top of page

Partnerships are the secret to successful public art projects

Any design challenge begins with a message to be communicated and a set of constraints that must be considered. When an artist’s canvas is a terrazzo floor in a building where that artist works, the message options can be endless and very personal, and the constraints can seem stifling until creativity takes over and you meet your very capable installation partner at Advance Terrazzo and Tile.

A very personal design challenge

Artist Barbara “Bebe” Keith was up for a challenge. The Minnesota native shares that her design work for public television station KSMQ in Austin, Minnesota was a labor of love. The station was moving its operations from a building one mile out of town to a new stand-alone building in downtown Austin and asked her to take on the design of a custom terrazzo floor. As host of the KSMQ-produced show “Off 90” which explores art, history, and culture in southeast Minnesota, Keith and her colleagues are now personally enjoying the new space.

“The opportunity to design this floor was a real treat. It tells stories about the people and places of my community and honors the role of KSMQ in making this a great place to live.” – Barbara "Bebe" Keith, terrazzo artist

When asked about her team’s reaction to the finished floor, she commented “Everyone was very excited to experience the new building, but we were all surprised that the new floor would be such an attention-getter – that you can do so much with terrazzo.”

The design process started with sketches that bring to life the “Nature and Communication” theme chosen by the station. The initial plan for terrazzo in the entry area of the new building quickly evolved to durable, beautiful, and cost-effective terrazzo through hallways and common areas of the space. A coyote in one hallway in howling posture – a second coyote in another hallway in listening posture. Rural and city roads connecting farmlands and homes modeled after the actual homes of people who work at the station. Fish in ribbons of streams and birds soaring against bright skies. A TV tower in the center radiating circles unifies the entire design.

Engineering and fabricating the floor mural

The hand-off from artist to fabricator and installer can feel precarious for the artist, but Keith had complete faith in her engineering and fabrication counterparts. Aaron Metzger, Project Manager at Advance Tile and Terrazzo knows that his role is to bridge the artist’s vision with the needs of the construction plan, and he uses Creative Edge products and services to make it happen.

“The challenge when you do an art project is getting the space and time you need to properly complete the detail work – and having 10 other trades working around you makes it extra challenging.” – Aaron Metzger, Advance Terrazzo and Tile

When asked if he has any secrets for managing the process, he shared “Creative Edge’s TerrazzoTek system eliminates the need for prep like chalk lines and intricate measurements and gives us ready-to-install metalwork which really accelerates the job.”

Advance Tile and Terrazzo used the TerrazzoTek system by Creative Edge to complete the project.

Metzger was very pleased with his choice to partner with Creative Edge to make sure that quality could co-exist with budget and time constraints. He ordered StencilTek from Creative Edge to transfer Keith’s design to the subfloor and facilitate the installation of hand-bent metal strips. The prefabricated FrameTek cut metal shapes from Creative Edge perfectly replicated the animals, foliage, TV tower, and structure detail in the design. When asked about the experience of partnering with Creative Edge, Metzger shared “even with Covid and supply chain issues, quality and turnaround time for everything they delivered was fantastic. The Creative Edge team aims to please.”

After painting StencilTek cut-outs to define the design on the sub-floor, the Advance Tile and Terrazzo team worked their magic with just 10 colors of terrazzo – 2 shades of blue, 4 shades of green, plus white, pink, purple, and a sparkly blue shade all strategically selected with the help of their artist-partner and mixed by the experts at Terrazzo and Marble Supply Company.

Protecting the terrazzo while construction continues

On any construction site, controlled chaos is the norm until after move-in day. Even though finished terrazzo is virtually indestructible, the movement of people, tools, materials, and equipment over an in-process or recently completed terrazzo floor can cause costly damage. StencilTek is made of large, durable ¼” corrugated plastic sheets that snap together like a puzzle, offering a cushioned surface that can stand up to foot and vehicle traffic and the errant thud of a dropped Sawzall or other power tools.

A by-product of ordering StencilTek to transfer the design is created when the same stencils are placed over the floor to protect it while construction workers scurry around on top of it. Metzger shares how helpful this can be.

“StencilTek is really a dual-purpose product. It’s invaluable for prep and layout of the design, and we also use it to cover the floor during and after installation to protect it from damage by the construction workers and their equipment who were working in the space for weeks after the floor is done.” – Aaron Metzger, Advance Terrazzo and Tile

Terrazzo floor unifies the space and the community

Like many public TV stations, KSMQ began with limited educational programming and is now a professional television outlet with locally produced programming serving 655,000 households in the region. Their new building, anchored visually by the “Nature and Communication” terrazzo floor, is a beacon for their brand and their mission. The floor design informed architectural finish choices throughout the building which collectively inspire the creative work of their team of broadcast and business professionals.

Creative Edge is grateful for the opportunity to use our skills and equipment to make this work of art possible. Welcome to your new space KSMQ!



We'd love to help you do more with floors in your space


bottom of page