Treanor Blog/News

Shoptalk: Terrazzo

2015-09-30 Posted By: Patty Weaver

Shoptalk—deciphering architectural and historic preservation jargon one word at a time!


a type of 16th-century Venetian marble mosaic in which Portland cement is used as a matrix (bonding agent); composite of small fragments of colored marble or other stone, embedded irregularly in cement or resin, ground and polished for a smooth finish; ); typically used in buildings for flooring, bases, borders, wainscoting, stair treads, partitions, and other wall surfaces (Source: Arthur E. Burke, J. Ralph Dalzell and Gilbert Townsend, Architectural and Building Trades Directory, American Technical Society, 1950.)


According to the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, terrazzo was first laid in the United States by Italian craftsman in 1890 in the Vanderbilt residence in New York City. Between an influx of highly skilled Italian immigrants and the invention of the electric grinder, terrazzo became the flooring of choice throughout the United States after World War I. (Source: National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, Inc., A Brief History of Terrazzo, accessed Sep. 23, 2015.)

The Catalogue and Design Book, published in 1951, presented five reasons to install terrazzo that still stand today.
Catalogue and Design Book Page 38(Source: The National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, Inc. and The Manufacturers Division Inc. of the N. T. & M. Association, Catalogue and Design Book, 3rd Edition, 1951, Page 38.)


Let’s see #4 in action. “Color and Deisgn—Terrazzo has a warmth and beauty. You may specifiy any design you wish—pictorial or geometric—in virtually any combination of colors.”

Terrazzo was used at the Kansas Masonic Grand Lodge to display the sqaure and compasses on the floor of the main entry hall.
Kansas Masonic Grand Lodge 2015


At Treanor’s Topeka office, Firehouse #5 built in 1935, terrazo was can be found throughout the first floor.
Treanor Topeka


The Catalogue and Design Book provided great design examples including this example of terrazzo used to advertise a product.
Treanor Topeka(Source: The National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, Inc. and The Manufacturers Division Inc. of the N. T. & M. Association, Catalogue and Design Book, 3rd Edition, 1951, Page 109.)

KHA: Spotlight Presentation by Treanor

2015-09-24 Posted By: Anne Dillon

Treanor had the unique opportunity to present in the exhibit hall at the 2015 Kansas Hospital Association Conference & Tradeshow. Rick Gannon, our Healthcare Principal, discussed an architect's perspective on the impact of Ebola (EVD) on the design of infection isolation room and Protective Environment (PE) rooms.

We have a new LEED Green Associate!

2015-09-15 Posted By: Birgitta Reynolds
Article Link

Immediate Opening for Interior Designer in Dallas

2015-09-10 Posted By: Birgitta Reynolds
Article Link

Progress at Texas A&M Engineering Education Complex

2015-08-25 Posted By: Birgitta Reynolds

Shoptalk: Porte-Cochère

2015-08-21 Posted By: Patty Weaver

Shoptalk—deciphering architectural and historic preservation jargon one word at a time!

porte-cochère (pronunciation)

a covered structure extending from the primary or secondary entrance of a building over an adjacent driveway that provides shelter passengers as they enter or exit vehicles; porch- or portico-like structure also known as a coach gate or carriage porch


The porte-cochère was a common architectural feature late-18th and 19th century mansions and public buildings in the United States. One example is the historic Dillon House, built 1913, in Topeka, Kan. The mansion’s porte-cochère consists of a rectangular canopy with a copper roof at the rear entrance to the main entry hall of the house.

Dillon House circa 1920This 1920s era photo of the north façade shows the Dillon House porte-cochère in its historic form. (Photo courtesy Kansas Historical Society, Kansas Historic Resources Inventory)

Dillon House 2014The porte-cochère was repaired in late 2014 during the Dillon House rehabilitation.

Dillon House 2015Original materials such as the canopy, copper roof and decorative metal were restored and an ADA compliant ramp was installed at the porte-cochère.

Dillon House 2015 The Dillon House after rehabilitation.

Capitols are perfect example of public buildings featuring porte-cocheres.

Missouri State Capitol A porte-cochere can be found on the south wing of the Missouri State Capitol.

