About the Project
The project involved two abstract ceramic tile "feature
walls" located in the lower level and first floor of
the new addition to the Cleveland Public Library. These
three dimensional walls are both 150' long and 12' high.
There is a radius on both the horizontal and vertical
planes. All tile is butt-jointed. There is no grout
A mixture of pure portland cement and latex was used
for the setting bed.
Our scope of work began with providing initial shop
drawings for construction of the framework, design confirmation
and finish dimensions. Following approval, we proceeded
with procurement of the material and constructed actual
size templates of the intricate profiles of the walls
to begin installation of the dry pack substrate. Installation
of the "mud" was very complicated due to:
- The numerous contours of vertical inside an outside
- Boxed projections and returns (for lighting)
- The top of the wall extends 4' out from the bottom
of the walls (the horizontal radius is increased by
- Tthe different thickness of the mosaic and quarry
The above substrate was installed with the requirement
of minimizing cut tiles. 99% of the tiles are full size
The tile installation includes 193,000 pieces of mosaic
1" x 3" in five colors which creates most of the design.
The tiles were hand set piece by piece on all inside
an outside radius areas due to the low tolerance of
adjustment from the butt-joint requirement. For the
flat surfaces, the manufacturer provided butt-jointed
tile sheets using a unique method of face-mounting the
patterns with carpet strips and glue developed specifically
for this job. The patterns were fabricated by the manufacturer
per our pattern and dimension requirements.
There are also over 2000 pieces of scored 6" x 6" quarry
tile (in four colors) and 18 water jet lanterns or shields.
Approximately 50% of the quarry tile were water cut
pentagons (see photographs) taken from "scored" 6" x
6" quarry tile. The pentagon shape (insert) was cut
both parallel and perpendicular with the direction of
the "scored" (field piece). All pentagon shapes cut
perpendicular to the scores were then exchanged with
the parallel cut pieces (and vise versa) to create a
checkerboard image when installed.
The "Lanterns" were designed with CAD and water jet
cut into approximately 100 pieces of hand set mosaic
tile per design. This "Lantern" motif is used continuously
in various design mediums throughout the library.
The goal of the project was to provide a unique, contemporary,
functional addition to the Cleveland Public Library.
Ceramic tile not only contributed to the design goals,
but is a main focal point of its success. The result
is an abstract design for the public enjoyment using
traditional materials and concepts developed from construction
of the original Cleveland Public Library during the
1920's. Success has only been achieved through cooperation
of the Architect, Designers, Manufacturer, Tile Contractor,