Banking on Bostik for a vibrant outdoor mural
Little Havana is perhaps the most well known district for Cuban exiles in the entire world. Characterized by its street life, charming restaurants, upbeat music and great warmth amongst its residents, in 2017 Little Havana was declared a national treasure. About that same time, a mosaic treasure was added to the neighborhood.
TD Bank has a prominent location right in that great part of Southern Florida. To blend in with the community’s “look,” an outdoor bank patio was recently constructed that included one of the most interesting and colorful on-ground mosaic murals to be found anywhere. Even more attention-grabbing — this mosaic masterpiece was created using high-tech, state-of-the-art robots.
Christina Sprows, a LEED® Green Associate, is an architect working for Enterprise Real Estate for TD Bank. She stated, “The bank owned the property, but because they were downsizing the building to a 2,500 square foot facility, that left a large empty “lot” on the premises. Little Havana city officials recommended building a “trellis” area as a parkway to cover that area. The committee knew what they wanted to do, so a request for proposal/RFP was immediately sent out to local artists. That’s when they met Santos E. Mendez.
The RFP outlined the following parameters for this trellised parkway:
- The main concept was to maintain the culture of the area
- The parkway artwork needed to be put together using durable material that could stand up to the rain/wind/heat of Miami
- All creative efforts had to be coordinated in conjunction with civil engineers. This included landscaping, lighting and much more
- The pathway was to connect the street to bank — drawing in guests
- The proposed theme was to be emblematic of the Little Havana Community — how it is inspired by its Cuban culture
The mosaic to be produced was based upon an original painting provided by Mendez entitled “Myaamia”. Some background: Myaamia is a Native American Algonquian language spoken by the Seminole Indians that translates to “allies” or “friends” — after which the Miami River was named. Mendez’s one-of-a-kind artwork, created specifically for this site, reflected harmony and friendship among all living creatures — including a variety of cultures.
Artist Santos Mendez was the eyes/ears of the project. He came up with the amazing mural design, which was unanimously given “thumbs up” by all officials involved. The next step was to find the right company to bring his design to life. Not surprisingly, Artaic Innovative Mosaic was selected. An unique company, in less than a decade the firm had achieved almost cult status via designing and fabricating award-winning tile-work by creating architecturally compelling mosaics via its proprietary American-made robotic production. “Without question, this was the mosaic firm we wanted!” exclaimed Sprows.
While the mosaic production was as modern as could be, the approval process was very much traditional. Artaic needed to perfectly match the artist’s color selections — and he insisted on approving every single mosaic tile chosen. Sprows added that Artaic’s team was very responsive and attentive to this demanding regimen.
“The project was shipped as a pre-fitted, ready to install kit of one square foot sheets directly from the factory and was completed by Professional Flooring Contractors of Coral Springs, Florida. It was very easy to do with the templates Artaic provided,” continued Sprows. “I loved the idea that the tile used was sintered glass made from 100% recycled windshields.
Sharon Carlson of Professional Flooring Contractors added, "This project is one that our team is very proud of. We worked side-by-side with Steve Price of Bostik in creating ‘just the right prescription’ for this type of installation. As an installer, it is very important to have the right installation materials for the job, which is why we worked directly with the manufacturer. Steve basically wrote the script for this.”
“Mother Nature was the only issue that we had with the installation of the glass mosaics. She was responsible for the only “downtime” that we had with installing the products,” continued Carlson. “Both the Bostik and Artaic teams were very knowledgeable and accommodating. You need a good team when working with custom mosaics. We had that with Bostik and Artaic along our guys in the field.”
The actual mural’s size was 730.9 square feet, incorporating 404,800 uniquely placed tiles. Artist Santos Mendez hand selected 24 colors from a palette of 129 available colors. The sintered glass mosaics were installed using Bostik’s Diamond Dimension® RapidCure™ grout, and Bostik’s Reflex® ultra-premium polymer-modified thin set mortar. “These products are easy to use and will perform forever,” added Carlson.
Santos Mendez was pleased to be part of the area’s most recent development, as he has seen it grow for over 50 years. The artist not only wanted his artwork to impart a feeling of the surrounding area of Little Havana, but also wanted to make sure it represented all of Southern Florida from the elements to the animals and of course, to the people, all of which he included in his painting.
The original painting submitted was 40" x 20". Santos was absolutely amazed at the technology utilized in the creation and production of the mural and its subsequent installation. He stated, “It was so easy for my art to be transcribed into something so large — without losing any details. We went from canvas, to computer, to paper, to glass mosaic to perfect installation”. We never lost any perspective of the project.”
The final mosaic artwork itself, allows visitors to walk around the entire perimeter and the images seem to move along with you. It was the artist’s intention that his images “rotate” as one walks around them.
If you ever venture into the Little Havana district and see a TD Bank sign, it may be worth your while to walk over and see this amazing outdoor mural firsthand. It will be hard for you to believe that the beautiful mosaic artwork you’ll be witnessing — was actually produced using futuristic robots, and put in place using the world’s most high-tech installation systems.