Beauty is Stone Deep for MIA Award Winners

Las Vegas, NV— Stone design and fabrication is one of the more complicated arts in kitchen and bath design. When fabricators have their noses to the grindstone, however, their precise craft can add a stunning effect.

To reward the difficulty of this work, the Marble Institute of America recently held its annual awards luncheon here to celebrate the winners of its Pinnacle Awards competition.

The competition is open to all MIA-member companies around the world.

An independent panel of judges was appointed by the MIA board of directors, including two Nashville-based architects, Marion J. Adamson of Gresham Smith and Partners, and Wesley Petrouske of Architectural Affiliates, as well as former MIA president Ken Krebs, of Houston, TX-based OHM International, and Charles Muehlbauer, the current technical director for the MIA.

The projects were evaluated based on excellence in design and implementation, quality, workmanship and suitability of materials in compliances with the MIA standards defined in its Dimension Stone Design Manual and technical modules.

Project teams needed to include at least one member of an MIA company, and all projects submitted needed to have been completed between 2004 and 2007 to be considered for the awards. Eleven companies and designers won awards in a variety of categories, including “Residential Interior or Exterior,” “Renovation/Restoration of Merit,” “Renovation/Restoration of Excellence” and “Commercial Interior.”

According to MIA, awards were presented to projects whose “beauty, creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship exemplify professional mastery in the use of natural stone.”

Reflection of Excellence

The winner of the “Residential Interior/Exterior Award of Excellence,” Ralph Signorelli of Port Chester, NY-based Millennium Stone Ltd. has worked with natural stone for more than 20 years. For this project, he and his team got personal as they went to work creating Signorelli’s own dream bath, one that would show off his and his wife’s taste in fine Italian marble while acting as a testimony to the craftsmanship that is possible designing with natural stone.

The project – which was completed in two weeks – impressed the judges, who noted that, “The design used details rarely seen and the stone drew additional interest.”

The ABC Stone Trading company was brought in to supply stone for the project.

Originally, the area for the bath was too small to accommodate the design, so the firm chose to capture space from the bedroom. The exterior wall was pushed out and a dormer was added to the roof for additional space.

The total area of the new space for the bath was approximately 384-sq.-ft. The designers chose to construct a radiant heat system to counteract the cold marble floor.

Paonazetto, a rare marble from Italy, was used for the floors, walls, moldings and trim of the bath. Seventeen slabs of marble were used in a book-matched pattern, creating the illusion that each stone’s edge is set against a mirror.

The slabs that were not used for the flooring were cut and used for the shower seat, ceiling, floors and jambs as well as the base moldings and the deck for the jetted tub. Wood paneling, an oversized window and cream-colored walls add warm tones and provide contrast.

Piece by Piece

For the St. Paul, MN-based Twin City Tile & Marble team, the remodeling of a private residence in Minnetonka, MN, including the addition of a master bath area, was completed in an astonishing 10-week period. According to the judges, “the design is simple and clean, which can be very unforgiving of errors, none of which were found.”

The project garnered the firm one of two awards of merit in the “Residential Interior/Exterior” category.

As one of the oldest members of the MIA, Twin City Tile & Marble facilitated the importing, fabricating and installing of the stone from Italmarble Pocai, the stone supplier. Criteria Architects designed the layout of the project, and Joe Lawler was brought in to contract the work. Using 28 book-matched slabs of Calcutta Gold marble measuring 1,180-sq.-ft. on its own, the bath took a total of 456 fabrication hours just on the floors and walls.

Ultimately, the bath was designed to allow space for a toilet, bath, bidet, shower, vanity room and Japanese soaking tub. Each piece of marble had to be measured, fabricated and installed before the next piece in a lengthy and challenging process.
Following the clients’ guidelines, the bath is designed to have the look of a clean, European spa and incorporates a mud set floor beginning beneath a radiant heating system which was constructed beneath the marble.

This project has skeletons: the installation of the walls incorporated copper wire and plaster, while the vanity top floats on a steel frame. According to the company, Twin City Tile specializes in fabricating natural stone and other engineered quartz products as well as hard tile installations. The fabricators also apply functional and decorative epoxies, urethane coatings and toppings for a wide range of projects, as shown neatly in this project.

Tualatin, OR-based Columbia Stone won the second of two awards of merit in the “Residential Interior/Exterior” category. The company also won the “Residential Exterior Section” category, for a designed and installed project on the exterior of a private residence in San Francisco, CA. The project used French limestone and took five years to complete. The panel of judges called it “a masterpiece.”

Other winners included Carrara Marble Company of America, in City of Industry, CA, which was presented with a special “Pinnacle Award of Excellence” for its work on a new 12-story building in Los Angeles; Carnevale and Lohr of Bell Gardens, CA, which won the “Commercial Interior Award of Excellence” for its work at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, and Rugo Stone of Lorton, Virginia, which won the “Renovation/Restoration Award of Excellence.”

The Marble Institute of America has been a leading information resource and advocate for the natural dimension stone industry for some 65 years, according to the association.

MIA’s interest goes beyond those committed to workmanship and ethics within the industry; it also produces many educational materials on the subject.

Members of the MIA include limestone, granite, marble, sandstone and other natural stone producers and quarriers, distributors, fabricators, contractors and installers across the globe.

Award of Excellence” went to the renovation of the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, MD.

For more about this project, click here.