Jerome L. Greene Neuroscience Center: building for scientific progress

MAPEI products used in award-winning project

The Jerome L. Green Neuroscience Center at the Manhattanville campus of Columbia University in New York City was built to take us into new frontiers of medicine. According to the University, “At the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, hundreds of the world’s leading researchers will tackle the most exciting scientific challenge of our time: understanding how the brain works and gives rise to mind and behavior.”

Housed within the Greene Science Center, the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute brings together nearly 1,000 scientists from across many departments at Columbia University who will collaborate on research, teaching and public programming. Their goal is a deeper understanding of the brain that promises to transform human health and society.

Floors covered with Mapeguard 2.

From effective treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to depression and autism, the potential impact for humanity is enormous. “Just as science was transformed in the 20th century by the decoding of DNA, science in the 21st century will be transformed by decoding the human brain,” said Eric Kandel, MD, co-director of the Zuckerman Institute.

The Greene Science Center is the first of several buildings to be completed on the Manhattanville campus. The University press office reported, “The nine-story, 450,000-sq.-ft. [41,806 m2]

Unique tile-to-metal stair installation.

structure is the largest that Columbia has ever built and the biggest academic science building in New York City.” Designed by the world-renowned Renzo Piano Building Workshop, in association with Davis Brody, LLP, and Body Lawson Associates of New York, the science center has led us to expect great things of its construction. In fact, the center won the Ceramics of Italy 2017 Tile Design Competition in the Institutional category.

MAPEI at work on the jobsite

Jantile, Inc., of Armonk, N.Y., won the bid to install the ceramic tile throughout the project. As always, coordination with other trades played a role in the installation, but thanks to general contractor Lend-Lease, with whom Jantile frequently works, all went smoothly.

Tiles set with Ultraflex LFT and grouted with Ultracolor Plus.

The main challenge dealt with accurate transitions from space to space. Because the Jantile crew was working with such large tiles over vast expanses of open space, and because the glass facades shed so much light on the space, the installers had to be exceptionally careful lining up tiles with each other and other surfaces on each of the eight levels.

Lots of light meant exacting transitions.

The first and largest component of the project for Jantile was the preparation of the space prior to setting tile. The core structure of the building is steel with a glass facade for the shell. Because the subsurface was steel, each of the eight upper floors had to be prepared with a mud bed measuring 2.5” (6,3 cm) in thickness. First, the crews put down a slip sheet and covered it with mud and wire reinforcement. The installation crews then combined MAPEI’s Planicrete® AC, a liquid latex admixture, with the mud bed mix to enhance its performance.

Once the mud bed cured, it was covered with MAPEI SM Primer™ and Mapeguard™ 2, a thin, lightweight crack-isolation and sound-reduction sheet membrane. Mapelastic™ 400 was also used for waterproofing in the restrooms.

Wide open expanses of tile.

Casalgrande Padana tile was installed over 78,000 sq. ft. (7,246 m2) of space on the upper eight levels of the nine-story building. In the corridors and open expanses, MAPEI’s Ultraflex™ LFT™ mortar and Ultracolor® Plus grout were used to install 40,000 sq. ft. (3,716 m2) of Pietre etrusche capalbio tiles from Casalgrande Padana’s Pietra Native Series measuring 24” x 48” (61 x 122 cm) and 18” x 36” (46 x 91 cm). An additional 38,000 sq. ft. (3,530 m2) of 12” x 24” (30 x 61 cm) floor tiles and 12” x 12” (30 x 30 cm) wall tiles from the Pietra Native series were set in public restrooms in the building. Once again, the setting materials were Ultraflex LFT and Ultracolor Plus. A custom mix of mosaic tiles from Vitra were used as a decorative feature in the restrooms, also set with the MAPEI products. All tiles and installation products were provided by MAPEI distributor ProSpec, LLC.

The installers worked from shop drawings that had been approved by the architects. The work in the restrooms took one to two months, and was done intermittently as each floor became ready. The large, open expanses were completed over a continuous six-month period. When restrooms and floor expanses were ready at the same time, eight to 12 Jantile installers worked the site.

