Stone World

Natural stone adapts mall to its environment

November 1, 2004


In early 2003, the South Bay Galleria, a 1 million-square-foot mall located in Redondo Beach, CA, began a $7 million renovation, which included a Mediterranean-style limestone-faced arched exterior entry and granite tile flooring in a “wave” pattern inside the facility. All materials implemented in the design were intended to reflect the beach community in which the mall is located.

According to Kevin Horn, a principal at RTKL Associates, Inc. of Los Angeles, CA, the goal of the renovation was to update and brighten up the mall. “We wanted to infuse it with story and character,” said Horn. “Since it's near the ocean, we wanted to bring in wave forms and nod to the location without being too literal.”

Jerusalem Gold Light limestone was used at the signature entrance of the mall, and was also used on vertical surfaces for cladding at the elevator towers and the bases of some graphic elements. The limestone was chosen because of its softer texture. “Granite can be a visually busy texture, so the limestone is a quieter, more neutral contrast,” explained Horn, who added that selecting the exterior limestone was much easier than choosing the interior granite.

“It was hard to find stones that were not too visually textured [for use inside the facility], and yet still had enough color contrast to make the pattern we were after,” said Horn. “Plus, there are not as many tonalities in the granite as there are in the limestone.”

Ultimately, Sahara Beige granite was chosen for the majority of the flooring, while Café Imperial granite and Giallo Veneziano granite were used as accent stones. Southland Stone USA, Inc. of North Hollywood, CA, supplied all of the materials implemented in the project.

Horn said that the mall owners, Forest City Enterprises, Inc., chose granite for maintenance reasons. “They have confidence with its durability and maintenance-free elements,” said Horn. “They have had a lot of experience with it, and felt it was best to use for the flooring of the mall, which is comprised of 12- x 12-inch granite tiles in a 'wave' pattern.”

The architects from RTKL faced challenges regarding the budget they were given to work with for the flooring. “The pattern we initially developed for the floor incorporated an undulating wave pattern,” said Horn. “Cutting the curved stone was way too cost prohibitive, so we had to develop the pattern using straight cuts, which we were able to achieve.”

Ravi Johar of Southland Stone said that all of the stone used for the walls, columns, benches, caps, vanities and reception desks are all custom-cut sizes.

VCC Construction Corp. of Newport Beach, CA, served as the general contractor for the project. Grady's Superior Inc. installed the granite flooring, while Stone and Tile Masters installed the limestone. The exterior limestone was mechanically fastened on the vertical surfaces, and the greatest challenge was delivery times, according to Davis. “[It was difficult getting] stone delivery to meet the schedule and coordination of the framing and stone cutting for the vertical surfaces,” he said. To overcome the setback, the men had to work overtime, and some of the stone had to be special freighted to the site. “[It took] many meetings to coordinate steel framing and stone fabrication trades, and an exhaustive shop drawing review process.”

According to Johar, great care was taken to overcome timing obstacles. “As with most projects, we were given 10 weeks to get all the material to the jobsite,” he said. “We did manage to keep to the time schedule and yet maintain quality and consistency. We used about five factories to expedite production, and maintained a very tight inspection to keep a tight quality control in Brazil. Shop drawings for all the walls and specially fabricated pieces were not completed or confirmed until August, and the mall was to be completed by October. A lot of stone had to be air freighted from Brazil and Israel. Limestone from Israel was off-loaded in New York and shipped over land to save time. Even though the selection process and award of the contract was delayed, we managed to get the job done in time and successfully -- to everyone's satisfaction.”

The interior stone installation was completed using thinset mortar, according to Troy Bryant, President of Grady's Superior Inc. “Once existing tile was removed, we shot blasted, leveled and patched the floor with a fast-setting Polymer-Modified Hydraulic Mortar, and then used Mapei Mapelastic SM, which is a Crack Isolation Membrane. We then set the stone with Mapei Grani/Rapid thinset and grouted with Mapei KER 200 grout.”

Installation took anywhere from 35 to 70 men on the job at any given time. The project began in early June of 2003 and finished in January of 2004. “There were times we had to pull off the job because areas were not ready, so this was not a continuous project for us,” said Byrant, who said there were some issues regarding the intricate layout. “The job did not permit us to start in one area. The project dictated starting in multiple areas on three different levels at once, and make the layout come together properly, which it did.” Byrant also added that problems arose concerning the crew's schedule. “There was also the adverse condition of installing at night, and to have the floor ready for public traffic by 7 a.m. We had eight hours to set up and clean up, which included temporary mortar transitions from new stone to existing concrete, general clean up, and making sure all areas were safe for public traffic.”

Horn said that the feedback concerning the mall shows that the project was extremely successful. “It achieves the look of refreshing the existing property -- a warm, inviting environment,” said Horn. “We have received a very positive reaction from the mall management.”

End box

South Bay Galleria
Redondo Beach, CA

Owner: Forest City Enterprise, Inc., Cleveland, OH
Architect: RTKL Associates Inc., Los Angeles, CA
General Contractor: VCC Construction, Newport Beach, CA
Stone Installers: Grady's Superior Inc., Brea, CA (granite flooring); Stone and Tile Masters, Laguna Beach, CA (exterior limestone)
Stone Supplier: Southland Stone USA, Inc., North Hollywood, CA
Installation Products: Mapei, Deerfield Beach, FL