Nicole Santella

Restoring Frank Lloyd Wright's Cherokee Red


Concrete Zen was commissioned to work on an historical project in Pittsburgh, PA. The project involved some bathroom remodeling which included matching the home's Cherokee red floors. These red floors are a signature style of Frank Lloyd Wright, and those who have designed under the same school of architecture. The house we had worked in was the Lipkind House, recognized in 1989 by Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.  The house was designed by Peter Berndtson, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. The floor was finished in 1954 by using a color hardener troweled in by concrete finishers. The control joints we cut had to match the pattern of the house, which was designed in segments of a circle - no square edges, and enlarging gradually from the epicenter of the house. These joints were cut in by using special tools designed by Engrave a Crete. The texture was completed with an overlay modified by polymers, and a mix of integral reds using steel trowels my great Uncle Dan may have used. The finish was a combination of water based concrete stain and pigmented sealers to match the worn appearance of years of wax maintenance. This step was completed by Nicole Santella, as she tuned out the distractions, myself included, and tuned into her iPod. The clients were happy, and so were we!


Concrete Zen makes the papers

Integrated Backsplash " Spectrum" Concrete Counter featured in Pittsburgh Post Gazette Integrated Backsplash " Spectrum" Concrete Counter featured in Pittsburgh Post Gazette

In the Feb.6th 2010 we were recognized by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette for our involvement with a local residential project. In the  "2009 Renovation Inspiration Contest/Large Project Runner-Up" Mark Homnyak gives credit to Nicole Santella for her Take Pride Construction/Concrete Zen contributions. I helped create the custom decorative concrete countertop in the Kitchen that featured a unique integrated backsplash at only 5/8" thick. The piece is also highlighted by special staining technique formulated specifically for this client. The custom color is reminiscent of black coffee spilling on mahogany.

Approved Concrete Sample

Nicole displays concrete counter sample Color Blending and Sheen difference between sealers as shown on this sample

Nicole displays the concrete countertop sample approved for production. The Kitchen Design includes Rich making a custom island cabinet. The countertop will include and integral sink and drainboard, recycled black glass and some ammonites as well! Great job Nikki on the infusion of colors in this sample! - B

White Concrete Countertop

100_0473 Pure White Concrete Countertop at VIA

100_0441 Profiles outlined in copper in the Dressing area at VIA

We were asked to help provide some design ideas for a local business owner in Pittsburgh. VIA is a women's clothing store located in the business district of the South Side Works in Pittsburgh PA. I had painted some  female profiles for the dressing area and the owner lined them with copper. The concrete countertop was made from Buddy Rhodes Mix and was ground to expose the recycled aggregate. We added Pigment to get the "pure white look" making sure not to exceed the pigment load for concrete.  - Nicole

Who doesn't need a breath of fresh air?

Wind Turbine Wind Turbine

Clean Air & Climate Change Policy

Working at Concrete Zen makes me feel good. Producing a green product that helps reduce energy consumption during the manufacturing process also makes me feel great about all my hard work there. Seeing that my teammates and I are not alone in our beliefs that energy effeciency is important makes me feel like its all worth it.....Why? Because the more people who focus on putting "good energy"out there, the better it is.

"...As the most readily deployable source of carbon-free electricity generation, wind power is uniquely positioned to contribute to the Global Energy solution, especially in the early years of the climate protection effort, when few other options are available.  Generating 20% of U.S. electricity from wind would be the climate equivalent of removing 140 million vehicles from the roadways.  But the potential will not be realized unless climate legislation provides an economic incentive to switch to clean energy sources."

"AWEA seeks climate legislation that includes an aggressive near-term goal, such as a 15 to 20% carbon dioxide reduction by 2020, in order to promote a near-term shift to renewable energy and get the quick start on greenhouse gas emissions reductions scientists tell us is needed.  Additional "recommendations are available in the New Wind Agenda report."

Recently, I discovered the AWEA or The American Wind Energy Association online. I stumbled accross the  great article" Clean Air & Climate Change Policy"(posted above )on their website: Hopefully it inspires you, as it does me, to keep up the good work! -Nikki

Concrete Zen travels at the speed of light

During the research and development phase of 4th quarter 2009, Concrete Zen helps graduate student Elizabeth E. develop this prototype for light transmitting decorative and structural GFRC building members. The concept for the mock up was generated by Elizabeth as part of her building plan proposal for her Capstone Class (Final Thesis class requirement for Masters of Interior Architecture Degree) at Chatham University.

gfrc mock up and finish material display GFRC mock up and finish material display