What can you do with two stories and a basement from a flat-iron-shaped building constructed in 1919? If you’re Walgreen’s, you can convert it into a striking new concept in health and wellness that fits right into the gentrified scene in the Bucktown-Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, IL. Working with the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, Walgreens has restored the historic Noel State Bank at the corner of Damen and North Streets in this locale northwest of the Loop to its original stately splendor, while at the same time turning it into an up-market Walgreen’s flagship store.

Curved sliding glass doors at the entrance, a stained glass skylight forming a six-pointed star, surrounding hexagonal ceiling trays creating Star of David patterns designed by the original owner, two-story columns with pilasters, clerestory windows fronting two sides of the triangle-shaped building and the original bank vault that now houses Walgreen’s vitamin offerings are all part of the renovation. And one element that combines old with new and truly pairs the original historical grandeur of the bank with today’s upscale interior facade is the tile on the floors and walls. Trostrud Mosaic and Tile of Wood Dale, IL, was selected to provide all the new tile, while artisan Jerry Jagovzinski of All Stone, Inc. restored the small mosaic tiles in the entryway of the store.

In the entrance around the curved sliding glass doors, the original mosaic tiles — resembling quarry tile — were worn, with some tiles missing in spots. Jagovzinski was able to recover serviceable tiles from the main floor of the bank and use these to restore the entryway. After all the tiles were in place, Jagovzinski ground them to a uniform surface height. He also fabricated marble panels for the walls of the vestibule. The floors were set with Ultracontact RS rapid-setting mortar and grouted with Keracolor S sanded grout. The marble on the walls was set with Mapei Floor & Wall Mortar and grouted with Keracolor U unsanded grout. All of the installation products were from Mapei of Deerfield Beach, FL.

The Trostrud Mosaic and Tile crews worked on the floors on all three levels of the store under the leadership of Mike Miller, one of the company’s most talented and experienced installers. In addition, Gavin Collier, another invaluable team leader, supervised the installation of glass mosaic tiles on the walls.

Installing new floors

When Brad Trostrud first saw the scope of the work in late 2011, he originally wondered if Walgreens would want to take on the challenge of a historical renovation of this scope; but the results would prove that good solid work could overcome all challenges. Before the tile installations could begin, Barrier Corp. of Morton Grove, IL, ripped up the old basement floors and leveled the surfaces with Mapei’s Ultraplan M20 self-leveling underlayment. The Trostrud crews then patched and smoothed any remaining voids there and on the two upper floors with Planipatch fast-setting patching compound.

The architectural plans called for relocation of the escalators between the basement, main floor and mezzanine to the south side of the building to open up the space. To obtain the maximum crack suppression performance due to any results of the relocation, the architect consulted with the Mapei representative, who recommended the use of Mapeguard crack isolation and sound reduction membrane.


Walgreen's Flagship Store

Chicago, IL

Job Conditions:

• Restored small mosaic tiles in the entryway of the store

• Ripped up the old basement floors and leveled the surfaces and then patched and smoothed any remaining voids there and on the two upper floors

• Installation time reduced from five to three months; had to lay floor tile quickly

• Installed mosaics on several back walls of the store

• Created a dramatic overhead visual with the installation of two glass mosaic murals

Products Used:

• Ultracontact RS rapid-setting mortar

• Keracolor S sanded grout

• Mapei Floor & Wall Mortar

• Mapei Ultraplan M20 self-leveling underlayment

• Planipatch fast-setting patching compound

• Mapeguard crack isolation and sound reduction membrane

• Ultraflex LFT Rapid

• Opticolor 100% solids epoxy grout

• Adesilex P10 bright white mortar

• Keracolor U


• Trostrud Mosaic and Tile, Wood Dale, IL (floor and wall tile installation)

• Jerry Jagovzinski of All Stone, Inc. (mosaic restoration in entryway)

All this surface preparation work resulted in very smooth floors for the tile-setting. On the main floor, Miller’s teams installed 6,500 square feet of 18- x 18-inch Dark Emperador and Crema Marfil porcelain tiles with a matte finish from Iris Ceramica.

Because other work in the building had reduced Trostrud’s timeline from five months to three months, the installers used Mapei’s new Ultraflex LFT Rapid, a mortar specially developed to install large-format tiles. “Because everything had to move quickly, we couldn’t tie up the floors for very long,” Trostrud said. “We particularly liked using the LFT Rapid because it set up quickly, but not too quickly, leaving us plenty of open time to get everything set just right.”

Ease of maintenance on a hard surface floor is important to Walgreen’s, so Trostrud suggested the use of Opticolor 100% solids epoxy grout for the tile joints. This solution worked very well and allowed the crews to finish work on schedule.

The public bathrooms were also set with the Dark Emperador 18- x 18-inch tiles on the floors and halfway up the walls. The upper portions of the walls were set with a 6- x 6-inch tile in a diamond pattern. Ultraflex LFT Rapid mortar and Opticolor grout were also used to set these tiles.

“One of the most interesting things about this job was the tile used on the basement and mezzanine floors,” said Trostrud. “While the tile on the main floor had a matte finish, the Dark Emperador and Crema Marfil tile used on the other two floors had a polished porcelain finish with an undulating surface, rather like a small wave across the surface of the tile. As installers, we are used to flat surfaces in polished porcelain, and this tile was quite intriguing to us. It didn’t present any problems for setting and grouting, however; and, when it was installed, it had the most amazing appearance.” On the mezzanine, 3,450 square feet of the tile was installed, while 4,400 square feet went onto the floors of the basement, including the area in the ‘vitamin vault’.

“My dad, Earl, came to visit on the day we were working in the vault, and he got to see how Walgreens decided to seal most of the deposit boxes inside the vault while leaving some open as displays of their historical drug store products,” Trostrud went on to say. (Earl Trostrud, Jr., received the Carl V. Cesery Award earlier this year, honoring him as a unique person who has served the entire tile trade with great distinction.)

Working with glass mosaics

Miller’s teams also installed 2- x 4-inch glass tiles from Interstile on several back walls in the cosmetics department on the mezzanine level, using Mapei’s
Adesilex P10 bright white mortar —specifically developed for glass tile. In the food prep area, they set 12- x 24-inch porcelain tiles on the walls of the food prep areas such as the sushi bar and juice bar.

Collier and his team created a dramatic overhead visual with the installation of two glass mosaic murals, using tile panels from Trend. These tiles were also installed with Adesilex P10 and grouted with Keracolor U. On the basement level in the pharmacy area, the words “Well at Walgreens” were picked out in blue amid the white background tiles, and green fronds covered the left side of the mural. On the main level, the mural consisted of two parts. The words “eat well” preceded a tumbled array of orange and yellow citrus slices covering one wall above fresh produce and beverages, while the facing mural featured green mosaic glass tiles for the background with the words “fast + fresh” announced in green tiles.

Collier’s expert eye met the challenges of some slight imperfections in the mosaic tiles. He cut and re-assembled some tiles to make everything work correctly within the allotted space, creating a heightened level of imagery consistent with the bank’s historical features.

“We were lucky to have Mike Miller and Gavin Collier free at the same time,” Trostrud said. “They are our two top project leaders, and having them both at work on this project helped us show what Trostrud Mosaic and Tile is well-known for top-notch work in tile.”