Floored by the durability of slate

August 21, 2001
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The student population at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa has dramatically increased. In 1901, 396 students attended the school. Over the past century, the student body has grown to 18,500. In response to the growth, the university has had to reshape the campus and several of its buildings to accommodate the flourishing numbers. One change made to the campus took place in the busy Ferguson Center, where slate was used in the floor renovation.

As the hub for campus activity, the Ferguson Center is both a very high-trafficked area and an integral part of the university campus. In response to the university's growing desire to upgrade its facilities, architects from the KPS Group Inc. in Birmingham, AL, went to the campus to renovate the area surrounding the Information Desk, the Starbucks Caf¿nd the Food Court located within the Ferguson Center. Jasper Cornett, the project manager and Senior Associate at KPS, explained that the overall design goal of the upgrade was to renovate the existing flooring in the center to make it more functional. Cornett also chose natural stone over porcelain tile and other man-made materials because he wanted the facility to promote a comfortable natural atmosphere. After exploring several slate options, Cornett decided to use Indian Multicolor Slate throughout the facility.

Cornett explained that the "slate had to be a durable, natural material" in order to withstand the steady flow of passers-by. In addition, Cornett wanted a product that had a rich appearance. He noted that the "variegation of color in the slate" is what primarily attracted him to the material. The existing flooring, which was a mix of terrazzo and carpet, was removed, and the new slate was installed. Cornett reports that roughly 10,000 square feet of the slate was employed as 12- x 12-inch tiles in the interior of the building. Throughout installation, the center was occupied by students, which attributed to some "minor complications," Cornett said. However, the project ran on schedule, and Sparks Stone Glamour sealer was applied to the slate to ensure the longevity of the installation.

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