Vertical Challenge

In collaboration with Hansen Turner Architects, Lavada Inc. designed, fabricated and installed this concrete cladding for Robusta Espresso Bar in Manhattan. Above and below the espresso bar counter are thin sheets of textured concrete anchored by plywood rib contours and aluminum z-clips. Co-owner of Lavada Inc., Perry Randazzo, estimates the total weight of the concrete panels to be between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds. To create these light and thin panels, 10,000 psi cement mix was combined with sand and perlite, a lightening agent that works to displace the weight of the concrete. Nycon PVA fibers were also used as a replacement for steel reinforcement to eliminate cracking and excess weight.

The design of the espresso bar was inspired by the textural elements of the concrete material. “Working with the architect we were looking for something that worked at different scales so it had varying degrees of texture as you approach it. Concrete is probably the only material that can do that, that can have a texture at 50 feet and then a totally different texture when it is right in your face,” Randazzo says. The panels were painted red on one side and gray on another to enhance this concept of changing perception.

Randazzo believes this espresso bar piece has helped the coffee shop to develop an identity and increase the probability of consumer attraction to the shop. “I would like to think that it draws people into the station. It’s a corner location downtown and I think that when you walk by it definitely grabs your attention,” he says.