On The surface, the floor Dallas-based Woodwright Hardwood Floor Co. Inc. submitted to the 2015 Wood Floor of the Year Awards looks like a typical, albeit beautiful, project for the Tobin Center in San Antonio, Texas. They might have won the category had those voting heard the story behind, or, rather, underneath the floor.
The seats are atop complex machinery that, at the flip of a switch, turns the entire seating area into a 12,000-square-foot ballroom dance floor covered with engineered riftsawn white oak. Each row of seats is on a platform that raises high into the air, allowing the seats to swing backward and hang beneath, upside down, before the platform descends back to floor level.
Designing, manufacturing and installing flooring on top of 25 separate platforms that fit together closer than a few thousandths of an inch was, to put it mildly, “unique,” says Rick Farrell, Woodwright’s architect and design consultant. The company was involved every step of the way, manufacturing, prefinishing and installing the floor. The 4-inch-wide boards measured between 2–10 feet long and were finished with UV-cured aluminum oxide. The flooring was glued and nailed to a plywood subfloor on each platform, a method chosen by the Tobin Center’s acoustician.
The project took two years from proposal to completion and, despite the multi-step, multi-stakeholder process, Woodwright nailed it. “[T]he way we approach things is to break it into enough components that our craftsmen can pretty much achieve anything,” Farrell says.