The architect of the new Highland Park Community Church facility in Casper, Wyoming was seeking a versatile, customizable countertop surface. He found it with concrete countertops.
Gary Berchenbriter, concrete countertop artisan and owner of GB Building & Design, had just 2 days to bid the very large project: 450 square feet of reception desk and water feature, two large fireplace hearths, coffee bar and security desk. The client used multiple looks ranging from swirls of color to exposed glass and metal. Gary was able to show examples and samples of all the various desired looks and won the job.
After bidding in November 2009, casting concrete started in June 2010 and proceeded in stages until the final installation in December 2010. Gary accomplished all this with himself and two part-time helpers. He had to make very efficient use of his 2400 sq ft shop, and build an additional casting table to handle the job. “This project really forced me to think through my shop organization,” says Gary.
Swirls of GFRC Accent the Welcome Desk
The reception area and two hearths used a swirled look that was challenging to reproduce. Gary had first created this look using two different colors of GFRC mist coat hand swirled in the forms. Consistency of the mix was an important factor in recreating this look, and Gary found that later he had to swirl the two colors in a bucket and then pour them into the forms. Whatever the technique, the outcome was striking.
Water feature behind the welcome desk
The welcome desk
Concrete Ties Together the Design in the Coffee Bar
For the coffee bar area, the architect used the concrete bartop to tie together the looks of the corrugated steel and red accent walls. Gary placed galvanized wire and recycled red glass in the forms, then poured GFRC mist coat over it, then placed the backer coat.
Some voids developed around the galvanized wire as the concrete cured, so Gary filled them in with a darker charcoal gray grout that further accented the embedments.
Closeup of steel and glass embedments in coffee bar
Curved bartop for coffee shop
Fireplace Hearths Serve as Gathering Places
Two massive fireplace hearths 18 feet wide and 21 feet wide are large enough for congregation members to gather around the fire. The hearths also used the swirled GFRC technique.
Security Desk Challenges
“I was most proud of the security desk because we were able to fit the pieces in a very challenging configuration,” Gary states. Three steel columns pierce the desk, at multiple angles and within curved countertop sections. Even the architect could not figure out how to connect the pieces, and left it up to Gary’s judgment and skill.
A Successful Project and a Versatile Surface
The sizes, shapes and colors possible with concrete, combined with the skill of a true concrete countertop artisan, made this a successful project. Congratulations Gary! You’re a great success story and an inspiration to other concrete countertop pros!
Churches, restaurants and businesses should take note that concrete can deliver for desks, bartops, water features and fireplace hearths as well as many other functional and beautiful uses such as bathroom countertops and stair treads.
GB Building & Design offers concrete countertops and elements in Casper, Wyoming and around the country and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-262-6569. Visit Gary’s website at www.gbcountertops.com.