Best of NCTA 2018

Time-tested terrazzo techniques show breadth, beauty, and versatility.

Best of NCTA 2018

Breadth, Beauty, Versatility

Each year, the North Central Terrazzo Association gathers to discuss advances in technology, to refine industry techniques, and to build camaraderie across our association. We seek to make time-tested terrazzo techniques even better.

We also look back at the projects completed by our association members that show the breadth, beauty, and versatility of terrazzo flooring. Many of these projects are award-winning designs and installations, and they include hospitals, colleges, research centers, sports arenas, transportation hubs, and churches.

Join us as we celebrate some of the finest projects the contractors of the North Central Terrazzo Association have created.

Three Tips for Project Success: Terrazzo design and installation


Three Tips for Project Success

Terrazzo design and installation

Terrazzo flooring presents a unique blend of aesthetic choices, functional considerations, and practical applications. Designers and architects who find the near perfect blend in creating a beautiful and functional floor keep these three things in mind during a project.

Coordinate the concrete.
Pulling together a meeting between the general contractor and the terrazzo and concrete contractors will help avoid unpleasant surprises with the concrete substrate and the placement of strips in your design. To cut down on unnecessary disruption to the floor process, the design, engineering, and concrete teams need to work together to properly coordinate the pattern with substrate joints.

StVincent_terr pics0002

Understand floor sealers and finishes. Contractors often have a preferred sealer they use, and owners generally have a finish in mind. Learn how the contractor finishes a floor and get everyone on the same page.


Design for the timeless. Modern epoxy terrazzo presents limitless possibilities for color and aggregate choices, but remember it’s built to last. Classic, timeless, elegant designs work best for the long term and ensure a beautiful and easy-to-maintain result.


NTMA Honor Awards: Crisler Center

Crisler Center

With concourses that were old, dated, and constricted, the University of Michigan’s Crisler Center needed a facelift. Bill Frederick, project architect with TMP Architecture Inc., said though the structure was solid, there just wasn’t the amount of space that is found in newer arenas.

“What we wanted to do was build upon the strong elements of the existing Crisler building,” he said.

TMP’s initial target for the renovation was LEED Silver, something almost mandated by many universities today. Frederick said since obtaining LEED certification is a stringent process, architects try to work in some “cushion points.” Due to these extra points gained through the use of recycled materials, efficient mechanical systems, and the location of materials relative to the university, the project is Gold-certified.

One of the recycled materials used was terrazzo.

More than 50,000 square feet of epoxy terrazzo was installed in the concourse, for stairs from the concourse to the east side of the building and in the east entryway, all in time for basketball season.

Bursting with school pride, the university’s infamous fight song “The Victors,” can be found as water-jet solid zinc letters embedded in the terrazzo. The school’s logo appears in hallways leading to the court.

Crisler Center

“With a little bit of maintenance, it will be looking as good 20 years from now at it does today,” Frederick said. “It was a straight-line decision to terrazzo because it had the performance history and the flexibility that we needed to address the design.”

PROJECT NAME: Crisler Center (Ann Arbor, MI)
CLIENT: Regents of the University of Michigan
TERRAZZO CONTRACTOR: Michielutti Bros., Inc. (Eastpointe, MI)
ARCHITECT: TMP Architecture Inc. (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Spence Brothers (Ann Arbor, MI)
TERRAZZO MATERIAL SUPPLIERS: Terrazzo & Marble Supply Companies (Wheeling, IL) & Continental Terrazzo Supply (Houston, TX)
DIVIDER STRIP SUPPLIER: National Metal Shapes (Delaware, OH)
PHOTOGRAPHY: Viken Djaferian, FotoGrafix

NTMA Honor Awards: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

With more than 11 million visitors a year, the Cleveland Hopkins
International Airport serves as the first and last impression of the city to
many. To establish Cleveland as the artistic and culturally diverse
metropolitan that it is, the CLE Art Program was created.

The project transformed the airport into a local art gallery. Like most
galleries, some exhibits will come and go, but one will remain—the
Terrazzo Art Project. With a theme of “Cleveland—A Green City on a
Blue Lake (Past, Present & Future),” the flooring features artwork by
seven Northeast Ohio artists, including a group of local high schoolers
and a TSA officer.

During the renovation, more than 100,000 square feet of black carpet
was replaced with epoxy terrazzo. The retail space and concourse
include the locally designed artwork.

Cleveland Hopkins

“The artwork references the color and light patterns from Cleveland in a
very abstract fashion,” said Todd Mayher, project manager with Westlake
Reed Leskosky.

Cleveland Hopkins International was so thrilled with the results of the
renovation that it has chosen to move forward with more renovation,
adding terrazzo flooring in the remaining areas of the airport.

