Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, The Fairmont Royal York is within walking distance to the business and theatre districts as well as the city's shopping and dining - with nearby attractions including the CN Tower, SkyDome and the Hockey Hall of Fame. And while this five-star hotel is characterized by its classy interiors, its design integrates traditional elegance of the past in a modern-day setting. Recently, the hotel underwent a $12 million dollar renovation, which included restoring the public areas in addition to the marble floor within the lobby.

The designer's objective was to replicate the historic beauty and elegance of the original hotel floor. "We researched the original drawings and tried to recreate the original floor to bring the hotel lobby back to its original design intent, as well as bring it up to a five-star level," said designer Deborah Lloyd Forrest of ForrestPerkins, LLC in Dallas, TX. She explained that the actual researching and planning for this project was critical and took just as long as the implementation of the design and installation process.

"We chose mosaic as opposed to any other type of design installation, because it was appropriate to the project and era of the hotel," said Forrest. The floor, which was originally specified in marble, was restored to look as if it had been a part of the hotel for years, adding a classic and elegant look to complement the original elements within the lobby.

Many samples were considered before choosing the stones to create the mosaic design, which includes a feature element displaying a crown above the hotel's decorative initials.

The field design consists primarily of Jerusalem Gold limestone, with pieces of Giallo Provenza marble, both featuring light-colored shades of gold and white. "Our decision was based on the color of the stones and their wearability - whether the marble could withstand the traffic," said Forrest. "This is not a soft stone. We wanted an overall light background and a warm color, such as beige or gold, which narrowed our search down."

Colored stone was later employed to create the rosettes that are interspersed in the field of the design, which are also used exclusively for the border. The small insets consist of Rosso Verona and Verde Midas Dark marble, the large insets of Rosso Verona, Verde Midas Dark and Emperador Light marble. The border is made up of Rosso Verona, Verde Midas Dark, Verde Midas Light, Giallo Verona, Botticino Fiorito, Emperador Light and Emperador Dark marble. This 3-foot-wide border surrounds the center of the lobby and spans between the travertine columns.

Installing the floor

Before the new mosaic floor could be installed, some work had to be done to remove existing layers. Although the original floor was made of marble, a terrazzo floor was later built over it. The terrazzo had then been covered up with carpeting.

Once the carpeting had been removed, a bonding agent, Granirapid by Mapei, was used to bond the mosaic to the terrazzo, according to J.P. Monticolo of Jem Campbell Terrazzo & Tile, Inc., the installer for the project. Mapei's Keralastic was later used to attach the mosaic to the terrazzo to ensure an even stronger bond. A polymer-modified unscented grout, also by Mapei (Ker 800 series), was later used to fill the joints between the stone pieces of the mosaic, explained Monticolo.

Installation was a difficult process, according to both the designer and installer. "Having to move from one section to the next in order to make the design fit together was a difficult challenge," said Forrest. Because the work was done in an operating hotel, the installers had to work in enclosed areas away from the public. "We had to work isolated and could not make much noise, which was difficult, but the hotel eventually cut down on their demands drastically," said Monticolo, adding the floor had to be installed in different sections to minimize the impact of workers. "The job was given to us in pieces. It was like a puzzle, and we had to make sure we had the right piece."

The different shadings of the mosaic pieces was another challenge faced during the installation process. According to the installer, the stone pieces consisted of different colors - some slightly lighter, some darker or even more yellow than others. It was a time-consuming process for the installers to match the colors and make them blend appropriately with the rest of the floor, explained Monticolo. "We had to select every sheet [of marble mosaic] and decide if they matched before installing it," he said. The floor consists of 6,000 square feet of marble mosaic, with pieces measuring 3?x 3?inches in size, mounted on a 12- x 12-inch sheet. The various pieces of stone were handset and mesh-mounted onto pieces of plywood that were 6 feet long.

The entire installation process took six months to complete, with a small crew of only five workers. The work began in early 2000, and the final product was completed by Spring 2001.


The Fairmont Royal York
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Designer: ForrestPerkins, LLC, Dallas, TX
Stone Supplier/Fabricator: Ciot Marble & Granite, Montreal, Canada
Stone Installer: Jem Campbell Terrazzo & Tile, Inc., Toronto, Canada
Installation Products: Mapei, Ft. Lauderdale, FL