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Wausau's 400 Block a Community Project

  Subscribe to FREE newsletter  Mar 28, 2012

For the past 15 years, the center of downtown Wausau was an undeveloped city block. The community’s goal was to keep it an open community space, yet transform it into a more pleasing atmosphere.

With the Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department and community involvement, Becher Hoppe designed and transformed the vacant space into an aesthetically pleasing area named the “400 BLOCK”.

The city of Wausau remodeled their downtown area by adding a stage for concerts and a central gathering space for people to visit in it's downtown area. This project was a grassroots movement, with local community members making a donations to kick it off. "There was hundreds of thousands of dollars donated," says Justin Plunkett of Wausau Tile, the precaster on the project. "Wausau Tile and the city came up with an idea to engrave the names of all the people who donated money on the precast wall panels that were installed on the front of the stage."

The precast stage wall panels and the caps on the stage received a blasted finish. Wausau engraved on the stage wall panels and then filled the engraved names with a black epoxy. "That is a program we have here called commemorative gifting," says Plunkett. "All the names on the panels are names of people and business that donated money to the 400 Block project." The precast panels were about 30” tall x 120” long x 4” thick.

The design call for precast wall caps to sit on top of poured in place planter walls. Wausau also supplied all the wall caps for this project -- which included more than 50 different shaped pieces. "We also supplied the stainless steel skate stoppers in between the wall caps," says Plunkett. "Obviously the city was concerned about people skate boarding on the walls so we came up with the ½” thick stainless plates to help deter skate boarders."

Wausau Tile went to the jobsite to do field measurement and templates to help out the general contractor, Miron Construction. The 4-inch-thick wall caps are a sand color and have an acid wash finish to them.

Signs for the 400 Block project were also designed by Wausau Tile. "The city asked for something for the 4 corners of the block so we designed and manufactured signs to have the same profile and color as the wall caps," says Plunkett. The signs are acid washed and the text was cast in and then stained black.

Miron Construction installed all precast items on the project. Wausau Tile cast in inserts into all the precast items so they could be installed to the poured in place concrete. "The mason on the project did say that they have never worked with product so straight and true," says Plunkett. "They did a great job installing everything and we worked well with them."

About Wausau Tile

Ed Creske founded Wausau Tile in 1953, while working out of his two-car garage. From a terrazzo contractor’s hard work and dreams evolved a thriving business, occupying 400,000 square feet and employing 300 people.

Today, with his son Bill and the entire Creske family, Wausau Tile has risen to the forefront of manufacturing in the concrete and terrazzo industry. As a result, Wausau Tile manufactures and ships worldwide, the most unique, architectural products imaginable.

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