Fashion Statement
Choices Abound for Clay Tile with New Designer Colors & Blends
by Marc Dodson, editor

You see it everywhere in the West. The once familiar terra cotta color that marked a clay tile roof is giving way to unique colors and blends custom made to designer specifications for the project and architects love it. Indeed, most facelifts performed today on older structures in the West involve intricate mansards and warm colors. Designers of many newer buildings are opting for casement windows, detailed landscaping and steep-sloped roofs or mansards, many involving clay tile in a variety of custom colors in order to get just the right desired effect.

The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, pictured on our cover is an excellent example. It’s certainly not your average hotel, even by Las Vegas standards. In a city where theme hotels abound and almost become common place, the new Bellagio Hotel stands apart. Bellagio is aimed, both in scope and presentation, to impress everyone, both the well traveled and the not so well traveled, without being pretentious, stated Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Mirage Resorts, owner of the property.

The architect for the project was Mike Hong of Jarde Partnership, Venice, Calif. Hong stated that when designing the exterior, they were looking for a waterfront villa motif adjacent to the lake, and that extended into the look of the roof. Hong wanted an authentic tile with an Italian flair. We selected Roman pan rather than barrel tile and used boosters and grout to create a different look.

Hong went on to note that because of the height of the buildings in the rear, the scale would be lost with tile, so those structures were roofed with metal panels. The patina pattern was rolled on with a dye to achieve the look of aged copper. On the closer buildings using metal roofs, real copper was used. The overall composition looks good. We’re very happy with the way the whole project turned out, he added.

Jay Fisher of Olio, also located in Venice, was selected to design the color combinations and determine the character of the exterior. I wanted the buildings to be individual and look like they were constructed at different times. We kept the richer colors in the front and the lighter colors in the back to add more depth to the project. The roofing materials became an integral part of the total design, Fisher said.

Yoshi Suzuki, general manager for MCA, said that they had to overcome several issues, not the least of which was the coloring of the tiles. There were nine different blends that required a smooth transition between the colors. There couldn’t be any abrupt changes. They wanted consistent variations of the colors. Since MCA has expertise in ceramics, we could overcome these obstacles. When the designer saw our abilities, they found they could use us as a resource. We were able to go farther with the coloring than they had anticipated. Additionally, MCA has a system to design and engineer turrets using proportionally sized clay tile at a reasonable cost. There were many unique applications on this job, such as a negative turret with a Roman pan tile, Suzuki noted.

The 15,000 square foot First Hawaiian Bank in Honolulu, Hawaii, is another example of a designer clay tile roof. Mary Chung of Kajioka Yamachi Architects, Honolulu, explained her decision to choose a blend of colors from MCA Clay tile, We liked the look of the tile and the way it fit in with the rest of the building, the colors compliment the rest of the structure. We selected a custom blend of four colors. We would normally do a mockup of a roof like this to make sure the blends are correct, but we didn’t have time, so it went right on the roof. It turned out great. We’re very pleased with the mix and the way it was installed.

In addition to the two bank buildings and the Kapolei Entertainment Center, other recent examples of MCA’s custom blended tile projects include the North Shore Kauai Public Library (Weathered Green Blend).

Suzuki noted, Custom colors and Designer’s Selection is a new trend toward a stronger interest for commercial buildings in the new millennium. It’s a way for a designer to make a signature project and a wow presentation. MCA has done many other custom color blend projects throughout the United States, including the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. MCA is a leader of custom colors and blends in the clay roof tile industry and strives to assist designer’s efforts to create timeless beauty through its choices in color in blend selection.