One particularly interesting and unique challenge was met with a series of MAPEI products. The metal stairways connecting each floor were designed to be covered with the large-format Casalgrande Padana tiles. To get the ultimate bond between the ceramic tiles and metal stairs, the installers began by coating the metal surface with Primer E 100%-solids epoxy primer to enhance the bond with Mapecem Premix cement-based mortar for subfloor preparation work, which was layered on top of it. The tiles were then set into the Mapecem® Premix using Ultraflex LFT.

Project manager Don Durnell summed up this fascinating but challenging installation: “Coordination by experienced people throughout the entire process is what allowed us to accomplish this feat. We depended on the experience and expertise of our long-time employees to get the job done right.”

MAPEI is proud to have been a part of the job.

Member Spotlight: Dave Rogers, Welch Tile & Marble

NTCA opens the door to a new career
for Dave Rogers

Have you ever wondered – when you got involved with something – where it would take you in life? Today, I am the Training and Development manager for Welch Tile & Marble in Kent City, Mich., the chairperson for the NTCA Training and Education Committee, and I serve on the NTCA Technical Committee. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would have this much responsibility, I would have told you that you were crazy.

 

Dave Rogers

My journey in the tile trade started about 27 years ago at a flooring store in Port Clinton, Ohio. There I learned about diverse types of floor coverings, including carpet, sheet vinyl, and of course ceramic tile. Tile wasn’t the focus of the business, but it was enough to spark my passion for the trade. As years went on, I started my own business after marrying my wife Jenny and moving away from my home town. In my company, I provided carpet, vinyl – and of course ceramic tile – but again it was not the focus of my business. I took every tile project I could and learned along the way. I soon realized I needed more training. This is where my journey with the NTCA starts.

I attended Coverings in Orlando, Fla., in 2007. I must have gotten on the NTCA’s mailing list because I started to receive the TileLetter magazine and began reading about the NTCA and what it had to offer. Being a small company, I initially didn’t think it would work for me, but I was wrong. I joined in 2009 and started using the benefits of the association by requesting technical advice and attending workshops whenever I could. When I wanted to get more involved, I was offered the opportunity in 2011 to serve on the Board of Directors, and attended my first Total Solutions Plus in Naples, Fla.

Brad Denny (left) with Dave Rogers during the Regional Evaluator training at TISE West this year

This is when I realized the true value of the NTCA. I can still remember sitting in on my first Technical Committee meeting and hearing James Woelfel ask if any of the contractors in the room had any comments. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I then realized that I had found what I was looking for and why I was a member of the NTCA. The association made it easy to make friends and get involved. I took every opportunity I could to lend a hand, from helping design the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) shower test, to assisting CTEF’s Scott Carothers set up demonstration modules, to becoming a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) evaluator. My wife always teased me that I went on these trips to relax and sit by the pool, but that was never the case.

As I got more involved with the association, I got to know more and more people – especially a contractor from Grand Rapids, Mich. named Dan Welch. I remember calling him a few times looking for technical advice, then working with him to develop the ACT shower test. After a while – and a few trips to NTCA functions – we started to talk more and more about technical issues as well as what happened that day and life in general. Dan was generous with his help, so I made trips up to Grand Rapids to learn what I could do to grow my business. And I traveled with the Welch team in 2013 to install the temporary flooring at Coverings in Atlanta. Along the way, I’ve had some unexpected adventures, from changing an alternator in Dan’s truck along the side of the road, to tiling the inside of a shipping container at coverings in Chicago. When Dan says “So, I’ve been thinking…” you know it’s about to get interesting.

Dave Rogers (left) with Jim Olson at a Training and Education Committee meetings during TISE West in Las Vegas in January 2017.

As Dan’s and my friendship grew, I realized that my calling was not to be a business owner – but I felt I would make a great employee. So, I shifted gears and started looking at different opportunities in the industry for employment, including working for Welch Tile, but the distance always seemed to be a hurdle, or maybe I just wasn’t ready. In the fall of 2015, I helped Welch Tile as temporary labor on a project in Kalamazoo, Mich., and became convinced that I wanted to abandon business ownership and be part of a larger company that offered camaraderie and support. Dan and I talked about it in December 2015, and I revealed I was ready to make the leap away from self-employment the following year. A week later, while driving home from work, Dan called with his signature, “So, I’ve been thinking…” greeting – then offered me the opportunity to run the training program at Welch Tile.

