What a beautiful fall evening out at Westminster Plaza last night. The weather was perfect, the band was playing amidst the sound of flowing water, food trucks provided fabulous food, and good people gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the great project that will be a benchmark for many to come. What once was the Westminster Mall, is now being transformed into a community gathering hub for the City of Westminster. The plaza is just the start of the vibrancy that this land will see in the near future. The visionaries with the City noticed the value of the land and how it could create a space for the residents of their great city to come together to play, eat, live and work.
The Art of Concrete opened over a year ago and this was one of the first projects they had the opportunity to work on thanks to the team at Westminster and ECI. Kathy Piper, the lead Landscape Architect for the City came to Karen Keyes of The Art of Concrete asking her to look at the project. ECI approached her as well, saying the walls and the plaza were out of budget – do you have any ideas? That is when the collaboration between Westminster, ECI, Wenk and The Art of Concrete began on this project. Wenk designed the beautiful plaza. The design called for gorgeous granite blocks spilling water over a concrete plaza with white concrete seatwalls embracing the perimeter.
White cement is an expensive mix of concrete, so The Art of Concrete took a hard look at the possibilities of how to maintain the design intent but save the project some money. After sorting through several options including toppings and color hardeners, they presented a sample of Aggretex to the team. This option provided the white concrete aesthetic, provided an architectural finish, a durable solution, and saved the project money. Aggretex is applied wet-on-wet, which means it is applied on top of wet concrete. The majority of the wall is constructed with uncolored gray concrete, however, the top 3/8″ is finished with the specialty white concrete – providing a cost savings by not having white concrete throughout the entire structure. This approach got The Art of Concrete’s foot in the door and ECI awarded them the concrete seatwalls and the concrete plaza paving.
As the project progressed, so did the design. The plaza paving was originally going to have pieces of granite inset into the slab to provide an accent and subtle textural difference. The design team wanted this for the water feature that would be spilling over the plaza. A little texture difference added interest to the flow of the water. However, budget once again ruled, and we had to work together on different solutions out of concrete. We looked at different finishes, toppings, seeding granite, and many other ideas. But, after a meeting of the team, they decided on creating panels of varying sawcuts and stain to create the textural and visual dynamic they were looking for.
The end result is a plaza that will engage the community and bring this heart of Westminster to life. The surrounding developments are exciting and will only bring more life to Downtown Westminster. Thank you to the great visionaries at the City of Westminster and Wenk, and thank you ECI for bringing The Art of Concrete on board. And special thanks to the crew at The Art of Concrete who persevered through the many challenges that always come with decorative concrete.