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University of San Francisco Case Study: A look at the usage of the Avonite Wet Wall System

Posted on 29 October 2012 by cradmin

Avonite wet wall CS picIn fall of 2011, first-year students selected to live in Phelan Residence Hall were welcomed by a long-awaited change. As the oldest operating hall on campus since 1955, it’s one of the most popular for young student placement, but was also one of the most unlivable.

The most anticipated renovation was that of the bathrooms. Many Phelan residents were disturbed by the overall cleanliness. “I didn’t like Phelan because of how dirty and smelly it was. I remember in the shower, I would stay in the middle because I was disgusted by touching the walls,” said junior Philip Sy.

The massive scope of work included gutting the interior structure, building a new entrance, and adding seismic reinforcements to the exterior. All of this had to be done in just eight weeks.

This challenge went to the design and construction team of Oculus Architects Inc. and Turner Construction. Avonite® reps Priscilla Miranda & Lisa Meenan had visited Oculus and highlighted the advantages of the Avonite® wet wall system. Solid surface walls were already being considered for the showers, but when Steve Connelly of Oculus learned that the Avonite® wall panels came in 60-in. widths, he began to consider covering all the wet area walls with the Avonite® product. The wall panels could be installed faster than tile and would last longer. However, Turner Construction wondered if it had been done before.

Fischer Tile was just finishing a similar installation at the Veterans Administration Medical Complex (VAMC) in Palo Alto, Calif. Fischer Tile ordered 60-in.-wide panels and custom heights of 108 and 105 inches. Mike Betschart of Turner Construction was introduced to John Salmon of Fischer Tile and allowed to tour the VAMC installation site. Turner was impressed with the clean look of the panels and the quality workmanship. Betschart decided this was the solution he was looking for, but was concerned about the products being ready in time. The owner and designer wanted a color called Cordoba, which is not one of the standard wall panel colors.

This presented a new twist on the timing challenge: custom size orders generally take six weeks. So, with the understanding of the customer’s constraints in mind, Aristech proceeded with the Avonite® panel production preparation so it would be ready to produce and deliver once the order came through. The anticipated order was delayed by several weeks, but once the order was placed, Fisher Tile received the custom color, custom-sized panels in just three weeks.

Then the real fun began. “We only had three and a half weeks to install more than 30,000 SF of solid surface on all of the wall surfaces,” Salmon explained. “We ended up hard seaming everything so it really looks nice. My crews were working seven 12-hour days and even had me helping Thursdays through Sundays.”

“With such a tight time frame, this job could have gone south with a delayed shipment or anything at all,” Salmon continued. “I give special thanks to our Avonite® Surfaces Regional Manager Priscilla Miranda and the production crews back at the Avonite® facility. They really pulled through on their end. After completing our second major project using Avonite® Wall Panels, I told Priscilla we love working with the 1/4-in. wall panels. They have great traits you probably really wouldn’t understand unless you had to sling as much as we have on the walls.”

For more information, go to www.avonitesurfaces.com.

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