Stone combination provides three distinct looks

September 18, 2001
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When planning the design for Momentum Motor Cars in Houston, TX, the architects had several factors to consider.

Not only did the design have

to meet the standards of an upscale automobile showroom, it also had to effectively retain the characteristics of each of

the three major European car manufacturers - Jaguar, Porsche and Saab. To meet these design objectives, the architects used a variety of natural stone throughout the dealership.

"We considered glazed ceramic tile, but it just didn't compare [to stone}," said Randall Walker, AIA, of the Houston, TX-Based architectural firm, Kirksey. "And, the client really preferred the higher quality statement that travertine provides."

While Roman and Mexican travertines were both options for the flooring, Light Roman honed and filled travertine was used in the end, according to Randall. "We didn't want polished stone because we didn't want the glare," said the architect.

A total of 8,700 square feet of the material was employed as 12- x 24-inch tiles. In addition, the floor was also comprised of 2,100 square feet of Uqualla Gold granite and 6,200 square feet of Rajah Black granite, both cut into 18- x 18-inch tiles.

And although the material palette is consistent through-out the dealership, each area has a distinctive look to represent the style of the individual manufacturers. The Jaguar display is located in a large tower space, where the majority of the floor is Uqualla Gold granite accented by bands of Rajah Black granite. Wood paneling of sapele drap¿ahogany and stainless steel trim are combined with leather seating to convey the feel of Jaguar's luxury and sporting models, and dramatic murals created from archival photographs illustrate the manufacturer's racing legacy and focus the architectural effect of the cylindrical space.

Next to the Jaguar display is the Saab show area, which incorporates fiddleback sycamore paneling with Light Roman travertine flooring that is accented with Rajah Black granite. According to the architects, this provides a Nordic counterpoint to the adjacent spaces.

Located on a platform above the remainder of the sales floor is the Porsche display. For this space, Rajah Black granite was employed for the floor, while all the surfaces are made of stainless steel. The area also includes a custom graphic display system for images unique to the family-owned history of the manufacturer.

According to Walker, maintenance of the stone was a concern. "We were worried about oil spots and fluid from the vehicles," he said. "We made sure the travertine was sealed and that the cars don't leak. They check them often, and to my knowledge there have been no problems.

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