IN PUBLIC PLACES
The Western Heritage Parking Garage sits between the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History on its south side and the Fort Worth Community Arts Center on the north, opposite the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. The parking garage serves the Cultural District of the famed Texas “Cowtown.” Like all Texan efforts, the four mosaic tile murals inset in the exterior façade of the garage are fascinating and big – 33’ high and 9’ wide. Two more murals that set off the entrance and exit to the parking garage are 3’ high by 17’ and 15’7” inches wide, respectively.
Last spring the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County selected the proposal from famed mosaic artist Mike Mandel (Watertown, Mass./ http://www.thecorner.net/) as their choice for an artistic tile installation in this very public place. Mandel won a Spectrum Grand Prize Award for his mosaic murals at the Charlotte Convention Center in 2005 and at Skyview High School, Vancouver, Wa., in 2000.
Once Mandel fabricated the mosaic tiles into a photographic-style image laid out on 1’x2’ tape-faced panels (1’x1’ for the horizontal murals), he relied on the tile installation team from Collins Tile in Lubbock, Texas, to mount the murals into the façade of the garage.
“We had to deal with all the typical issues involved with installing on an exterior façade,” Mandel said. “The murals had to be designed to withstand movement that occurs due to temperature changes experienced from night to day and from season to season. We had to be sure we had an installation system that would give us 100% coverage for the tile panels, and we had to make certain the tiles didn’t slip on the vertical surface.”
Mandel’s solution for these challenges was one he has been employing for years. “We only install with MAPEI’s Kerabond/Keralastic mortar system, and we grout with Ultracolor grout,” he said. “And we always follow the TCNA Handbook’s methods for the installation of tile and stone.”
The vertical inset walls were prepared by the general
contractor with a cleavage membrane and lath-and-plaster system as recommended in TCNA Method W-201. The inset was 2” deep before tile application. The plaster work complies with 1/8” per 10’-0” tolerance for the vertical surfaces.
Installers from Collins Tile prepared the entrance/exit walls for direct application onto brick, using TCNA Method W-202. The depth before tile application on these walls was 3/4” with brick surround.
A fear of heights would have been a serious problem on this project. The bottom of the inset murals began 25’ above the ground. Cranes and lifts raised the installers up as high as 58’ in the air at the top of their work. But the Collins crew was fearless. Once the tile panels were set according to a numerical grid arrangement using Kerabond/Keralastic, the team grouted the joints with Ultracolor Plus grout. Mandel chose to use a black grout throughout the project. When the murals were complete, they were covered with a sealer to protect against weathering.
The art murals were so well received that Mandel and the tile installation crew will be back in Fort Worth this spring to install an additional seven murals on the new Equestrian Multi-Purpose Facility at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. Established in Fort Worth in 1936 to house events near downtown and in the Cultural District, the center attracts in excess of two million visitors each year.