Situated in the heart of Little Havana, TD Bank has a prominent location in the well-known district for Cuban exiles in Southern Florida. To blend in with the look of the community, an outdoor bank patio was recently constructed in 2017 that included one of the most interesting and colorful on-ground mosaic murals.
Christina Sprows, a LEED green associate, is an architect working for Enterprise Real Estate for TD Bank, 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 was immediately sent out to local artists. The proposal set certain parameters for the trellised parkway that included for the main concept 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 and heat of Miami; all creative efforts had to be coordinated in conjunction with civil engineers, including landscaping lighting, etc.; the pathway was to connect the street to the bank to draw in guests; and finally the proposed theme was to be emblematic of the Little Havana community and how it is inspired by its Cuban culture.
This search led them to artist Santos E. Mendez. The mosaic to be produced was based on an original painting provided by Mendez, titled “Myaamia.” Mendez was the eyes and ears of the project, as he came up with the mural design, which was unanimously approved by all officials involved. To bring the project to life, Artaic was selected, and according to Sprows, “Without question, this was the mosaic firm we wanted.” Whereas 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. “The project was shipped as a pre-fitted, ready-to-install kit of 1-square-foot sheets directly from the factory and was completed by Professional Flooring Contractors of Coral Springs, FL,” said Sprows. “It was very easy to do with the templates Artaic provided. I loved the idea that the tile used was sintered glass made from 100% recycled windshields.”
According to Sharon Carlson of Professional Flooring Contracts, this project was one that their 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,” said Carlson. “As an installer, it was 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,” Carlson went on to say. “She was responsible for the only ‘downtime’ that we had with installing the products. Both the Artaic and Bostik teams were very knowledgeable and accommodating. You need a good team when working with custom mosaics. We had that with both Bostik and Artaic along with our guys in the field.”
The mural’s size was approximately 730 square feet, incorporating 404,800 uniquely placed tiles. Mendez hand selected 24 colors from a palette of 129 available colors. The sintered glass mosaics were installed using Bostik’s Diamond Dimension RaridCure grout and Bostik’s Reflex Ultra-Premium Polymer-Modified Thin Set Mortar. Mendez was pleased to be part of the area’s most recent development, as he has seen it grow for more than 50 years. He 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 inches and Santos was amazed at the technology utilized in the creation and production of the mural and its subsequent installation. “It was so easy for my art to be transcribed into something so large, without losing any details,” said Santos. “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.