San Francisco-based Tsang Architecture was hired to design the building for Wing Lung Bank Ltd.’s new California branch, and the firm initially considered several design possibilities for the elliptical-shaped entry-hall. After reviewing several mock-ups, Keith Dewald of Becoming Tile of Evergreen, CO - which fabricated the tile - was commissioned to work with artist Neil Seth Levine, to create a unique 4,300-square-foot mural.
The goal of the mural design was “to create a dynamic image that would create a sense of movement and depth,” according to Levine. Due to the large-scaled curved surface, Levine felt it was necessary to have a series of shapes that led the eye up from the street and across the expanse of the building. Levine added that the design wraps all the way around the outside of an oval. “Part of the oval is interior and part is exterior,” he explained. “The left part of the flat design is the prominent inside portion of the mural.”
According to Dewald, Mosaic Tile Supplies of Cold Spring, TX, supplied 178 different colors of 3/4-inch glass tiles from its Kaleidoscope Glass Mosaic Series for the mural, and 20 colors of Le Gemme metalized glass tiles from Bisazza USA were also implemented into the design.
The architects selected glass tile because it was a minutely scaled material that could easily wrap around the ellipse-shaped facade. It was also cheaper, richer looking and more unique than using metal panels, which were originally considered. Furthermore, the metal filaments in the Bisazza tile and the Kaleidoscope glass tile glimmer in the sun and contribute a sense of movement and depth to the mural, according to the architects.
In order to properly construct the mural, a special software program was written to convert the design using sophisticated color dithering and color balance in order to create the exact instructions for each sheet’s fabrication. The program also calculated the amount of each tile color required for placing the tile orders.
Installing the Mural
Over 4,200 sheets of mural tile were fabricated, labeled, sorted by installation order and shipped to the construction site. The fabrication of the mural took nine weeks to complete, while the actual installation finished in less than four weeks.
Mural specialist Glenn Harris of World Class Pools of Honolulu, HI, was in charge of installing the mural, and he used MegaLite™ Crack Prevention Mortar from Custom Building Products, as he needed a mortar that would bond glass tile on a vertical surface.
According to Vivek Anand, project designer with Tsang Architecture, “Neil introduced incredible colors, branching foliage and swirling shapes to make the mural into a work of art wrapped around the entrance to the bank and the rear of the elliptical entrance hall which is visible from the banking hall.”
Overall construction was completed in time for the bank’s opening ceremony in March 2006. The project recently received a First Prize 2007 Spectrum Award.