Certified flooring installation brings a Crayola attraction to life.
Crayola, best known for its iconic crayons and markers, recently expanded the brand’s Crayola Experience attractions. Located in the Mall of America, Bloomington, MN, the newest location follows in the footsteps of the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA (the home of Crayola crayons since 1903) and Crayola Experience Orlando, and takes inspiration from the brand’s 1,500 proprietary products and technologies.
The Minnesota attraction opened in May 2016 and features 25 hands-on activities and live entertainment across 60,000 sq. ft. of colorful, unique rubber flooring from Gerflor, Bensenville, IL, and Tandus Centiva, Dalton, GA. The story behind specifying and installing the flooring, which needed to withstand foot traffic of 250,000 to 400,000 guests, rolling-load traffic, spills, flying crayons, markers, and other stain-causing items, is as impressive as the finished attraction.
General contractor PCL Construction Services Inc., Burnsville, MN, approached Sonus Interiors Inc., Minneapolis, to install the flooring based on the company’s status as an INSTALL Warranty Contractor (with a 100% INSTALL-certified workforce). INSTALL, the International Standards and Training Alliance, is an alliance of major flooring manufacturers, contractors, and professional installers across the U.S. and Canada. It consists of a comprehensive training and certification program for its floorcovering installers. As an INSTALL Warranty Contractor, Sonus team members have taken a variety of installation and training courses, and the company is in the process of sending all members to the group’s International Training Center in Las Vegas to take the leadership course.
PCL Construction also selected Sonus based on the mall’s unique installation challenges, which presented a number of issues throughout the construction process. From uneven subfloors to a complex installation that required intense heat welding of curved, custom-cut rubber flooring, Sonus was the ideal partner.
Ironically, the brand new Crayola Experience is located in the oldest part of the mall. What was once part of a corner pillar store (the original Bloomingdale’s) was emptied and stripped in anticipation of the build-out. The design called for a smooth subfloor and when the Sonus team arrived, they found an epoxy substrate under the original floor. Realizing that the floor could not be installed directly over the epoxy, the team recommended applying a topcoat to the entire floor. Mall officials, however, recommended they remove the epoxy completely. As some areas of the epoxy were thick and others were thin, this was a time-consuming task.
In addition to the installation challenges, the teams had to specify flooring material and finishes that protect against fading. Natural light, which enters through several skylights and windows, is prevalent in roughly 15% to 20% of the space. There are also projections that appear on the floor that necessitated additional protection.
Another challenge was working around Crayola’s own fixture team. The team from Sonus had to turn over spaces quickly, which were then exposed to heavy rolling loads, as large fixtures and branded items were brought in for installation.
Yet another unique installation challenge came in the playground area. Originally, a honeycombed rubber tile with high-strength glue was specified. However, this meant that the tiles couldn’t be pulled up to clean. With thousands of children using the space every week, the installation was altered to a more interchangeable product better suited to cleaning and disinfecting needs.
Three months and 1,600 man-hours later, the Crayola Experience at the Mall of America is finished and open to the public. All of the seams from color to color and through curves and radiuses line up. One seam will go all the way across multiple colors, with no visual distraction.
“Overall, this was a challenging job. However, thanks to the experience of our INSTALL-certified installation team, open communication, and great partners…the end result is something we can all be proud of,” said Jeff Rothi, vice president of Sonus Interiors Inc. “As the first INSTALL Warranty Contractor in the Twin Cities market, our training and communication experience helped the entire process come together. For a job of this scale, everything went as smoothly as possible,” he added.