The White House Museum, 1889, North Portico. Photo Credit: Library of CongressAnother notable porte-cochère is the White House North Portico, added to the building in 1830. (Source: The White House Museum, 1889, North Portico. Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

Shoptalk: Quoin

2015-07-09 Posted By: Patty Weaver

Shoptalk—deciphering architectural and historic preservation jargon one word at a time!


In masonry, a hard stone or brick used, with similar ones, to reinforce an external corner or edge of a wall or the like; often distinguished decoratively from adjacent masonry; may be imitated in non-load-bearing materials. (Source: Cyril M. Harris, ed., Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. McGraw-Hill, 1993.)

Types of cut stone quoins for use with brickSource: Chrales Gorge Ramsey, AIA, and Harold Reeve Sleeper, AIA, Architectural Graphic Standards for Architects, Engineers, Decorators, Builders and Draftsmen. New York: John Wiley & Sones, Inc., 1946.

Riverfront Community Center QuoinsLeft:Newly fabricated round quoins waiting to be shipped to the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth, Kan, from the fabricator, Sturgis Materials. Right: Quoin stack in the process of being replaed at the Riverfront Community Center.

Replaced rock-faced quoins.Replaced rock faced quoins at the Riverfront Community Center.

Unique quoinsUniquely finished quoins on a stone home in Alma, Kan.

Sneak Peek: 2015 Science Facility Design Symposium

2015-07-09 Posted By: Birgitta Reynolds
Article Link

See the Topeka Grain Can-ivator at West Ridge Mall

2015-06-27 Posted By: Patty Weaver

Treanor Architects participated in the 2nd Annual Topeka Canstruction competition on Saturday, June 27. The event, held at West Ridge Mall, challenged local architects, engineers and contractors to design and build creative sculptures using canned and other non-perishable food items.

The sculptures will be on display at the mall through July 24. During that time visitors can vote for their favorite piece to receive the People's Choice award. At that end of the display time, the sculptures will be disassembled and the food donated to Harvesters for distribution to those in need.

Treanor's sculpture, Topeka Grain Can-ivator, was inspired by the Cargill grain elevator located in northwest Topeka. It took 11 hours, 11 workers and 5,835 cans to build. Special thanks to those who donated to our effort:

  • JE Dunn Construction
  • Latimer, Sommers and Associates
  • Terracon
  • Smith & Boucher
  • Professional Engineering Consultants
  • Latimer Sommers & Associates
  • Hy-Vee
  • AIA Topeka


Treanor's Topeka Grain Can-ivator sculpture.Treanor's Topeka Grain Can-ivator sculpture.
Inspiration for Topeka Grain Can-ivator was found in northwest Topeka.Inspiration for Topeka Grain Can-ivator was found in northwest Topeka.
Treanor team members assemble the sculpture.Treanor team members assemble the sculpture.
Treanor team members assemble the sculpture.Treanor team members assemble the sculpture.
Treanor team members assemble the sculpture.Treanor team members assemble the sculpture.
A look inside the work of art.A look inside the work of art.
Taking a break from building for a quick photo op.Taking a break from building for a quick photo op.

Details make the building

2015-06-16 Posted By: Patty Weaver

What gives a historic building its defining character? It may be the era, the type of building—but often, it’s what’s inside that captures the imagination.

While some buildings are purely functional, for many of our country’s oldest buildings, the purpose is larger, and this story is told through the details and finishes of their interiors. Government buildings were intended to convey the importance of democracy. Libraries were intended to make learning accessible to all. Our cities’ most iconic buildings carry a sense of community history.

Architectural details at the Dillon House

They are treasures of metal work, marble, intricate plaster details, decorative painting and ornamental trims. A grand staircase. Fine wood wainscoting. Intricately painted murals.

For example, entering the Oklahoma Capitol Building, which will undergo interior restoration beginning in 2016, a visitor is greeted with open rotundas connected by marble staircases, a space of luxe materials and intricate detail.

During the building’s construction, The Daily Oklahoman described it this way: “Visitors are now able to comprehend in an imaginative way the wonderful architectural beauty of the edifice as it will be when completed, especially as they stand on the basement floor at one of the entrances.  The Oklahoma Capitol will invite future visitors with an impression of monumental loftiness.”

“In a historic building, a lot of thought was put into details that you are seeing from 100 feet away— shadows, highlights, one extra stroke of metallic finish that creates the perception of depth on a wall,” says Todd Renyer, architect with Treanor Architects Preservation studio. 

Playing historic detective. Interior preservation isn’t just restoring what is worn or has suffered neglect over time. It means uncovering details and design features that building owners might not be aware of—those hidden under a coat of paint, dropped ceiling or modern “update.” It may also mean reconstructing original details that have been removed or repairing well-intentioned “fixes” from the past.

Historic photos, floor plans and documentation are a good place to start, along with physical exploration of the building itself. Detective work may involve nondestructive or destructive investigative techniques, from removing cover plates and lights to creating an exposure window to remove paint one layer at a time.

Architectural details at the Kansas Statehouse

Testing can help to determine the condition and age of finishes and a path to restoration. Historic metals, for example, tarnish over time; they may need gentle cleaning and new lacquers or protective layers. Copper-plated cast iron or painted metals can be damaged by corrosive housekeeping processes or age, and may need tinted lacquer or waxes to restore their appearance. Marble floors often have scratches and chips, and need partial repair or full restoration.

Old light fixtures can be brought up to standard by repairing internal parts and using catalogue reproduction fixtures. Cracks in plaster, from time or electrical installation, can be patched and blended. Crown molding damaged by water and decorative paint techniques can be recreated.

Sometimes, you find more than expected. At the Kansas Statehouse, workmen repairing a leaky ceiling in the House of Representatives chambers revealed a hidden mural. When test scrapes showed there were actually four murals, a full-scale art restoration began, says Jeff Russell, who served as Kansas’ legislative services director at the time.

“It is the interior beauty of this building that is the showstopper, and with this restoration, we honor the building, its history and the work that happens there,” says Russell. “In a building like this, perhaps you’ll stand a little straighter and listen a little more. It takes people’s breath away.”

Choosing what to restore. Historically, the more opulent and high quality finishes, such as metals, marble and oak, were used in public spaces, with private spaces finished in simpler materials. “Today, we do the same and often spend money where most people would see it,” says Renyer. “We start with classification of spaces by historic significance. The highest level of integrity rises to a higher level of preservation. Lower significances are not treated with the same rules.”

It’s a careful dance between what historic standards require, the level of importance of individual features, the budget and additional project goals. In restoring the Dillon House, a prominent Topeka mansion, for its corporate headquarters, real estate development firm Pioneer Group (Topeka, KS) wanted to showcase its historic rehabilitation work, as well as create offices and hospitality spaces for the growing company.

“We wanted to achieve a thing of beauty,” says President Ross Freeman, who chose the building in part because he felt a personal connection to it and its creator. That required an investment in the building’s rich finishes, from oak hardwood floors and fireplaces in the upstairs offices to the grand staircase and a library of stained glass windows featuring English authors and poets. “When they cleaned those windows for the first time in 104 years, the colors came alive,” Freeman recalls.

History as identity. Often, historic details can take on a life of their own—inspiring private building owners and public citizens alike. They may even become part of a brand identity for the building occupant.

That’s what happened in Pittsburg, Kansas, where a restoration and expansion of the community’s Carnegie library revealed the historic significance of its Prairie architecture. Today, those distinct Prairie details are a part of the library’s identity— appearing on its letterhead, signage and throughout daily library life.

When viewed through the lens of history and preservation, paying close attention to interior finishes is an opportunity to revive the context of our historic buildings and pass that on to future generations. The end result is more than a decision to repair an alabaster railing, reclaim a painted rotunda or find room in a budget for hardwood floors.

“A state capitol, for example, was never meant to be ‘just a building.’ It’s a piece of art and a showpiece for our state. It is our front door to the world,” says Trait Thompson, project manager for Oklahoma’s Capitol Renovation. “In restoring it, you’ve just saved an integral part of your culture.”

COMING SOON: We’ll be taking an in-depth look at some of the interior finishes that define our most treasured historic buildings. Watch for future emails to help you make the most of yesterday’s interiors.

ALSO READ: Investing in the past for the future