mosaic pieces.

“We wanted to provide a feeling that whoever came into that room found an old floor that was uncovered in old Milan ruins,” Henriksen said. To give this mosaic a random feel, the design uses a broad range of materials, including Giallo Reale, Nero Marquina, Verde Monte, Rosso Vidraco, Rojo Alicante and Azul Macubas.

With six different stones in the pattern, the materials had to be carefully selected to not overwhelm visitors. “We kept the colors very subtle,” Henriksen said. “We didn't want them to be too bright; we wanted them to be much more earthy.”

The mosaic was pre-assembled, and it was installed using thinset mortar. “We worked six men 16 hours a day for four days to install this,” said McArdle. “The difficulty with this area is that the mosaic fits into a circle which is bound by a square, with the square being the same size as the mosaic, and the square being controlled by four columns. If the mosaic grew when it was installed, it would no longer fit into the square, which would be obvious to even the casual observer.”

The elevator lobbies adjacent to the “Reading Room” use simpler patterning, but they vary from lobby to lobby. At one space, marble was used to create a basket-weave pattern. “We wanted something that wasn't as complicated as the medallion -- something very simple,” Henriksen said. This pattern used Giallo Reale and Desert Gold marble pieces to create the feel of an area rug, surrounded by a border of New Saint Laurent Black. “It's reminiscent of some patterns in churches in Italy,” Henriksen said. “The whole [project] was quite exciting.” All of these mosaics were installed as 12- x 12-inch pre-assembled sheets. Other elevator lobbies also use combinations of materials, but with simpler tile patterns.

For the restaurants at The Borgata, each space was given a signature look through the use of natural stone or tile. At Suilan by Susanna Foo, an upscale French-Chinese restaurant, the entry utilizes Connemara Irish Green marble, which is visible from the casino and was supplied by IGM and Antolini Luigi. The casino's Italian eatery, Specchio, was designed with Jerusalem Gold limestone, which was hand chiseled at the wall base. At the VIP area, an elegant, yet relaxed feel was created through the use of Chinese slate supplied by P & L Marble of Farmington, NY. Yet another space, the Box Office, is defined by Carrara White marble, supplied by IGM.

A broad range of stone materials was also used at Spa Toccare, including a combination of Bardiglio, Beech, Absolute Black and Jurassic Gold for the lobby floor pattern, all of which were supplied by IGM. Inside the locker room and pool area, the use of mosaics is revisited, and the floor is a classic pattern of Turkish travertine with black accents.

Guest rooms

The guest rooms at The Borgata follow the same standards of elegance as the casino's public spaces. All 2,002 rooms feature marble and granite in the bathrooms -- from the standard rooms (which go well beyond the typical definition of “standard”) to the sprawling 5,000-square-foot VIP suites. A total of 350,000 square feet of Thassos marble was required for this portion of the project. Standard rooms utilized tile sizes of 12 x 12 and 6 x 6 inches, while the deluxe rooms also use Calacatta F marble in 18- x 18-inch tiles. The Thassos marble was supplied by Walker Zanger of Sylmar, CA, while the Calacatta F marble -- totaling 100,000 square feet -- was supplied by IGM.

According to McArdle, a total of 16,000 square feet of stone tile was used for a typical guest room floor. Two full-size mock-up rooms were constructed in a warehouse near BFC, displaying the stonework of a standard room as well as a luxury accommodation.

In addition to the marble, all of the guest rooms at The Borgata feature granite vanity tops. The vast majority of these countertops are Eucalyptus granite, supplied by Walker Zanger.

To complete the massive amount of work required at The Borgata, BFC benefited from its experience on other large-scale casino projects, including the expansion of Caesars in Atlantic City. According to McArdle, who praised the cooperation of the union in supplying manpower, the company had over 170 men working at The Borgata during busy periods. The project required over 250,000 manhours just on the tile work, including 40,000 manhours over the final six weeks of construction. The company used a variety of installation products, depending on the application, including Kerabond and Keralastic from Mapei as well as products from Laticrete, Dap, C-Cure and Custom Building Products.

Now that it is complete, The Borgata has been roundly received as a tremendous success by patrons as well as casino management. As CEO Bob Boughner said: “Borgata's unique brand of hospitality exudes from every detail, all conceived with the guest's ultimate travel experience in mind.”

End box:
The Borgata, Atlantic City, NJ

Owner: Boyd Gaming Corp. and MGM Mirage

Architects: Bower Lewis Thrower/Cope Linder Associates (Joint Venture); Dougall Design, Pasadena, CA; Laurence Lee Associates, Los Angeles, CA; Inter Architects, Las Vegas, NV

General Contractor: Tishman Construction/Yates Construction (Joint Venture)

Stone Contractor: Baumgardner Floor Covering, Ltd. (BFC), Egg Harbor Township, NJ, and Port Morris Tile & Stone, Bronx, NY (Joint Venture)

Stone Suppliers: International Granite & Marble (IGM), North Bergen, NJ; Walker Zanger, Sylmar, CA; P & L Marble, Farmingdale, NY (slate); Antolini Luigi & C., S.p.A., Verona, Italy (Connemara Irish Green Marble)

Custom Mosaic Suppliers: Vita Nova, Van Nuys, CA; International Granite & Marble (IGM), North Bergen, NJ

Standard Mosaic Suppliers: Stone Connection, Walker Zanger, Sicis, Dal-Tile, Bisazza

Installation Products: Mapei, Laticrete, Dap, C-Cure and Custom Building Products

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