Historic terrazzo restored; joined by new
“You hear about the skills of old master craftsmen, but in many ways, today’s craftsmen are actually held to higher standards,” said John Blakley, terrazzo contractor on the transformation of the 100-year-old St. Vincent’s Hospital as the new student center of Indianapolis’ Ivy Tech Community College.
The restoration and expansion of the long-abandoned hospital is a highly functional convergence of old and new. Founded on the most durable elements of the old hospital, the project revived a treasured community landmark and its still-valuable historic floors. Preservation also translated to cost savings over demolition for the college.
A large portion of the hospital structure was demolished, but century-old cementitious terrazzo filling the original main entry, notably a monumental stairway, was restored and incorporated into the expanded facility. New epoxy terrazzo in complementary colors was installed in the common areas of the new sections. The 211,650-square-foot facility was completed in 2013.
“This project was a rare opportunity to incorporate terrazzo that old into new construction,” said Blakley, a member contractor of the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association.
“While you can’t bring the old terrazzo back to higher standards than what it was built to, you can bring it back to what it was like when first done,” said Blakley, of the Blakley Corporation of Indianapolis. The renovated terrazzo “looks old,” he noted, only in that the colors aren’t trendy today.
He added that the original terrazzo probably looks even better after renovation than the day it was first installed. It natural patina and irregularity of colors, though presenting a challenge for new color matching, lend the floor its well-earned character. The classic, retro design unifies old and new throughout the facility.
“Terrazzo allows for a design of patterns to flow from space to space that you can’t do with other materials, and it is a hard surface with a high level of durability,” explained project architect Kevin Shelley, AIA, LEED AP, principal at Schmidt Associates in Indianapolis. “Your imagination is almost the limit of what you can do with it.”