Implementing an artistic vision – especially one inspired by a famous architect like Frank Lloyd Wright – demands exceptional skills in addition to the ability to innovate. In the mid-1970s Sundt did just that – and won an American Concrete Institute “Excellence in Concrete Formation” Award – for its approach to a four-story, 88-room addition to the famed Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.
The project was the first major addition to the resort since it was opened in 1929 after being designed by one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s protégés in his signature style.
Sundt’s challenge was to match the exterior finish on the addition to the building’s existing exterior finish, without disrupting hotel guests.
After determining that individually cast blocks would be impractical, our team developed an ingenious system of precast panels to match the existing blocks. Using Frank Lloyd Wright’s original sandcast aluminum molds, the team prepared a duplicate set of fiberglass molds in Sundt’s manufacturing facility in Tucson. The molds were then arranged in panel frames on a casting bed at the site. After casting and curing, the panels were lifted into place to form the exterior finish.
The cement and sand for all of the panels was purchased at one time and warehoused to ensure consistency of color and texture throughout the building exterior. The fiberglass molds were separated by plastic dividers of varying thicknesses in order to give the panels the appearance of individually hand-set block.
Our innovative approach protected a key feature of Phoenix’s built environment: the “Jewel in the Desert.” It’s impossible today to distinguish between the original, individual blocks and the cast panels created during the expansion.
Talley Industries of Arizona
Arizona Biltmore Hotel Paradise Wing Addition