Built in the late 1950s, Bhojwani Tower was designed by Albert Anis, known for his Art Deco architecture throughout Miami. Originally a bank, the Bhojwani operates as a mixed-use building with residential and retail areas. When beginning the renovation process, Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design not only had to consider updating the building’s exterior to stringent building codes but also meeting the requirements of the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board. 

Due to hurricanes, South Florida’s coastal areas fall into the High Velocity Hurricane Zone. Miami-Dade identified that it isn’t wind and rain that causes the most damage in strong storms; it’s exterior building pieces that come loose and become projectiles during extreme conditions. Therefore, the International Building Code does not allow anything larger than 3 square feet to be attached to the outside of a building because the adhesives used would cure before the cladding pieces are properly placed—especially in the area’s warm climate. In addition, the architect specified the panes to be bonded to the building. That required a flattening of the substrate to 1/8-inch every 10 feet, which turned out to be a very expensive option. 

To meet all code and preservation requirements, the Kobi Karp design team specified Crossville’s I Naturali collection of gauged porcelain tile panels to cover the exterior walls of the Bhojwani Tower. The team also advised Miami-Dade County officials that the Crossville material would meet stringent building codes and come in on budget if mounted with a cladding system by HyCOMB USA.

The HyCOMB USA team worked with D&B Tile Distributors to deliver the solution for installation of Crossville’s gauged porcelain tile panels for this project.  

Daniel Slain, director of new business development, HyCOMB USA, explained that the company’s system works with Crossville’s surfacing solution because of the unique backing configuration and proven performance during testing for extreme conditions.

“We have a honeycomb backer that is .75” thick. We bond the gauged porcelain tile panels to our core. To comply with the code (for the High Velocity Hurricane Zone), HyCOMB panels were tested by shooting a 2″x4″ at 50 fps at our panels while sustaining minimal damage but remained intact.”

Crossville’s panels are 1M x 3M and relatively simple to work with for experienced installers who have received training with the material. The bonding of the tile panels to the HyCOMB USA core offers efficiencies. 

To direct bond, it would require more time because each row would have to set for a day. Our panels are independent of each other and held in place by mechanical fasteners. They do not rest on the layer below. On normal size stone panels we would need a five-man crew. With the Crossville porcelain tile panels, we use three people and produce twice the square footage each day.”

Another major advantage of using the Crossville tile panels is the weight compared to other cladding options. These panels are light enough in weight to be handled by fewer workers. This is important to note for the Bhojwani project because of its location on a busy street corner in the heart of the tourist district. If the architects had specified natural stone, the project team would have faced more time-consuming challenges and safety issues. With the porcelain panels, the three-man crew was able to lift the tiles through the scaffolding and put in place using HyCOMB’s fastening system—reducing both time and risk factors for the project during installation.

Bhojwani Tower Renovation


Installation Contractor:
Stoneworks of USA

Laminam by Crossville; HyCOMB mechanical fastening system

“In the past year, this technology has exploded as more design professionals and contractors become aware of what can be accomplished,” said Slain. “The concept has been around for a while but the technology of working with porcelain has improved greatly. We are now able to achieve the look we want with the impact resistance. We’re working with some of the largest quarries in America. They have come to us because they can see where this is going. Costs are lower than with natural products. Imagine this as a single piece in a bathroom shower. Easy to install and completely waterproof.”