Arizona University football players kicked off the 2013 season in a newly renovated state-of-the-art stadium, which added approximately 575 premium seats for fans. The renovation of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility entailed an expansion to its north end zone and an updated aesthetic to its interior spaces. A cohesive look was maintained throughout the contemporary design with White Zeus Extreme Silestone by Cosentino.

“It was a north end expansion for the football stadium,” said interior designer Karen McCallum, ASID, LEED AP of Heery International in Atlanta, GA. “There was some seating, but it was bleachers. We demoed them out and built the entire building.

“They wanted to move the football ancillary components into the building so the weight room and offices would be there,” McCallum went on to say. “It created a football stadium hub. We added seats and completed their ‘bowl.’ Before, you couldn’t walk all the way around the stadium. We also added concession stands.”

A priority of the design was to incorporate the university’s colors. “That set the standard of what the interior design palette would be,” explained McCallum. “We wanted to blend that in a new and creative way. Their colors are red, white and blue. I thought the White Zeus Extreme Silestone was a beautiful way to bring in the school’s white.”

The new football facility spans 184,000 square feet. The first floor features the school’s Hall of Fame, an equipment room and medical treatment area, while the second level is a cardio mezzanine. Coaches’ offices and meeting rooms are located on the third floor and the fourth floor contains a cafeteria. The top floor is the club level.

The interior designer explained that the elevator bank on each floor serves as movement throughout the building. “There is a natural raw concrete element that runs throughout, and we wrapped the concrete with slabs of Silestone on each floor,” she said. “Because Silestone is a clean crisp product, we used it to counterbalance against the raw concrete. We also used warm wood pieces.”

Additionally, the countertops in the Sands Club were fabricated from White Zeus Extreme Silestone, with drink rail accents in Chrome Silstone, and there is a feature wall made of the quartz that has a repetitive pattern of the letter “A” sandblasted into it.

“I came up with the idea of sandblasting,” said McCallum. “It takes a repetitive logo pattern and creates a unique backdrop. I had to give some thought as to how to apply it. I asked myself, ‘Do we waterjet and then layer another piece behind it?’ I have seen that done before and it looks beautiful. Cosentino had some sandblasting samples done in different depths. If you went too deep the Silestone would pit. It was trial and error to get it right.” To attach the Silestone panels to the wall, a Cosentino hardware system was used.

A maintenance-free product

While using the color white in a football stadium might give the University some hesitation, McCallum was able to confidently explain that the quartz would not present any maintenance issues due to her own personal experience with the product. “I know people are always scared to use white,” she said. “There are a lot of white countertops in this facility, but from my own personal experience, I know you can get anything out of the Silestone. I felt comfortable with it.”

The interior designer explained that there were several design presentations with the school. “The first meeting was to get an idea of the aesthetic they like, which was more modern, clean lines and simple forms,” she said. “There’s a lot of glass and metal in the building. White was an easy sell because it is one of their colors. While they wanted it to look great, they also wanted it to maintain well. I sold it to them by sharing my personal experience. I have it in my own house. If tea or wine sits on it, I know I can get it out. Once I proved it to them, they were open to it.”

Installing the quartz

The Silestone was fabricated and installed by Coronado Marble & Granite of Phoenix, AZ, a certified Silestone fabricator. “There were a bunch of countertops and wall applications,” said Mike Green of Coronado Marble & Granite. “This was a huge undertaking for the University of Arizona.”

Green explained that all of the countertops had a thickness of 2 cm, while the wall pieces were 1 cm thick. The countertops were broken down into three parts due to their size of 9 x 25 feet. The wall panels measured approximately
8 x 4 ½ feet.

“We used an anchoring system that was specified by Cosentino,” he said. “It was the first time that it was used in the U.S.

“There was an instructional video online,” Green went on to explain. “The manufacturer is in Spain. We contacted them and discussed what our questions were. The hard part was putting the kerf through the center of the stone and bottom. That’s what holds onto the wall. We were able to engineer the machines to cut the kerf perfectly straight. We are not set up for that kind of machinery. I had about a month and a half of brainstorming how to do it. We used the Pro-Edge edge and shaper machine [from Park Industries] to cut the kerf at high speed.”

Installation of the Silestone wall panels and countertops took about three and a half months with 10 installers on the job. The design process for the renovation began late in 2010 and construction started in 2012. The project was completed in July 2013 — just in time for football season.