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When an investment group purchased the former headquarters of Columbia Gas in downtown Columbus, Ohio, the organization sought to bring the then 32-year old building into a new era. Situated on the Scioto River that runs through downtown Columbus, the structure that locals had known only as “Columbia Gas” for 30 years was in great need of revitalization, especially as the downtown riverfront was undergoing a large-scale renovation. The investors were prepared to take significant strides to reinvent the location with a completely updated, 4,000 square foot lobby befitting the new moniker, “200 Civic Center.”

The decision makers for 200 Civic Center’s update turned to Columbus-based architectural firm Behal Sampson Dietz to lead the lobby project. The building’s original, 1983 lobby floor and walls were covered in travertine that didn’t appeal to modern design sensibilities. Knowing the lobby plays such a pivotal role in setting the stage for the entire building it represents, the specification team searched for an innovative surfacing material that would provide a sleek, sophisticated appearance, easy maintenance, and exceptional durability—all for the long-term.

Budget and timing quickly became major determining factors, as well. Specifiers needed a solution that was both cost- and time-efficient, as two new tenants quickly signed leases and scheduled their move-in dates. Additionally, removing that dated travertine, which is ¾” thick and set in a 2” mud bed, proved to be an impossibility due to expense and logistics.

The designers opted to leave the wall travertine and stain it white to create a more current, fresh look, yet install new flooring material to truly transform the space. The flooring material would be required to both correspond with the aesthetics of the soon-to-be stained travertine and also allow for installation atop the in-place travertine flooring. With its contemporary style, thin profile, and ability to install over a range of existing surfaces, Laminam by Crossville porcelain tile panel collections hit all the right marks for this demanding flooring project.

Designers selected Laminam I Naturali Pietra Di Savoia in two sizes—1mx1m and 1mx3m. Because the lobby’s space is configured in an irregular shape, the two sizes of Laminam were used to create a centered pattern, in which the peripheral tiles—cut into thirds—took the shape of the original floor plate. The large format of the Laminam allowed the design team to be sensitive to the scale of the space while capturing the appearance of a much more expensive slab material.

To install the porcelain tile panels, the team at Southwestern tile sanded down the natural stone and applied Latricrete’s Hydro Ban, a waterproofing and crack isolation membrane. Then the Laminam by Crossville porcelain tile panels were set using Latricrete 254 Platinum thin set mortar. This approach resulted in a very efficient, beautiful installation that gives the space a totally new look yet did not require demoing of the previously installed material.

The porcelain tile panel’s nuanced details and color proved to be a beautiful coordinate to the freshly stained walls. All the updates and new elements worked together to transform the lobby into an inviting, unique space that will take 200 Civic Center into the future with the class and quality the storied, downtown building deserves.