Drawing has always been a part of Bill Ketcham’s life, from elementary school in suburban Chicago and high school in Louisville, Kentucky, to majoring in architecture at the University of Kentucky. After earning his BArch, Ketcham moved back to Chicago and has been working in architecture ever since. Architecture is a direct response to Ketcham’s love of drawing.
Bill Ketcham started working with terrazzo almost from the onset of his professional career, and he is a great admirer of the product. “Terrazzo has an implicit quality, a timeless tradition,” stated Ketcham, “and it is sustainable when used with recycled content.” Ketcham has used terrazzo in a wide variety of projects, including Ravenswood Kinowerks and the Johnson Center at North Park University. The terrazzo floors in both also feature radiant heat.
One of his favorite projects is The Old Town School of Folk Music. The terrazzo floor in its public space has recycled content consisting of brown beer bottle glass, which symbolically links to the casual nature of the place and the type of music played there: Imagine people casually sitting around listening to and playing music having a beer. “That was a fun project to do.”
While architecture can be fun, engaging, and rewarding, it’s always hard. Said Ketcham, “You’re always trying to get the highest quality design for the best value. I work hard to include implicit symbolism into the detail and ornamentation of the design, which enriches the building and the experience.”
Throughout his career, Ketcham has had the good fortune to work with other outstanding architects. Three colleagues are notable for the help and guidance they provided him. Ketcham worked for five years with Harry Weese, one of the few people Ketcham would call brilliant. Carl Klimec took Ketcham under his wing. “He made me an adult in terms of architecture,” said Ketcham. Laurence Booth reinforced the principal in Ketcham that it’s “all about design.”
The importance of design is one reason Ketcham likes terrazzo. Ketcham appreciates the plastic nature of terrazzo, which gives the designer significant latitude in design opportunities, much more so than with simple rectangular flooring options. And Ketcham points out that terrazzo is also durable, easy to maintain, easily fixed when damaged, and sustainable when using recycled content.For all terrazzo’s advantages, architects, designers, and contractors should be prepared to spend time coordinating precast terrazzo with terrazzo cast in place. There can be differences in sheen or color.
Overall, Bill Ketcham loves the longevity and quality of terrazzo, and he aspires to incorporate it into all his projects. For instance, Ketcham has specified (not yet built) terrazzo for the radiant heating and cooling floors in a zero net energy project for the California Military Department.