Designing With Tile and Natural Stone for Elegance, Vibrancy, and Style

By clicking "Register", you acknowledge that you have read BNP Media’s Privacy Policy, agree to its terms, and consent to allow BNP Media to use your information consistent with the Privacy Policy. You agree your information submitted will be shared with the sponsor(s) of the webinar. To read our Privacy Policy, please click here
Webinar On-Demand
Sponsored by the National Tile Contractors Association

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify four projects where tile and stone helped achieve the program’s design goals and performance needs.
  2. Describe stone options that can help create a high-end modern tropical residence.
  3. Discuss how colorful tiled walls add energy and excitement to a community center.
  4. Define the qualities of tile that help maintain the stateliness of a 1920s estate.


1 AIA LU/Elective
AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour
MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA.
This course can be self-reported to the NSAA
NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
OAA 1 Learning Hour
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.
This course is approved as a Structured Course
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
Approved for structured learning
Approved for Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA
Course may qualify for Learning Hours with NWTAA
Course eligible for OAA Learning Hours
This course is approved as a core course
This course can be self-reported for Learning Units to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia
This test is no longer available for credit

This webinar is part of the Tile Academy

This webinar will explore the specification of tile and stone in four unique projects. The presenters will discuss how tile and stone met the design goals in unique ways, from creating visual excitement in a community center, to enhancing a stately history home owned by Henry Ford’s Home, to elevating South Florida estates to a modern tropical elegance.

Ben Grobe AIA, Principal and Amanda Key, Principal of the Smith Group will present the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House—Edsel Ford was the only child of Henry Ford. During their lifetimes, Edsel and his wife Eleanor maintained an 87-acre estate nestled on Lake St. Clair in Grosse Point Shores, Michigan. The home has now become a community treasure that focuses on history, events, and education. The Smith Group was selected to restore, reconstruct, and rehabilitate the 1920s estate. The extensive use of tile throughout adds the warmth and durability the project needed.

Kirsten Youngren, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CPHC, , of FXCollaborative will present the YMCA, Bronx, New York project—Located within the La Central mixed-income, mixed-use development in the Bronx, the new YMCA building provides an anchor for the entire community. The ample ground floor storefront affording views into the wellness center puts the YMCA's mission on display. Tile plays a central role as brightly-colored ribbon-like walls guide members and visitors from the street through the facility—from reception down a wide, sky-lit stair, and culminating at two naturally light-filled swimming pools.

Ralph Choeff, AIA, , Founding Principal, of Choeff Levy Fischman will present two projects, Bal Harbour Residence— This two-story, eight bedroom, nine-bathroom tropical modern residence is in Bal Harbour, Florida. Just past the gate is a stunning shell stone motor court with contrasting grass strips leading to the door. A monumental Italian travertine stone wall extends from the driveway and also makes an appearance in the backyard pool deck. Stone and tile make their appearances through the home, including a bespoke cherry blossom mosaic wall in the master bathroom shower.

North Bay Residence—Located in Miami Beach, this 10,000-plus-square-foot, two-story, waterfront tropical modern home creates mid-century motifs with such tropical elements as South American hardwoods, exotic stones, and water features. Inside, limestone cladding and black marble walls create an elegant touch.

The presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion focused on how these innovative projects address several key issues.

Bal Harbour

Photo courtesy of Choeff Levy Fischman Architects

Designed by award-winning architects, Choeff Levy Fischman, with interiors by designer Deborah Wecselman, the modern home has 100’ of water frontage and unique to the area, a 1,433 SF rooftop space that is solar-panel ready.


Ben Grobe, AIA, Principal, Smith Group thrives on creating “unprecedented solutions,” particularly those that can have a positive impact on the environment and the local community. “This industry constantly pushes the envelope with design possibilities, materials and energy efficiency,” he says. Ben points to the visitor center he worked on at the Edsel Ford home as a good example. “The Edsel Ford Visitor Experience is a modern interpretation of a historic site. It met the challenge of maintaining the site’s historic character, while adding a zero-energy building that brings the organization into the 21st-century.” Ben’s hidden talent is drawing and painting. “I love the precision of drawing real-life objects, people and scenes, and the creative expression of painting abstract art,” he says.


Amanda Key, Principal, Interiors, Smith Group "Our work can positively impact the way people learn, work and interact," suggests Amanda, an interior designer in the Dallas office. "We remember moments, like sharing a meal with friends in an atmosphere that resonates with us. Spaces are sometimes what make an experience memorable." Amanda has fond memories of her first SmithGroup project: the University of Michigan South Quad renovation, upgrading a 1950s residence and dining hall for students in athletics and honors programs. As a former student athlete herself (softball), Amanda says, "I recall my college experience so fondly. I wanted to ensure that the space I helped design left a positive impact on their college experience, too." Her college coach conveyed some lasting lessons. As Amanda explains, he reminded his players that they had the opportunity to do what many could only dream about—play ball for four years and walk away with a college degree. "The message resonated with me: Make the time and experience count."


Kirsten Youngren, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CPHC, FXCollaborative is responsible for overseeing projects through all phases of the design and construction process. With an extensive understanding of building code and zoning, her strengths in technical coordination allow her to skillfully translate design ideas into reality. Focusing on high-end residential, affordable housing, and educational projects, Kirsten coordinates the many layers of each project so that they complement each other, while working out the inevitable kinks.

Kirsten's childhood love of math and art was solidified into a love of architecture upon visiting an exhibition at the Cooper Union as a teenager, which led to completing studies in Building Science and Architecture at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Both realistic and innovative, Kirsten appreciates the importance of the zoomed-in details and the social aspect of her projects, aiming to achieve synchronicity among all components.

A Certified Passive House Consultant, Kirsten believes that all architects have a responsibility to advance the efficiency of buildings by focusing on the ecological consequences of material use and looking to technological advancements for new materials. Kirsten is highly influenced by nature's complexity, and brings that intricacy into her designs to produce spaces that are comfortable, functional, attractive, and create a voice for the future.


Ralph Choeff, AIA, Founding Principal, Choeff Levy Fischman is a graduate of Pratt Institute where he earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree. While living in NYC, Choeff designed low income Section-8 housing in the City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, among other projects.

Upon graduation in 1978, Choeff moved to Miami where he launched his own firm in 1983. He has since established himself and his firm as leaders in South Florida’s Tropical Modern architecture. The architectural style making waves across South Florida’s most exclusive neighborhoods combines Choeff’s love for classic midcentury modern design with tropical elements like South American Ipe wood, Limestone, Travertine, and other exotic stones. Choeff’s designs feature expansive floor-to-ceiling glass doors that often slide and pocket to allow for unobstructed views of the water. With many homes having close proximity to a body of water, Choeff is also a fan of implementing water features like a shallow pond at the entryway with “floating" steps that lead one to the front door, or cascading waterfalls with a modern flair throughout.

Choeff has gone on to win several local and international design awards, and his work has been recognized by national design publications including Architectural Digest, Forbes, Robb Report, The Wall Street Journal, and Mansion Global among others. He has designed residences for a multitude of high-profile global executives, celebrities, musicians, and professional athletes including Alex Rodriguez. In addition to luxury single-family residences, Choeff has also designed notable Miami Beach hotels including the Mondrian South Beach and The Angler’s.


National Tile Contractors Association Established in 1947, the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) is a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the professional installation of ceramic tile and natural stone. With a membership made up of over 1,500 members, NTCA is one of the fastest growing trade associations in the U.S. construction industry. NTCA strives to improve the tile installation trade through education and training, participation in the development of standards and methods, and communication of our initiatives to related trades.


Originally published in October 2021