Stone World

Limestone creates a sophisticated retail setting

March 1, 2005


The Shops at Prudential Center in Boston, MA, recently added the first free-standing Levenger store to its list of 75 retail stores. Levenger sells merchandise for the serious reader, including leather goods, organization and planning books, writing instruments, reading tools, lighting products and office furniture. In order to create a sophisticated atmosphere for its target customers -- college-educated women and men aged 35 to 64 -- architects selected different types of limestone for various elements of the retail store.

Mike Curtis, creative director at JGA, Inc., said that the goal of the 2,811-square-foot project was “to create a warm, engaging environment that showcases the unique products using finishes that complement and contrast the merchandise.” He added that another focus of the project was “to create a sense of implied rooms to help scale product and place” and to “develop a highly flexible setting to allow for ever-changing groupings within the showroom.”

Selecting limestone

According to Curtis, limestone was chosen for its natural feel. “Limestone was a perfect choice,” he said. “The color range, tile size and cost made it the best solution.”

Dwyer Marble & Stone of Farmington Hills, MI, supplied 2,400 square feet of Terra Gris -- a honed Portuguese limestone -- in an offset running bond pattern of 16-x 16-inch tiles for the floor, according to the company's president, Joe Dwyer.

“From an importer/distributor perspective, any time you are working on 'national' projects or specifications with a local architect there can be challenges,” said Dwyer. “The actual specification often times ends up being one of the easier tasks. Making sure that you're aware of building schedules and material requirement dates can become a challenge. Because materials are being imported for the projects, we either need to inventory for upcoming stores or ensure we have sufficient lead-time to meet construction deadlines.”

The architects also chose various cut-to-size slabs of Mankato stone -- due to its texture and color range -- to fit the custom merchandising display fixtures. “[The Mankato] has an architectural beauty compatible with the overall store design,” said Curtis. “Our client sells wood furniture, and we created the merchandising fixtures to be differentiated from the product for sale. The quality of the Mankato stone used on display surfaces reinforces the quality of the Levenger merchandise.”

Mankato-Kasota Stone, Inc. of Mankato, MN, supplied 190 square feet of honed Grey Fleuri limestone stone to use as countertops in a retail setting. The pieces used included the following sizes: 1 x 3, 2 x 2, 2 x 3, 2 x 4 and 4 x 4 feet. According to Mankato-Kasota's Sales Service Manager, Pam Mayfield, 12 of the larger pieces had aprons epoxied onto them to give the stone a thicker appearance. She added that the Levenger store “was a very standard project with straightforward fabrication.”

Installation Process

According to Chris Beliveau of Port Morris Tile & Marble's operation in Boston, MA, the installation of the stonework took a crew of eight workers about 2 1⁄2 weeks to complete. “We were in and out, and things ran pretty smoothly,” said Beliveau. “We had six guys working on the floor, and two guys working on the front facade of the store.” Using Laticrete 220 mortar with 333 acrylic additives, the crew installed a medium mortar bed, which Beliveau said helped facilitate a smooth installation. For the vertical application on Levenger's entrance, the crew used 310 Laticrete epoxy adhesive.

For the exterior facade of the store, facing the entrance to the mall, architects selected Texas Mist limestone in 18-x 18-inch pieces. The stone was manufactured by Stone Tiles International and distributed by Virginia Tile Co. of Farmington Hills, MI.

The project began in April 2004, and lasted a mere three months, as the architects only encountered one setback -- trying to match the flooring of the mall to that of the new store. “There was a unique transition at the storefront, where the finished sales floor was a slightly different height than the mall flooring,” said Curtis. “The craftsmanship of an expert installer overcame this challenge by using the limestone to create a smooth transition between the two floor finishes.”

He added, “We have received positive feedback from the client and his customers about the uniqueness and the beauty of the store, including the stone used.”

End box

The Shops at Prudential Center Levenger store Boston, MA

Architect: JGA, Inc., Southfield, MI
General Contractor: Hirsch Construction, Salem, MA
Stone Installer: Port Morris Tile & Marble Corp., Boston, MA
Stone Supplier: Dwyer Marble & Stone, Farmington Hills, MI (Terra Gris limestone); Mankato-Kasota Stone, Inc., Mankato, MN (Grey Fleuri limestone); Virginia Tile Co., Farmington Hills, MI (Texas Mist limestone)
Stone Manufacturer: Stone Tiles International, Toronto, Canada (Texas Mist limestone)
Installation Products: Laticrete International, Bethany, CT