Of all the lists we compiled for this special issue, this one was probably the hardest. It wasn’t because there were so few good jobs to choose from — quite the opposite. There were tons! We tried to select 10 interesting and unusual jobs that covered a broad range of techniques. If you feel we left out a job that should have been in here, let us know!
1. Tea Shop Countertop, Albany, California
Vol. 3 No. 1 – February/March 2003
Back in 2003, concrete countertops were an oddity to most people, but not to residential architect FuTung Cheng, whose specialty then and now is concrete. He got a chance to showcase its abilities when he designed Celadon, a gourmet tea shop near Berkley that he co-owned with others. The establishment’s centerpiece was a cylindrical tea bar that flares at the top to provide counter space for eight patrons and a server. Cast and cured on the spot, it weighed close to a ton and measured about 8 feet in diameter, with a 43-inch hole in the center for wait staff.
Fast forward 12 years:
Celadon moved to Fourth Street in Berkley years ago and was renamed Teance. The newer gourmet tea shop is outfitted with a Cheng-fabricated tea bar twice the size of its forerunner.
2. Die Textilmacher, Munich, Germany
Vol. 15 No. 4 – May/June 2015
Situated in an industrial zone on Munich, Germany’s north side, an eye-catching building designed by architect Kurt Tillich of Tillich Architektur hosts production, showroom and office spaces for textile print and embroidery. Known as Die Textilmacher, this three-story 12,217-square-foot building has a precast concrete facade reminiscent of creased fabric. The building features folded panels that have a dark and satiny look from iron oxide pigments (anthracite) in the outer shell along with a coating to repel water.
3. Outdoor Space, Chesterland, Ohio
Vol. 10 No. 2 – February/March 2010
Gregory Mata, owner of Cutting Edge Decorative Concrete in Richfield, Ohio, enjoyed working with an enthusiastic homeowner with very deep pockets to create a backyard extravaganza involving fiber-optic lighting, a cabana, pool, outdoor kitchen and a fire pit. The project, which was completed in Ohio in 2009, has consistent design elements throughout but a unique decorative concrete feature every 10 to 20 feet, as nothing standard would do. A polished terrazzo interior floor from South Beach, Miami, was used as inspiration for the exterior patio. Everything about this residence was “the coolest of cool.”
4. Walkway, River Falls, Wisconsin
Vol. 7 No. 8 – December/January 2007
This striking 150-foot-long and 4-foot-wide concrete sculpture that graces a garden path on residential property in River Falls, Wisconsin, was conceived by the customer and brought to life by Nolan King, owner of King Architectural Concrete and Construction, also in River Falls. Since few concrete stamps are designed for making giant anacondas, King had to invent his own custom rubber stamps using a clay mold to establish the pattern and texture of the snakeskin. Seven shades of Scofield’s Chemstain and two coats of Diamond Glaze sealant topped it off.
5. Gold Line Light-Rail Bridge, Arcadia, California
Vol. 14 No. 7 – October 2014
The Gold Line Bridge, the first-ever artist-designed transit bridge in California, might as well be a 584-foot-long concrete sculpture. The concept, inspired by the region’s indigenous peoples and wildlife, includes precast concrete elements that form the 25-foot-tall “woven” baskets. The complex weaving patterns on the beam and the ribbed pattern on the superstructure were created using wood and rubber concrete forms crafted by Fitzgerald Formliners of Santa Ana. The bridge structure’s main serpentine underbelly features cast grooves and hatch marks simulating the patterns seen on the western diamondback rattlesnake.
6. Concrete Ribbons, United Nations Plaza, San Francisco
Vol. 14 No. 5 – July 2014
In its first renovation in 77 years, the United Nations Plaza in San Francisco was retrofitted with benches of twisting ribbons of concrete made by Quick Crete, a precast concrete manufacturer in Norco, California. The benches, conceived by sculptor Cliff Garten, have different finishes on their exposed sides, one polished and two sandblasted. The ribbons of pavement border pervious walkways made with decomposed granite.
7. Godsey House, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Vol. 14 No. 4 – May/June 2014
Concrete artists Rick Lobdell and Ryan Samford of Nashville, and John Campbell of Fayetteville, Arkansas, comprised the team of artisans who installed 4,500 square feet of high-end designs throughout the interior of a Chattanooga home. Describing the project as a dream job that forever changed their portfolios, Lobdell details how he and Campbell merged illustration and an engraved floor pattern to create a stunning 3-D pond in the billiards room. Both men have fine arts degrees.
8. Backyard Beach, Las Vegas, Nevada
Vol. 13 No. 7 – October 2013
A stamped overlay and epoxy transformed an expanse of concrete from the 1980s into a 2,600-square-foot tropical backyard beach in the desert. Successfully implemented by Randy Payette, manager of Super Stone of Las Vegas and owner of Concrete Rescue Corp., the home-based resort features a walk-in pool surrounded by a deck simulating a sandy beach and weather-worn stones. As chance would have it, the waterfalls and the rocky cliff were already there.
9. Tin Foil Stones, Cleveland, Ohio
Vol. 10 No. 2 – February/March 2010
Ryan Neal of SBR Concrete in Bedford Heights, Ohio, was hired to create an easy-to-clean and unique basement floor. He scored on both accounts with this floor made of hand-shaped rectangular “stones,” each coated with Elite Crete epoxy tinted with five different colors of Reflector Enhancer.
10. Faux Rock Grotto Cave, Shawnee, Kansas
Vol. 15 No. 1 – January 2015
Adrian Gascon of Creative Waterscapes in Ventura, California, completed this Shawnee, Kansas, job in 2001. The private backyard retreat encompasses a mountain and 25-foot-deep caverns filled with 1.8 million gallons of water. Different openings in the caverns lead divers through to a swimming pool with fiber-optic lighting and precious jewels embedded into the walls for scuba divers to find. The project featured a 33-foot-high waterfall inside the grotto with radiant-heat tubing in the rockwork, which was 40 feet high to the ceiling. A lounge area had six 60-inch plasma TVs and seven whirlpools — four of them designed for use by NBA college stars who were more than 7 feet tall.