In 1986, the Dean E. Smith Center at the University of North Carolina (UNC) became the official home of the Tar Heels. As the fourth-largest college basketball arena in the U.S., it is one of the most recognized athletic venues. The 30,000-square-foot arena is named after former North Carolina men’s basketball coach, Dean Smith, who coached the team for more than 30 years, from 1961 to 1997.
Prior to the 2016-17 basketball season, the Dean E. Smith Center’s locker rooms and behind-the-scenes areas were renovated utilizing a range of installation products from Laticrete in Bethany, CT. To complete the rigorous installation, a talented team of installers from NTCA Five Star Contractor, Neuse Tile Service, Inc. in Youngsville, NC, was enlisted.
“This high-profile, NCAA locker room renovation had very tight logistics, challenges with tile availability, a demanding out-of-state design team, and a need for excellent installation performance,” said Nyle Wadford, president of Neuse Tile Service, Inc. “The result was 5,860 square feet of large-format porcelain, stone, glass and mosaic tiles with associated waterproofing and substrate preparation successfully executed in the project’s two-month time frame and available for use prior to basketball season.”
Wadford and his team were tasked with creating a functional space for the university’s men’s basketball team, complete with dining facilities, a lounge, a film room, therapy pools and locker rooms. The building also needed to embody UNC’s sport presence, since it’s continuously utilized as a recruiting tool for future athletes.
“Initial tile selections were not available to meet project parameters and deadlines, so we were called upon to find new sources for products with very narrow variance and to send hard samples out of state and wait upon approval of design team and project committee,” explained Wadford. “Our relationships with local vendors proved to be crucial in the attempt to provide options that were within design specifications, readily available in the right quantities and the right color of Carolina blue.”
A range of different-sized tiles were specified for the project, which were supplied collaboratively by Daltile in Morrisville, NC; Florida Tile in Morrisville, NC; American Olean in Raleigh, NC; Best Tile in Raleigh, NC; and Mosaic Tile Company in Raleigh, NC.
On various walls throughout the locker room, 6- x 24-inch porcelain tiles from Milestone by Florim USA’s Layer series in the color “Chalk” were utilized. The floors feature a smaller 2- x 2-inch porcelain mosaic, “Waters Edge,” from Florida Tile’s Tides collection, which was inspired by the veining of natural travertine and limestone. On the shower walls, bathroom stalls and some other walls, 12- x 24- and 24- x 24-inch polished porcelain tiles from Roca Tile USA’s Atmosphere collection in the color “Antracita” were used, which provide a nice complement to the unpolished floors. To add a pop of color, while also paying homage to the Tar Heels, 2- x 4-inch glass mosaics from Interstyle’s Glasshues series in the team’s signature baby blue color were placed on the walls of the dining room and player’s lounge. Smaller, 1-x 1-inch ceramic tile mosaics from Daltile’s Keystones collection were also employed in the spa in a similar blue color, “Waterfall,” and “Black.”
For the feature wall of the glass-encased room with the therapy pools, 4 3/4- x 15 1/2-inch strips of natural stone tile from Island Stone’s Rustic II series were applied in the color “Tropical White.” The narrow, honed tiles were stacked horizontally in a unique pattern to give a three-dimensional effect.
Because of the variety of tile types utilized, the project included mud-set installations, the use of various membranes, thinset installations on concrete and large-format glass wall tile, extensive waterproofing, the use of linear drains and pre-formed niches, and tile installations in the construction of therapy pools — and required different installation products for almost every area. “TCNA Methods F113-16, F112-16, F125-Full-16, F115-16, W202I-16, W243-16, W245-16, B420-16 and P602-16 were used,” said Wadford. “These installation methods and various Laticrete products were needed to resolve many issues before and during the construction process.”
Laticrete’s Hydro Ban waterproofing and crack isolation membrane, with its rapid curing formula, allowed multiple phases of the work to proceed simultaneously through careful coordination, according to Wadford. “The array of solutions and technology provided by Laticrete products proved to be a perfect match for this technically diverse and difficult assembly of installations,” he explained. “With a great deal of activity swirling around them, our installers superbly performed installations ranging from tile-adhered to drywall to much more difficult mud-set tile in the pools. Unique uses of conventional products also were creatively applied to allow design concepts to come to life from sketches and ideas. Multiple uses of Schluter edgings for everything from floor transitions, bullnose substitutes, mirror trims and channels for low-voltage lighting added to the creativity this project required but also to its complexity.”
In addition to Hydro Ban, Laticrete’s 4-XLT, 254 Platinum, Glass Tile Adhesive, NXT Patch, 3701 Fortified Mortar, Permacolor Select, Spectralock Pro, Latasil and Hydro Ban Preformed Niches were also utilized. From Schluter-Systems, the Schluter®-Schiene transition was used, as well as the Schluter®-Rondec, Schluter-Indec and Schluter®-Quadec edging profiles. All installation products were supplied by Florida Tile’s branch in Morrisville, NC.
Since the Dean E. Smith Center’s completion in October 2016, it has received nothing but positive feedback from students, athletes and visitors alike. “It was only through a great deal of collaboration from the entire construction team that this tightly scheduled project became a huge success,” said Wadford. “Our company was honored to be chosen to work with this talented team.”
Dean E. Smith Center at University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC
Architect: Corley Redfoot Architects Associates, Inc., Chapel Hill, NC
Tile Installer: Neuse Tile Service, Inc., Youngsville, NC
Tile Suppliers: Daltile, Morrisville, NC; Florida Tile, Morrisville, NC; American Olean, Raleigh, NC; Best Tile, Raleigh, NC; Mosaic Tile Company, Raleigh, NC (Milestone’s Layers series in “Chalk,” Florida Tile’s Tides collection’s “Waters Edge” mosaic, Roca Tile USA’s Atmosphere collection in “Antracita,” Interstyle’s Glasshues series, Daltile’s Keystones collection in “Black” and “Waterfall,” Island Stone’s Rustic II series in “Tropical White”)
Installation Products: Laticrete, Bethany, CT (Hydro Ban, 4-XLT, 254 Platinum, Glass Tile Adhesive, NXT Patch, 3701 Fortified Mortar, Permacolor Select, Spectralock Pro, Latasil, Hydro Ban Preformed Niches); Schluter-Systems, Plattsburgh, NY (Schluter®-Schiene, Schluter®-Rondec, Schluter®-Indec, Schluter®-Quadec) — all products supplied by Florida Tile in Morrisville, NC