“It’s a hard surface for rolling luggage. It’s easy to clean,” Mayher said.
“It’s a timeless material. It will last a long time and won’t show its age.”

PROJECT NAME: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (Cleveland, OH)
CLIENT: Cleveland Port Authority
TERRAZZO CONTRACTOR: O.A. Bertin Company (Cleveland, OH)
ARCHITECT: Westlake Reed Leskosky (Cleveland, OH)
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Kokosing Construction Company (Fredericktown,OH)
TERRAZZO MATERIAL SUPPLIERS: Terrazzo & Marble Supply Companies (Wheeling, IL)
DIVIDER STRIP SUPPLIER: National Metal Shapes (Delaware, OH)
PHOTOGRAPHY: Anita Bertin DeGreen

NTMA 2014 Honor Awards

Each year, the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association (NTMA) celebrates the most interesting, creative, beautiful, and appealing terrazzo floors completed by NTMA contractors with its annual NTMA Honor Awards.

The awards honor the best terrazzo floors from the last year. Projects are judged on the basis of:

  • excellence in craftsmanship
  • intricacy of design
  • scope of work
  • originality of ideas
  • artistic and faithful reproduction of architects’ or designers’ drawings
  • quality of construction materials

Five experts and experience designers score the projects based on photos and a description of the job, but the project’s name, location, contractor, and all other parties involved with the construction are kept secret. Once the scores are tallied, the winners are announced, and the highest score receives the honor of “Job of the Year.”

This year, three NCTA members received Honor Awards for their work.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago 
Detroit, MI
Artisan Tile


Originally built like a fortress in 1927, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Detroit branch building was given new purpose as a retail and office space, with flooring that will make you stop on a dime.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Cleveland, OH
O.A. Bertin

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport’s walls and floors have become a permanent art gallery, as part
of Cleveland’s overall initiative to showcase its rich artistic and cultural diversity.

Crisler Center
Ann Arbor, MI
Michielutti Bros.

Crisler Center

To rise to the glory of “The Victors,” the University of Michigan’s Crisler Center was in need of a renewal, complete with banners flying with the floors – leading “The champions of the West” to victory.

Detailed posts about each project will be posted throughout the weekend, so make sure to check back!

Flooring Designs: You may be walking on a piece of art

Jennifer Harbster of the Library of Congress Science, Technology and Business division, believes that we rarely take the time to notice and enjoy the artistic details that go into the flooring design of a building.

Sadly, she is right.

But thankfully, she recognizes that if we just take a second to take quick look under our feet, we might notice that we are walking on a piece of art.

“Every day we walk on some sort of flooring, be it hardwood, linoleum, carpet, marble, or tiles, and if we look at what is under our feet, we might notice something very special,” she said in her post Terrazzo: Beauty Under our Feet.

Harbster specifically points out the beauty of terrazzo, our favorite sustainable and durable flooring option, in the John Adams Building in Washington, D.C.


The work in the John Adams Building was done by the National Mosaic Company of Washington, D.C., which was founded by Italian immigrants in 1896. According to Harbster, by 1906, National Mosaic Company has installed terrazzo and other mosaic or tile decorations in many other buildings in D.C. like the Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol, the Smithsonian museums, the Sherman Monument and the Evening Star Building.

Unfortunately, National Mosaic Company closed in 1942 because of a shortage of materials. But thanks to the longevity, durability, and ease of upkeep of terrazzo, the artwork done by those terrazzo installers can still be seen today!

Dispelling Terrazzo Myths

Terrazzo mythsDispelling Terrazzo Mythsmyths

As architects and designers move towards more sustainable, green design, terrazzo myths are increasingly being dispelled. We are here to highlight a few of the rumors and misconceptions, and show you the truth behind terrazzo.

Terrazzo is old-fashioned.
Though terrazzo dates back to the 15th century, it is far from old-fashioned. Pants are older than that and we don’t think they are outdated do we? Think of terrazzo as the jeans of flooring. It never goes out of style. Just take a look at what these two designers exhibited in Milan this year showcasing terrazzo versatility in some strikingly modern styles.

Using green and sustainable products costs more.
Sustainable products like terrazzo actually dramatically reduce long-term costs. Terrazzo won’t fray, snag or wear like other types of floors. It lasts for decades with minimal upkeep, and looks just like it did the day it was installed.

Natural polished terrazzo floors will stain without a protective coating.
The natural polishing process closes the pores of the terrazzo, reducing the chance of spilled liquids being absorbed. So don’t fret! If you spill coffee or red wine on terrazzo, it can easily be wiped away, leaving absolutely no stains or marks behind.

