Adjacent to Market Square and the City Market in downtown Roanoke, VA, is a unique home for regional arts and cultural organizations known as Center in the Square. In 1980, this center of museums, galleries and performing venues was created to reenergize a depressed downtown area. After decades of use, the signature building needed a complete replacement of all outdated systems, as well as upgrades, in order to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Local architectural firm, Spectrum Design Architects/Engineers, was enlisted to complete the extensive renovation, which included a multi-level rooftop addition, butterfly habitat, technology garden with photovoltaic panels and a live 5,000-gallon coral reef aquarium. Large operable walls in the lobby were also designed to allow the building to extend into an adjacent plaza for larger events.


Daltile’s City View porcelain tiles
In some of the bathrooms, 9- x 18-inch sheets of Daltile’s City View porcelain tiles in the colors “Neighborhood Park,” “Village Cafe” and “District Gold” were cut and placed on the walls in vertical and horizontal formats to create a unique design. The long and thin porcelain tiles were separated with a waist-height border of blue-and-green, 2- x 2-inch square-shaped Shire mosaics from Oceanside Glass & Tile.


This mission of the new center is “to be an active participant in economic development, both locally and regionally, by helping assure the financial health of vital elements of western and central Virginia’s cultural quality of life,” according to the architects. An array of nature-inspired terrazzo designs clad the floors throughout the complex, which are complemented by different porcelain and glass tile collections from Daltile and Oceanside Glass & Tile.


The City View collection from Daltile
The City View collection from Daltile was utilized in the other bathrooms, but accented with “Gold Coast” tesserae mosaics from Oceanside Glass & Tile, which embrace slightly darker shades of gold, orange and brown.


The intricate installation required an experienced team, according to Jason Banks, assistant tile division manager of Southeast region at David Allen Company in Raleigh, NC. “The job was completed in stages,” said Banks, who served as the project manager. “We were on and off the project for a total of 14 months.”

During that time, a team of up to 10 installers helped bring the new complex to fruition. No unusual challenges were presented, but ensuring the multiple patterns of tile flowed seamlessly from space to space was of utmost importance. “Getting this information from the plans to the field and implementing the process was the biggest challenge,” said Banks.


Daltile’s Retro Rounds collection
A different design was implemented in some other bathrooms using gray, circular-shaped mosaics from Daltile’s Retro Rounds collection.


To complete the tile installation, various products from Laticrete were used, including 254 Platinum, 1500 Sanded Grout, 1600 Unsanded Grout and Hydro Ban®.

A LEED-certified project, Center in the Square is owned and operated by the non-profit organization, Western Virginia Foundation for the Arts and Sciences, and currently houses four cultural arts and science non-profit organizations in downtown Roanoke, including Roanoke Pinball Museum, Harrison Museum of African American Culture, History Museum of Western Virginia, Science Museum of Western Virginia and Mill Mountain Theatre. It was re-opened a little over five years ago in May 2013.


To continue the theme throughout the entire complex, various columns in the hallways are adorned with random-sized glass tiles from Daltile’s Maracas collection.


“I would say the best compliment I have heard was directed to the tile industry as a whole,” said Banks. “One comment was that this job had an impressive use of tile and glass as an artist’s media that melded seamlessly into the overall project.”

In addition to the recognition the Center in the Square has received from local and national visitors, the project was also acknowledged with the 2014 Honor Award from the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, Inc.

Center in the Square

Roanoke, VA

Architect: Spectrum Design, P.C., Roanoke, VA

Tile Supplier: Dal-Tile Corp., Dallas, TX (Daltile’s City View, Maracas and Retro Rounds collections); Oceanside Glass & Tile, Carlsbad, CA (Shire blend and Gold Coast tesserae)

Tile Installer: David Allen Co., Raleigh, NC

Installation Products: Laticrete, Bethany, CT (Hydro Ban, 254 Platinum, 1500 Sanded Grout, 1600 Unsanded Grout)