Designer Forum: Architextures SP designs an office headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri - March 2023
By Christi Johaningmeyer
When national flooring installation company Flooring Systems Inc. approached Architextures SP about working together on its new ground-up St. Louis, Missouri headquarters, the mission was to design a high-end, nature-inspired, collaborative office building with rustic architectural flair. To achieve this, Architextures SP incorporated many natural materials, often in raw form-heavy wood timber columns and beams, traditional brick, black iron, natural Missouri limestone, even embossed leather-both inside and out.
The building and its interior are far from traditional. The resi-mercial approach sought to create a place where employees could be more comfortable and happier. It might look residential with its warm natural wood elements and hint of rustic luxury, but it is highly durable and able to withstand high volume traffic with low maintenance for its cleaning staff.
A FOCUS ON FLOORING
From top to bottom throughout the project, Architextures SP wanted to showcase Flooring Systems’ installation talents by displaying a multitude of flooring materials. These came from a variety of preferred manufacturers, such as Crossville, Bentley, Anatolia Tile, American Olean, J+J Flooring, Caesar, Dekton, Edimax, Adex, Landmark Ceramics, Interceramic, Marazzi USA, Tarkett, Questech and Virginia Tile. The design team worked to highlight Flooring Systems’ start-of-the-art flooring techniques through specifications such as installing oversized porcelain floor panels in the main lobby, cladding vintage wood planks to the walls, and putting down modular carpet planks in ashlar and herringbone patterns.
One super-unique product-and particularly challenging installation-was the Dekton tile installed as the lobby floor. The 0.8” thick tile is made from 20 minerals that are bonded together through TSP technology, a high-pressure and -temperature process through which the materials are melded. Specified as 4’x10’, each panel weighed 78 pounds. Handling and installing material of this size requires the proper number of installers and specialized tools for moving, lifting and cutting the tile.
Depending on the installation, it can take up to four installers per panel when setting. The panels weigh even more after the back has been spread with mortar (both the back of the panel and the floor have to be troweled with mortar), and that weight needs to be distributed evenly so the panel does not break. Leveling must be truly accurate. A flat substrate is required, so the installers self-leveled prior to installation and utilized the Raimondi clip system.
Flooring Systems Inc. is the only contractor in the St. Louis area that can take on a large project, defined as over five panels, such as this one. Flooring Systems’ crews receive training from manufacturers, but quite a bit is learned directly in the field as each project is specific and presents its own challenges.
ALIGNING FORM AND FUNCTION
Entering through the asymmetrical vaulted entry vestibule, guests encounter the lobby’s simple Old World-inspired wood-clad walls, stacked stone wall accents and the embossed leather-wrapped reception desk. The Dekton tile flooring has an industrial rusted iron pattern that grounds the open two-story mezzanine. With Dekton’s high resistance to abrasion and wear and tear, and the possibility to cut it to size, it was the architectural firm’s go-to specification for the main entryway. They selected the “Radium Industrial” colored tile for its raw iron look and beautiful aesthetics.
The lobby also features an open staircase adorned in dark stained wood and metal iron accents, leading one’s eye up to the atrium where additional private offices and meeting spaces are located. J+J Flooring’s luxurious Smolder carpet tile in the Combust colorway adds a natural flair to each office and the collaboration rooms, while also helping with acoustics. It was selected for its Encore BCF performance nylon, deep earthy color, and 12”x48” plank format.
In the training room, Bentley Mills’ textural Coin-Op carpet tile in a weathered chocolate brown combines with stone clad and suede wrapped wall panels and accented step lighting to create a warm and relaxing atmosphere, enhanced by the carpet tile’s NexStep cushion backing.
In the breakrooms, copy rooms and public restrooms, a blend of tile was selected: Edimax’s Slaty in Ochre, Marazzi’s Urban District Brx, Crossville’s Familiar Territory in Mahogany Cross Sheen and American Olean’s Union in Weathered Beige. All chosen for cleanability and slip resistance, they also offer rustic stone visuals in keeping with the overall design aesthetic.
With Big Cedar Lodge as their inspiration for rustic luxury, the owners hand-selected every wall tile, from Anatolia’s Bliss satin metal mosaics to Questech’s Dorset cast metal tiles and Interceramic’s Wheelhouse, a geometric mosaic featuring a square within a square. Each truly accents and adds another level of detail that makes a statement at the restrooms and coffee bars, especially when combined with suede-finished granite countertops with chiseled edges, showcasing their beauty in raw form.
In the corridors, the design team used a 3”x9” random-stained white-oak wood flooring called Antique Barn Siding from St. Louis’ Boardwalk Hardwood Floors. The distressed umber brown planks create a warm, residential-like feeling of comfort throughout while keeping its vintage but modern capabilities. Exposed wood beams in the ceiling add to the sense of home-like comfort as one walks to the workroom or grabs a cup of coffee from one of the three breakrooms.
Since the company cleans the warehouse floor regularly with water, the owners were concerned about moisture getting into the warehouse offices. Kinetex hybrid modular flooring tile was specified through J+J Flooring, not just for its high performance but also because its breathable nature allows moisture to pass through its backing instead of trapping it underneath the surface. Combining attributes of hard and soft surface, it was the ideal material.
The design team passionately focused on customized elements that create an environment where the sum of its parts is a dynamic and rich whole, providing an ultimate experience for Flooring Systems’ employees and customers. At every turn are thoughtful design elements reminiscent of the look and feel of a private lodge connected with nature, setting the office apart from the other commercial properties in the city. The reaction has been, “Wow, am I in Colorado?” Such reactions are at the heart of what Architextures SP sought to curate: a distinctive, timeless and forward-thinking environment for many generations to enjoy.
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