Stone World

Metallic Tile Brings Urban Feel to Office Design

June 4, 2009
Photos by Larny J Mack Photography
A sleek contemporary design was created with 12- x 24-inch Metal Titanium Natural tile in the new office building for Hunsaker & Associates, a civil engineering firm located in San Diego, CA. Client: Hunsaker & Associates, San Diego, CA; Designer: Designcorp, Solana Beach, CA; Tile Manufacturer: Apavisa, Castellón, Spain; Tile Supplier: SpecCeramics, Inc., Fullerton, CA


Large-format metallic tile set the tone for a fresh hip environment in Hunsaker & Associates’ new office space in San Diego, CA. The civil engineering firm was looking for an open and energetic working atmosphere, and the steel look of the porcelain tile, which was manufactured by Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Apavisa, was an essential component in achieving the desired effect.

“Our client, Hunsaker & Associates, had been in multiple buildings,” said designer Amy Tobia of Designcorp in Solana Beach, CA. “It was disruptive, and they really didn’t have an image. At the start of the project, they identified a building a few blocks from their existing building. They didn’t want to disrupt their employees lives by moving the office too far away.”

The designer went on to explain that the newly obtained building had been sitting vacant for a while. The entire space was gutted, with only several stairwells left standing.

“One of the key goals for the building was that the entry and common space have a very open and energetic impression,” said designer Amy Tobia of Designcorp in Solana Beach, CA.

“One of the key goals for the building was that the entry and common space have a very open and energetic impression,” said Tobia. “The firm is very team oriented. The lobby is the hub of the facility. It is a very important aspect. They wanted it to be functional, but also inspiring.”

Selecting a floor tile

Apavisa’s Metal Titanium Natural tile, which was employed in a 12- x 24-inch format, comprises the flooring throughout the lobby and reception area. The material was supplied by SpecCeramics, Inc. of Fullerton, CA.

“There is a team of very young and enthusiastic engineers,” said Tobia. “They wanted a very open, modern, industrial feeling, but still professional and finished. They felt this tile really had a great look for that. It is contemporary, but it didn’t feel like it would date itself.”<

According to the designer, the firm chose the metallic floor tile because it brought a modern industrial feeling to the office space, while still being professional and finished.

According to Tobia, the lobby stretches more than 8,000 square feet. “The lobby is huge,” she said. “It goes up two stories and connects all four quadrants of the building. It is the hub where everything comes together. We wanted to put the same material throughout the whole connection. The pricing was great. The tile was really good looking, but also an affordable solution.

“These were really important elements,” continued Tobia. “There are a lot of clients coming through and a lot of internal functions.”

In addition to creating an exhilarating and contemporary work environment, Hunsaker & Associates also wanted a space that was easily adaptable to reconfigurations. “They were thinking to the future,” said the designer. “They wanted a flexible facility that allowed them to grow or contract. They wanted a good home for multiple groups.”

Additional uses of tile

Another area where tile was incorporated into the design was in the office’s three sets of restrooms and a locker room with showers. “There’s a volleyball court in the back of the building,” said Tobia. “They wanted options for the employees to be able to shower. They wanted the restrooms to feel as warm and professional as the rest of the facility.”

The field of the floors in the restrooms is formed with 12- x 24-inch Stonehenge Savanna Natural porcelain tile, also supplied by SpecCeramics, Inc. “That was our tile throughout and up the walls,” said Tobia.

In the restrooms of the office building, an “area rug” was formed in front of the vanities with a field of 12- x 12-inch pieces of Jura Gray limestone. The limestone is accented by 12- x 12-inch Sadlerstone’s classic Smooth concrete tiles in shades of Olive, Fossil, Pewter and Pearl. Stone Supplier: Emser Tile, Los Angeles, CA; Tile Manufacturer: Sadlerstone

Further contributing to the floor design in the restrooms is an inset of limestone and cement tiles. “We basically dropped a bit of an ‘area rug’ in front of the vanities,” said the designer. “There is some limestone and some colored concrete inserts. We thought it created a modern design.”

The majority of the “area rug” consists of 12- x 12-inch pieces of Jura Gray limestone, which was supplied by Emser Tile in Los Angeles, CA. Adding contrast to the limestone field are 12- x 12-inch accent pieces of Sadlerstone’s classic Smooth concrete tile in shades of Olive, Fossil, Pewter and Pearl.

For the vanities, recycled granite was used. “They really have a lot of longevity,” said Tobia. “It’s our way of balancing cost. We use the more expensive materials in limited amounts.”

According to Tobia, the client was very involved in the design process. “There was a leadership team that was very focused on creating an office space that their employees would love, but also support the company’s goals of flexibility,” she said. “The team approved all materials, and they wouldn’t approve something unless everyone was in agreement. They were really a great client. I was impressed with their forward thinking.”

Work on the design of Hunsaker & Associates’ new office building began in the spring of 2006, and construction began that fall. The firm moved into the building in the beginning of 2007. “It went pretty fast,” said Tobia. “The employee feedback has been very positive. They have since reorganized to address changing needs and the space supported the changes easily.”