Terrazzo is plain.
This myth is one of the most commonly believed, and while many institutions have chosen to keep a monochrome floor, designers and architects have recently been embracing terrazzo for it’s remarkable flexibility. Because of color possibilities and unlimited design capabilities, terrazzo floors can be as bright, complex, bold, and beautiful as you would like. They can include anything from marble pieces to sea shells to glass. The possibilities are only limited by your own design imagination.

Terrazzo is only for schools and hospitals.
While terrazzo is a popular floor for education and healthcare, it isn’t limited to just those two types of facilities. Thinking about putting terrazzo in your airport? Go ahead! Have a unique design for your museum flooring? Terrazzo will let you accomplish that. Want terrazzo in your restaurant to keep stains and maintenance to a minimum? Install it. Hop on over to our case studies to have a look at some of the ways terrazzo is being used today.

Past and Present: The History of Terrazzo

History of Terrazzo

Terrazzo has quite the interesting history, with roots all over the globe. We’re going to take a quick dip into the history books and look at how terrazzo made its way to America.

To look at the beginnings of terrazzo we have to go more back more than 500 years, to Italy. While marble was the material of choice at the time, Venetian construction workers began mixing scraps from upscale jobs with clay to create inexpensive flooring for their own homes and patios. Though it may sound crazy, they discovered that to bring out the shine of the marble scraps they could seal the flooring with goat’s milk. Now, installation techniques and materials have changed dramatically–don’t worry, we won’t be pouring goat’s milk for your next floor – and we have advanced to a variety of sealants from the popular epoxy to the more rustic monolithic terrazzo.

While credit is given to the Italians, as it is widely recognized that terrazzo was invented by the Venetians, some archaeologists have found evidence of terrazzo-like floors in ruins in Turkey that date back 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. We like to think that makes terrazzo the original sustainable flooring.

So, how did we go from goat’s milk in Italy, to terrazzo in the north central states? Terrazzo first came to America in the late 18th century. Many monuments and historic American buildings feature terrazzo flooring–including George Washington’s home, Mt. Vernon. It soon became a widely used product due to the amount of marble in America and the continuous advancements in terrazzo installation techniques that made it faster and more durable than many other flooring choices.

Production became much easier in the late 1920s with the invention of electric grinders and other power tools. The 1960s and 1970s brought thin-set, or epoxy, terrazzo to the scene. This modern terrazzo provided more variety in color, a different thickness, and a faster install. Since then, most indoor installs have been epoxy terrazzo.

Today, terrazzo can consist of durable materials such as marble, quartz, granite, recycled glass, porcelain, concrete, and metal aggregates. These materials are mixed with cement or epoxy and polished to produce a sustainable, smooth, and uniformly textured surface that will last for years to come. If you would like to know more about the ever-changing new ways we’re using terrazzo, you can head over to our Case Studies for more in-depth details.

Terrazzo Artistry in Cleveland Airport

Cleveland airport terrazzo

What better place to showcase the work of local Cleveland artists than a place where more than 11 million people visit every year? And what better material to bring those artistic visions to life than terrazzo?

The city of Cleveland has done just that. Through the CLE Terrazzo Art Project, it has transformed the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) into a local art gallery. While some exhibitions come and go, the Terrazzo Art Project is a permanent installation. The rich colors of the designs will be a proud reminder of Cleveland’s beauty for decades.

The Terrazzo Art Project’s theme is “Cleveland – A Green City on a Blue Lake (Past, Present & Future).”

Cleveland’s own O.A. Bertin Co. was the contractor on the job, overseeing the terrazzo installations in seven separate locations throughout the terminal and concourses at CLE.Claire Sullivan Gerdes is a Cleveland artist and designer who runs her own design studio, Claire Sullivan Design. Her design, “Hooked on Cleveland” (pictured), was one of the seven designs selected for the CLE Terrazzo Project. Claire’s use of diverse shapes, naturalistic images, and symbolic icons—all framed by a flowing border—serves to highlight Cleveland’s world-renowned institutions, abundant natural resources, and the down-to-earth charm of the “Forest City.”

LOCATION: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
PROJECT THEME: Cleveland – A Green City on a Blue Lake (past, present & future)
DESIGNERS: Betsy Nims Friedman, Mark Rook, Maria Cuadra, Eaon March, Chae Simpson, Claire Sullivan, Sean Michael, Tom Koskey, Eva Kwong
ARCHITECT: Westlake Reed Leskosky
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Kokosing Construction Company
DIVIDER STRIPS: National Metal Shapes
EPOXY SUPPLIER: Terrazzo Marble & Supply Companies
CHIPS SUPPLIERS: Terrazzo Marble & Supply Companies and Continental Terrazzo Supply

To view more terrazzo samples, visit the NCTA’s Design Gallery, or view the Terrazzo Color Palette.

You can learn more about the NCTA here.