Director of Interiors
Anderson Mikos Architects, LTD
When Barbara Palm of Anderson Mikos Architects first encountered terrazzo some 20 years ago during a hospital renovation, she was not at all familiar with the product and found the prospect of working with it a little daunting. There was a lot to learn about the product, such as the finishing process, and many aspects–both aesthetically and practically–had to be considered. It was a lot to take in. But it’s fair to say Barbara Palm is now a convert. She often recommends using terrazzo for large, heavy foot traffic areas.
A native of Chicagoland, Ms. Palm graduated from Northeastern Illinois University. After a few years as an art instructor for elementary and junior high school, she went on to study design at the Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago. Palm started in corporate design but soon found her sweet spot in healthcare design. She has spent most of her career at Anderson Mikos Architects, which specializes in healthcare facilities.
Through her experience designing interiors for a wide range of medical facilities, Palm has come to favor terrazzo because it is durable, impervious (and therefore antimicrobial), stain resistant, and easy and inexpensive to maintain. But mostly Palm appreciates terrazzo because of the versatility it offers in colors and patterns. Terrazzo “really lets you run with it for creativity,” said Palm. “Terrazzo lets you push the boundaries of flooring.”
Working in healthcare design has been intriguing for Palm. “You affect a lot of people with your designs. It’s really a chance to create a better the environment for all involved: patients, family, and staff. I find that very rewarding.”
Perhaps her favorite project was the Operating Rooms and Main Lobby expansion project at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Illinois, which represented the culmination of years of Anderson Mikos design concepts and projects for Rush Copley. She first introduced the hospital to terrazzo for its Emergency Department Entrance and Waiting Area, which was then carried through the public corridor to the rest of the facility. The recent new Main Entrance and Lobby have become the jewel of the hospital. Palm enjoyed working with Rush Copley. “The Administration really supported our design concepts and were a real pleasure to work with.”
Barbara Palm would like to see more in the way of terrazzo tiles that might make it easier to work in smaller areas. While a few manufacturers create such tiles, the tiles tend to be limited in color and look and don’t have the sparkle that comes from such add-ins as mother of pearl or glass. The tiles also lack differential sizing that would provide more depth.
Palm believes a good team is key to success. The best creative results grow out of designer and client collaborating as a team on the overall design. When it comes to that creativity, Palm suggests getting to know your terrazzo reps. They will give useful ideas about ways to use terrazzo to its best effect.