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Study Surrounded by Beauty in this Downtown Philadelphia University Student Housing Lounge

The beginning of May brings with it graduations across the country, filled with young people ready to take on the world. Fond memories of our own university life were relived last fall when the Norstone team visited this cool installation at Drexel University featuring a large two sided fireplace adorned with our Ebony Basalt Interlocking Tile. Having worked extensively with the design firm out of Austin, TX on this project, it was great to see our work come full circle from the initial sampling, design, bidding and construction, to now installed and being used and enjoyed by the students lucky enough to call this housing complex home.

Ebony Basalt Interlocking Tile Drexel University - Lobby View

Situated in downtown Philadelphia, just across the Schuylkill River from Center City, this recently completed student housing tower feels a lot more like an upscale apartment complex in any major metropolitan area than what many of us would traditionally think of as a dormitory. With numerous cafes and eateries within walking distance, and a clean exterior facade of glass and stonework, the lobby opens up beyond the check in desk to a lounge area with the two sided smooth basalt stone fireplace serving as both a focal point as well as a natural divider of the open space. It’s hard to pull your eye away from the gas fireplace – at a long and skinny six feet in length this unit puts out a lot of attractive flames, the movement of which automatically becomes the focal point of the entire lobby area. This space also holds a billiards area with a modern lighting fixture and plenty of open seating option to either be social, or put your earbuds in and get some studying done.

Ebony Basalt Interlocking Tile Drexel University - See Though Fireplace

The opposite side of the fireplace is a sunken lounge with conversational style seating. The design team did a fantastic job of pairing the clean geometric lines of the lynia interlocking tile used on the fireplace with modern furniture and linear accents. From this side, the fireplace is really the focus of the space, and does a great job commanding your attention. From the unique twin cut outs on either side, to the large TV, to the modern and eye catching linear gas see through fireplace, this project packs a lot of punch in a small area.

Ebony Basalt Interlocking Tile Drexel University - Gas Fireplace

One of the things we like the most about this product is the subtle texture that it creates on the wall. This view of the fireplace, taken to show some of the light coming in from the street level floor to ceiling windows shows some of that texture. This product creates movement with its interlocking pattern, calibrated color variation, and just enough dimensionality to look really outstanding on a wall. That dimensionality can be hard to detect in a photo, especially taken straight on, which is why we like this image so much.

Ebony Basalt Interlocking Tile Drexel University - Bold Color Accents

One final thing that we enjoy about this project is the design team’s liberal stance on using color. While the dark ebony color of the basalt interlocking tile goes well with the grey wood plank style flooring, and the predominantly grey base color of the walls, the use of in your face colors like the yellow accent wall deep pink pass throughs on either side of the fireplace bring a lot of life to the room. Designing with those colors can be a challenge in a more conservative residential application, but the temporary and shared aspect of this student housing lounge makes them a perfect foil for the darker tones on the fireplace and flooring.

This spring we salute the students who get to call this place home and hope that some of these bright young minds might have seen our tile, gained some inspiration, and will go out and do great things in this world.

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Norstone's New Dimensions in Natural Stone blog aims to discuss design themes, sources of inspiration, and how the world around us influences our creative interpretation and buying preferences.

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