Celebrating a City’s Culture in Terrazzo

Celebrating a City’s Culture in Terrazzo

Harmonie Park terrazzo

Artist Hubert Massey works on a grand scale to celebrate culture. His latest outdoor project showcases the beauty and durability of terrazzo.

“My main ambition in urban communities in the United States is to make a difference by telling the history of our cultural richness,” Massey told Elizabeth Atkins of BLAC Detroit. “My art celebrates how much I love this city.”

Massey is known for creating large-scale public art in Detroit, where he lives. He is best known as a muralist, but he also loves terrazzo. His 72 foot-diameter terrazzo work “Genealogy” graces the rotunda floor in the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

His latest terrazzo design, “Paradise Valley,” forms the walkway in Detroit’s Harmonie Park and pays homage to musicians, public figures, and community leaders who had an impact on the area. The people depicted in the terrazzo artwork include internationally recognized entertainers who toured the Paradise Valley area of Detroit.

The images were created by NCTA contractor Michielutti Bros. using rustic terrazzo murals surrounded by granite pavers. Massey chose rustic terrazzo because of its unlimited design and color potential, in addition to its durability in high traffic areas.

To allow the artist to skillfully depict the images in terrazzo, 12 custom colors were created. To overcome the challenge of weather—the murals are subjected to freezing temperatures as well as snow and ice—no divider strips were used. This required skillful attention to detail in the terrazzo work to realize the artist’s renditions of each figure and building.

The result is impressive and won contractor Michielutti Bros., Inc. a 2011 Honor Award from the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association (NTMA).

Terrazzo Contractor: Michielutti Bros., Inc. (Eastpointe, MI)

Architect: Hamilton Anderson Associates (Detroit, MI)

Artist: Hubert Massey (Detroit,MI)

General Contractor: Jenkins Construction, Inc. (Detroit, MI)

Owner: City of Detroit-Downtown Development Authority

Aggregate Supplier: Terrazzo & Marble Supply Companies (Wheeling, IL)

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