A stone haven within a busy environment

January 17, 2002
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Because the Paricema White granite consists of a lot of movement ranging from white to a darker gray, the tiles were sorted on the job site.


For the floor in the lobby and main circulation area of the new Northwest Airlines WorldClub at Concourse C in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport in Minnesota, approximately 2,000 square feet of polished Paricema White granite from South America was employed in 12- x 12-inch tiles. The material was complemented by a border of Black Galaxy Gold granite from India.
In designing a new style of hospitality club for its passengers, Northwest Airlines desired a more home-like environment --one that would serve as a safe haven where travelers can relax or conduct business while waiting for their flights. Recently, one of these "Generation 3" prototypes opened in Concourse C at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport in Minnesota. And to create the desired effect for the WorldClub, several varieties of natural stone were employed in the design.

"We wanted to warm up and give residential character [to the area]," said Design Principal Dennis LaFrance, AIA, of Architectural Alliance in Minneapolis, MN. The airport itself is full of high energy and crowds of people as well as being high-tech looking. "We wanted a real contrast to that," said LaFrance. "We wanted more of an area of refuge, so the scale and materials are more residential, and the color palette focuses on warmer colors."

Continuing, the designer explained that Northwest had a definite concept in mind. "The original club that they call the ?Generation 2 Club? is a much more open plan --the food service is more cafeteria style. It?s a much more casual atmosphere. [Northwest] wanted much more intimate spaces. They were particularly interested in developing a place where business travelers can work. They wanted it to be a more upscale quality and really be a classy atmosphere."

The design objective for the new hospitality club was to evoke a residential feel were travelers could relax while waiting for their flights.

Designing the club

The new WorldClub at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport is an 10,800-square-foot, L-shaped space. From the beginning, it was decided that natural stone would be incorporated into the design. "We wanted to use stone both on the floor and vertical surfaces and also in areas where the members came in contact with horizontal surfaces," said LaFrance. "We decided up front that the reception desk, check-in areas and countertops would be a granite material."

For the floor in the lobby and main circulation area, approximately 2,000 square feet of polished Paricema White granite from South America was employed in 12- x 12-inch tiles. The material, which had a lot of movement, ranging in color from white to a darker gray, was sorted at the job site. "Northwest requested that we give them an idea of what the finished product would look like," said Guido Gliori of Grazzini Brothers & Co. in Eagan, MN, the fabricator and installer for the project. "We placed all the materials on the floor and allowed Northwest Airlines to inspect and improve the tile layout." The process took a couple of days, according to Gliori.

To accent the floor tiles, about 150 square feet of Black Galaxy Gold granite from India was used for borders. Additionally, approximately 200 square feet of Tan Brown granite from India was implemented in the design. The material was used for the floor area in front of the coffee bar.

Black Galaxy Gold granite was also used for some of the countertops. Additional horizontal surfaces were made of Black Andes granite. In total, approximately 2,000 square feet of the material was used. All of the granite was supplied by Midwest Tile Marble & Granite of Eagan, MN.

Complementing the granite is ungauged English Multi-color slate, which was employed in 16- x 24-inch tiles for many vertical surfaces, including two fireplace surrounds. "We picked [the stones] through a series of conversations with the owner," said Project Architect Jay Fasteen, AIA, of Architectural Alliance. "The colors are very pleasing and were readily available."

Overall, the project took about five months to complete --opening last fall. The stone installation was completed in about three months, with a crew of seven to nine workers on the job. One of the more challenging aspects of any project is working with and around other trades, according to Gliori. "Northwest was anxious to open and get the club in service," he said. "There was a lot of coordination that had to be done [among the trades.]"

Northwest Airlines has plans of opening other WorldClubs around the country and overseas. Architectural Alliance is working with the airline on the designs of four clubs in Detroit as well as preliminary plans for one in Japan.

Credit Box

Northwest Airlines WorldClub

Concourse C

Minneapolis/St. Paul

International Airport, MN Architect: Architectural Alliance,

Minneapolis, MN

Stone Suppliers: Midwest Tile Marble &

Granite, Eagan, MN (granite); Tile

by Design, Minneapolis, MN (slate)

Stone Fabricator/Installer: Grazzini

Brothers & Co., Eagan, MN

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