A rediscovered plaza
Horizon Italian Tile
Thirty years after it was first built, the Plaza of the Americas in Dallas was looking tired and shabby, its central ice-skating rink sadly deserted. The plaza stands at the heart of a complex located in the Dallas Business District that was created in the late 1970s in one of the city’s biggest real-estate investments. Two tall office towers, a hotel and a conference centre are interconnected visually by a large 6,000 sq.m covered atrium lined with stores, restaurants and the old ice-skating rink.
The real estate company that purchased the complex in late 2011 immediately set about giving it a makeover by investing US $10 million to renovate the covered plaza and transform it into a friendlier and more attractive location that could be used all year round, even after five in the afternoon. The renovation project also extended to the 13 floors of retail spaces facing onto the large atrium, the conference centre, a new fitness center and the car parks.
But the part of the project that has had the biggest impact on the liveability of the area is without doubt the transformation of the old ice-skating rink and the other run-down areas into a green oasis — an indoor park with a controlled microclimate complete with real trees, water features and areas for socialisation and relaxation.
It was no coincidence that the urban regeneration project was assigned to two leading names in American architecture, who pooled their expertise.
Corgan Associates is a practice with a number of offices and a total of around 300 architects. Founded in Dallas in 1938, it gradually established a strong reputation in the field of public buildings for airports, schools and hospitals, as well as offices and residential buildings.
The Office of James Burnett is another Texan practice founded in Houston in 1989 which specialises in combining nature and architecture, the world of plants and the urban context, as in the case of Klyde Warren Park, built just a short way from the Plaza of the Americas.
Alongside the vegetation and water features, another key aspect of the renovation project that contributes to the visual appeal and usability of the location is the quality of the new paving, consisting mainly of ceramic tiles and large wood planks.
Corgan Associates chose Italian tile — specifically Kerlite Buxy 3Plus ceramic tiles from Cotto D’Este — for three reasons. «The first was the desire on the part of the client to enliven and warm up the space,» they explained. «The second reason was our wish to improve the poor aesthetics of the existing ceramic paving. But the third and most important was that the stores, restaurants and hotel needed to continue to operate throughout the renovation project, which meant avoiding demolition work. The thin but effective tiles we chose were the only ones capable of being laid perfectly over the existing paving and thus solving the problem.»
The ice-skating rink was demolished and the cement materials broken up and reused as a substrate in compliance with criteria of sustainability. The only ice that remains today is that of the ice cubes chinking in the glasses of the dozens of people seated at the tables lining the plaza.
Cotto d'Este, Kerlite Buxy
40x100 cm - 3,5 mm spessore/thickness
Amande and Caramel
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): <0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): ULA, UHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): <175 Mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): >1000N
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant