Report from Saint-Gobain's International Gypsum Trophy Competition
As we enter this ancient brick façade building that appears to have been built in the 16th century, we’re led to the downstairs. It looks like a cellar, and without any natural light on this floor, it might as well be catacombs. Piles of cheese, blood sausage, duck, Angus beef and hamburgers that look to be five pounds each are placed in front of us, the tall pints of fresh beer just keep coming. Here we are; several North Americans out of our natural surroundings in this foreign land yet altogether comfortable. After all, these companies are competing as the American and Canadian respective nominees in Saint-Gobain’s exotic and choice Gypsum International Trophy Awards ceremony in Prague. It has to be said, in the present context of this moment, life is good. The next night, the contractors in our company will find out if their respective and choice awards will be named top honors. If these companies hold any trepidation or anxiety about the event, we wouldn’t know. Everyone seems to be having a good time.
And why not, because in the words of Saint-Gobain’s Claude-Alain Tardy, these companies and individuals are among an exclusive group of international peers competing in the “drywall Olympics.” This writer considers that in the eyes of each of the three North American contractors here, the honor’s already been established to get the invite to travel this far and it seems to these people that the experience is really just as important.
Truly a unique event geared with an emphasis on contractors that do exceptional work with gypsum board, the event aims to recognize and reward the craftsmanship of drywall and plastering contractors for their innovative use of sustainable, lightweight and standard board applications. The contractors must first participate in a round of regional and national events that are organized by Saint-Gobain Gypsum entities (in North America, which would be CertainTeed Gypsum).The winners are then invited by the subsidiary to participate on the international platform.
This year’s Gypsum International Trophy Awards ceremony took place June 3-5. With more than 90 contractors from 35 different countries, 14 winners were named June 3 in the Czech Republic’s largest city. Walls & Ceilingswas the American press liaison in attendance, joining a couple dozen journalists from around the world.
Three North American contractors competed for top honors in these categories. (PARIC Corp. of St. Louis; Oregon Interiors of the Portland area, and; Tartan Interiors of Halifax, Nova Scotia.)
Contractors competing in the event were placed under the following six categories:
- Innovation and Sustainability
- Education, Healthcare and Hospitality
“The three projects, selected from several regional nominees, clearly embody the spirit of the competition; promoting and celebrating drywall craftsmanship and skill. They demonstrated unique architectural design that required innovative product and application solutions. This is in keeping with Saint-Gobain’s vision to be the reference for sustainable habitat,” says Steve Hawkins, vice president of sales, Gypsum U.S.
Oregon Interiors, located in Clackamas, Ore., has been providing professional construction services through Oregon and the Pacific Northwest for over fifty years. Their services include, but are not limited to, steel stud framing, drywall, light demolition, insulation, and acoustical grid ceilings for residential and commercial construction.
The Breathe Building in Portland was designed to be the most sustainable wellness and community center in the United States. The project is the first commercial building in the Northwest built to the Earth Advantage Silver Certification, a third-party green building standard that stresses the importance of sustainable products and a building’s impact on the environment and its community. The building was designed with an emphasis on occupant comfort, energy and water efficiency, IAQ, and use of recycled and responsible material.
Accordingly, the materials were vetted to identify and avoid potential toxins and utilize local manufacturers, suppliers and contractors. AirRenew Drywall, CertainTeed’s board that actively removes formaldehyde, was an approved product and installed throughout the building due to its Declare Label and close plant proximity.
This St. Louis general contractor was founded in 1979 and specifically has a drywall division. It is one of the largest privately held companies in the Midwest. PARIC specializes in both commercial and residential projects such as senior living, urban redevelopment, hospitality, academic, and interior specialty projects. The company is well known for its design-build, construction management, and general contracting.
The contractor manages construction projects for long-term and repeat clients ranging from universities and banks to hotels, restaurants, warehouses, and trade centers. PARIC has won multiple awards, including the 2012 RGCA St. Louis Green Business Challenge Award, Landmarks Association’s 2013 Most Enhanced Awards for three projects: The Metropolitan Artist Lofts, The Cheshire Inn, and The Flying Saucer Building (home to Chipotle/Starbucks, etc.) and has achieved LEED certifications.
PARIC has grown from one of the St. Louis region’s original true design-build firms in the early ’80s, to the fourth largest general contractor in the St. Louis region and into one of the top 200 General Contractors nationally, as ranked by ENRmagazine. Over the last decade, the business has repositioned itself by developing a more diverse range of building expertise. This range has not only strengthened the company’s ability to provide premier services locally but it has allowed the business to expand its geography creating even more growth.
“Each of our core markets has seen strong growth,” says Tim Vaughn, senior project manager with PARIC. “We have seen additional opportunities in senior living, and multi-family sectors.”
The company submitted the project of St. Louis College of Pharmacy as its project for this year’s SGGITA competition. This project is the tenth largest College of Pharmacy in America. The new academic and research building and library will help the college continue to be a global leader in pharmacy and healthcare education by providing state-of-the-art facilities for instruction, research and study. Tripling the size of its predecessor, the new building provides the space required by the college and the library. The vast array of rooms and building uses required specific needs from the walls. Products were placed in each room for optimal performance, providing improved indoor air quality and enhanced moisture and mold resistance.
Pressure to complete the project ahead of schedule to open before the start of school, the drywall installation began before the building was heavily enclosed, so extreme care needed to be taken to ensure that the drywall did not get wet. Installation during the winter months, heavy snowfall, and rain at times, also created challenges for the exterior and interior installation.
Installation of Curtain Wall fabrication: the small construction site size and location in a metropolis required changes to be made in terms of product delivery, and extreme care needed to be taken to ensure the safety of all those around.
For approximately 40 years, Tartan Interiors has served the commercial interiors market of Metro Halifax and mainland Nova Scotia with its crew of 150 professional builders, related trades people, and general contractors. Tartan Interiors is one of the leading interior contractors in Canada that specializes in drywall, acoustic ceiling units, acoustic ceiling suspension, non-load bearing wall framing, load bearing steel stud assemblies and rough carpentry.
Offering an experienced team of estimators, project managers and site foreman directing a skilled workforce, Tartan Interiors provides in-depth knowledge of the trade. During their almost 40 years of operation, the company has been involved in almost every major building project in Nova Scotia.
For the SGGITA, Tartan’s President Chris Chisholm submitted the Halifax Library project. The Halifax Library is a community center and civic landmark. A centerpiece of the Capital District of Halifax, the exterior was designed to mimic a stack of books. Built to LEED Gold standards, sustainable practices are at the core of this project. The library is truly sustainable and was built to last, adapt to the changing needs of the community, have a minimal environmental impact and support the social and cultural needs of the community.
The five story atrium consists of a labyrinth of stairs and bridges connecting the floors. Due to the high level of natural light from the skylight and glass façade, a Level 5 finish throughout the building was imperative in order to showcase the sharp lines and world class design.
“The new Halifax Central Library is the most important building to be constructed in Halifax in 50 years,” says Chisholm. “It has transformed the idea of public space, and has become the social and artistic hub of our city.”
Winners of the Event
Prior to the evening gala dinner, press and contractors had the opportunity to view the competing projects at a showcase set up in the host lodging at the Hilton Prague. Four hundred and fifty guests, including contractors, architects, journalists and Saint-Gobain employees mingled and were able to see all phases of a project at the category “stations” that had interactive displays with project details on iPads.
During the course of the ceremony, 12 awards from the six categories were presented.
The award ceremony culminated with the presentation of the Grand Prix and President’s Prize. The President’s Prize, presented by Claude-Alain Tardy, is a unique discretionary award presented to a contractor whose project reflects the Saint-Gobain Gypsum Activity’s overall strategy. This year the award was given to a contractor from a fast growing market.
The 89 projects, especially the 14 winners, showcase how high performance drywall systems and plasters, combined with skilled workmanship, provide solutions for high quality, safe, comfortable, modular and sustainable interiors across a wide variety of applications throughout the world.
Grand Prix Winner
Project: Philharmonie de Paris (France)
Contractor: Ile de France Plâtrerie
The Philharmonie de Paris opened its doors in January 2015. The Symphonic Hall is a remarkable architectural feat; an auditorium with a capacity of 2,400 seats, that immerses the audience providing a uniquely intimate listening experience. The acoustical program called for great clarity of sound combined with high reverberation, as well as significant lateral reflections. Ile de France Plâtrerie had been commissioned to realize the outer shell of the Symphonic Hall, a completely dissymmetric structure made of plaster, up to 26 meters high, 10 centimeters thick and including 5,785 cubic sound absorbers of fibrous plaster.
President’s Prize Winner
Project: J.W. Marriott (India)
Contractor: Interiors Designers
Decorators PVT Ltd
J. W. Marriot is a five-star luxury hotel. This new luxury hotel offers 585 rooms and boasts an unparalleled location in the heart of the vibrant suburb of Andheri, adjacent to the Mumbai International airport. All 585 guest rooms as well as banquet halls, spa, gymnasium and BOH areas are constructed with international standard acoustic comfort and fire safety. Gyproc drywall was adopted for all internal walls including wet area walls and value added plasterboards (e.g. fireline, moisture resistance and fiber cement board were also used).
Plaster Category Winner
Project: Gerstheim Catholic Church (France)
Contractor: Werey & Stenger
In 2011, a short-circuit in the lighting system of the Catholic Church of Gerstheim caused a disastrous fire. The community wanted to rebuild the church, identically to how it was before the fire. Werey & Stenger’s was brought in to reconstruct the ceiling, i.e. the original vaults of ogival arches. Given the complexity and size of the project, Werey & Stenger digitized their part of the project in 3-D. This was a highly innovative method which they combined with the traditional technique of fibrous plasterwork.
Plaster Category Runner-up
Project: The Whitworth Art Gallery (UK)
Contractor: CW Solutions Ltd
Founded in 1889 as the first English gallery in a park, the Whitworth has been transformed by a £15 million development. The refurbishment and extension of the historic Whitworth Art Gallery incorporated the use of two coat plaster on laths to form vaulted ceilings and curved walls. The scheme was completed over a two year period, and the plastering and dry-lining works were completed over a 14 month period. This represented a real achievement particularly as the original ceiling had to be rebuilt, an unforeseen event in the works programed.
Plasterboard Category Winner
Project: Louis Vuitton Foundation (France)
Contractor: Isolation 2000
Designed by the American architect Frank Gehry, the Louis Vuitton Foundation falls within the policy of art and culture patronage developed by the group. Each stage of construction pushed the boundaries of conventional architecture, and was one of the first BIM projects in France. One main challenge was to provide a high acoustic insulation; 71Db required with a critical frequency < 5 Hz, between the technical rooms and the public areas. The contractor had to invent a bespoke solution with self-supporting “boxes in the boxes” made of two layers of Duo’Tech 25 and using Winfix dB suspensions.
Plasterboard Category Runner-up
Project: Kempinski Hotel (Egypt)
Contractor: Maxim for Real Estate Investments
Due to the complexity of the interior design regarding shapes and levels that needed to be applied on a triple height ceiling, this project required high load bearing. As for wet areas like the spa, rest rooms and showers, moisture and fire resistance boards were the perfect solution. The advantage of the Gyproc STIL-PRIM suspended ceiling system was that it solved a technical deflection created by a local manufacturer of metal systems which was below the project standards. The suspended ceiling system provided better productivity. This helped the plasterboard contractor meet the project deadline.
Commercial Category Winner
Project: H’ugo’s Restaurant Bar Lounge (Germany)
Contractor: Heinrich Schmid GmbH
& Co. KG
In the Stuttgart city center next to the “Stuttgart 21” project (building of a new through station instead of the existing terminal) a new bar lounge was established in less than two months. This project involved an abundance of creativity as well as technical know-how concerning the necessary sound and fire protection. The optically and technically perfect results are a wonderful example of perfect craftsmanship on a 520 square meter floor. The extraordinary design of the ceiling sculpture was developed in close cooperation with the Rigips technician to provide the various technical requirements which were hidden beneath. Indirect illumination increases the unusual look and feel of the ceiling. Furthermore a 3,500 liter aquarium was built into one of the plasterboard walls. The steel substructure had to be designed to provide for its heavy weight.
Commercial Category Runner-up
Project: Raiffeisen Multi-Purpose
Center Raaba (Austria)
Contractor: Lieb Bau Weiz GmbH & Co KG
Upgrading the Raiffeisen Landesbank Styria to a new Multi-purpose Center was a huge project. With about 45,000 square meters of gross floor area, it provides modern office workplaces for more than 400 employees. With a high emphasis on aspects of ecology and sustainability, the use of photovoltaics, the utilization of the data center’s excess heat as well as the cooling system fed by groundwater meant significant savings in operational expenses. The Multi-purpose Center was awarded the DGNB Blue Building Certificate in Gold.
Innovation & Sustainability Winner
Project: Theater de Stoep (Netherlands)
Contractor: Accompli Afbouw BV
Theater De Stoep consists of two parts; a large theater hall which can accommodate up to 650 people, and a smaller room with a capacity of 200 people. The walls were designed in concave and convex forms, which cross the ceilings that are also designed in these forms. This particular design, in combination with the great height, is made possible by using the specifically engineered supporting structure. With the required finishing level, the high sound insulation and fire resistance requirements, it ensured that this was a very challenging project.
Innovation & Sustainability Runner-up
Project: Ans Public Swimming Area (Belgium)
The public swimming pool in Ans is a prime example of technological innovation. The exterior is given a streamlined look by large Saint-Gobain glass sections and the curved roof which is shaped like a wave. The well-being of users and the optimization of maintenance costs were prioritized. The use of Gyproc Aquaroc cement based plasterboards was perfect for the design, as they have a smaller environmental footprint than cement. Gestrab used them as partitions and wall linings in the reception space, changing rooms and swimming pool space.
Residential Category Winner
Project: Hochbau 21/BSC-Areal
Contractor: SA.MA Gipserei +
The 180-year-old spinning mill shut down in 1990 and is now transformed into a 23 lofts, 5 loft-type complex with working spaces and 13 studios. The main plasterboard work was applied to ceilings and partitions, as well as technical ducts. The building is Minergie certified, a renowned Swiss energy label. Among key achievements of the plasterboard work are the preservation of historical character and substance of the building, introducing a whole new form of its use, as well as the application of the high fire and noise protection standards to the old building structure.
Residential Category Runner-up
Project: St John’s College Respond! Housing (Ireland)
Contractor: Mythen Construction Ltd
This project completely refurbished a former seminary into 21 self-contained apartments for the elderly. Taking the Gothic Revivalist styled building into account, the goal was to preserve and protect the old walls, fine stain glass windows and beautiful stonework. Gyproc Partition systems incorporating SoundBloc plasterboard were used as the separating compartment walls offering optimum levels of acoustic separation while also meeting the required levels of fire resistance. Gypfloor Silent systems were installed to maintain the required level of impact sound reduction on the compartment floors.
Education, Healthcare & Hospitality Winner
Project: Hotel Schloss Montabaur (Germany)
Contractor: G+K Trockenbau GmbH
Now serving as the headquarters for the ADG, the academy of German cooperatives, the castle was first mentioned in documents in the year 959. Next to the castle is the new guest house “Coblenz”. The unconventionally designed elliptical construction body offers over two floors, 77 high-quality exclusive designed double rooms. Every room is formed differently. The generous atrium is open over two floors and is covered by a large 300 square meter glass roof. The very specific architectural ideas could only have been realized with perfectly installed drywall construction and the highest level of craftsmanship.
Education, Healthcare & Hospitality Runner-up
Project: Business Academy Aarhus (Denmark)
Contractor: C.C. Contractor A/S
The design of the building and its interior is meant to inspire students to learn in a bright and creative environment. The building, one of the first major low-energy houses in Aarhus, has 900 square meters of solar panels on the roof and a heat recovery system. The building’s energy use is completely dependent on renewable energy. The challenge was finding the right dimensions for the profiles and angles in order to hang the facade as opposed to letting it rest on the plinth. It was also constructed in sections on the ground and then hoisted and put in place.\
Largest International Gathering of Drywall Contractors
The global awards program began in Paris in 1998 with 20 projects from 15 countries that initially just competed in drywall and plastering. Since then, the project has grown and evolved, with the addition of other categories. To date, this year’s projects surpassed 2014’s event in Berlin, Germany.
- Eighty-nine nominated projects
- More than 90 contractors
- 35 participating countries
- More than 450 attendees from across 40 countries
- Fourteen winners
- Six awards categories