The week after Christmas 2015, my family and I made the trip to Grand Rapids for an interview. It was a tough decision for my family to make, but we focused on the quality of life we had as a family, going back to the adage that “You don’t know until you try!” January 25, 2016, marked a new start to my career and a new way of life for my family in Grand Rapids, with Welch Tile.

Remember the question I asked at the beginning of this letter? I would have never dreamed by becoming an NTCA member I would be where I am today. If I never made that first trip to Coverings in 2007 and hadn’t joined the NTCA, where would I be today?

Building a better tile setter training process with Dan Welch

By Dan Welch, president, Welch Tile & Marble

Improving tile setter training

In June 2017, Welch Tile & Marble hosted the NTCA Five Star Contractor summit, updated the group on its training journey, and revealed future for hands-on tile training. Welch Training & Development manager Dave Rogers and I – through trial and error – jointly brainstormed about building a better tile setter training process using a shipping container. The plan escalated when we started developing the Five Star Contractor meeting agenda, which forced us to think through our process successes and failures over the past 12 years. We started with our related instruction outline for Apprenticeship and the milestones to build the NTCA online Apprenticeship modules.

Our first challenge with training was engaging the apprentices after working a full day in the field. Much of the classroom training required extensive pre-planning and preparation in the warehouse with tools and products in unused spaces. This situation led us to make small mockups that only one or two individuals could work hands-on at a time, leading to disengagement with class members who weren’t participating in hands-on module work – you knew you lost them when they pulled out their cell phones and their eyes glazed over.

Dan Welch and Dave Rogers worked together to develop a training container concept for house hands-on training modules for apprentices that would not tie up warehouse space.

Training factors to consider

We identified these different factors and aspects of training that needed to be addressed in order to craft an engaging, effective training process.

  • Safety tool box talks at the beginning of each class
  • Short classroom pre-hands-on explanation and theory
  • Encompassing real job challenges into our process by building scale mockups of upcoming projects’ conditions
  • Eliminating time-consuming setup and clean up
  • Addressing lack of usable space in a warehouse
  • Cost of training
  • Damage to training modules from week to week
  • Waste

    The excitement and buy-in was inspirational when all the apprentices had a mock up to work with.

  • Apprentice schedule flexibility and accommodating out of town commitments with make-up classes

Building a better training process

With these challenges in mind, we looked back at the 2016 Coverings Installation Design Showcase (IDS) container that we built our IDS vignette in, and contemplated how we could pair our hands-on training concept with a self-contained, movable area that would not plug up our warehouse every week. The concept was further validated by a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) pre-test activity, where our apprentice setters came in for many weeks and took the test two hours at a time and at their own pace. The excitement and buy-in was inspirational when they all had a mock up to work with.

Dave Rogers went a step further by adding proper lighting, and mock construction defects in the build out such as missing studs, multiple curb details, or out-of-level conditions

Our answer was right under our noses! We removed one wall of the 20-ft. shipping container and built various site conditions inside the container, starting with underlayment installation. We continued hands-on training each week, building on the previous week’s activity until it was complete.

Dave Rogers went a step further by adding proper lighting, and mock construction defects in the build out such as missing studs, multiple curb details, or out-of-level conditions.

We are currently working on an awning system that will enable us to leave the containers outside, which would let us move the classroom location and venue. These containers cost very little to purchase and fit out, allowing us to replicate anything we can dream up.

Welch Tile is currently working on an awning system that will enable it to leave the containers outside, which would make the classroom location and venue mobile.

Welch Tile has invested in people, training and education and safe work practices for a long time and this concept will allow us to be more efficient, better prepared, highly productive, and create a strong culture for the future of our business. I can only pray that many of you can invest in your team.

Dan Welch,
president Welch Tile & Marble,
“People Creating Change”