In the spring of 2019, the first phase of a 1.2-billion-dollar modernization of O’Hare International Airport kicked off with grand expectations. Some of the many improvements included adding 10 new gates, renovating more than 750,00 sq/ft of the existing building, and refurbishing the interior spaces. At the heart of the project, Terminal 5, one of the busiest international airport terminals in the world, seemed a daunting prospect. This terminal was also where Menconi Terrazzo, a Chicago-based family business founded in 1974, took on the highly demanding and logistically complicated installation of the new terrazzo floors.

Although the history of terrazzo can be traced back to the ancient mosaics of Egypt, modern terrazzo is best known from 18th century Italy, where workers arranged marble fragments in a mortar base. At its most basic, Terrazzo is a composite material (marble, quartz, granite, glass), poured in place with a binder, where metal strips often divide sections, changes in color, and patterns. When installed with vision, talent, and technique, however, terrazzo floors can also be beautiful works of art.

Installing terrazzo floors is an involved, multistep process. Once the concrete is prepared, and the design divider strips cut and placed, the terrazzo is then mixed and poured. From there, it can take days to cure before the lengthy process of grinding and polishing can begin. This is a crucial step where Menconi’s years of experience, combined with the most modern equipment, truly made a difference. Using a fleet of powerful power trowels fitted with the latest Runyon tooling, they were able to complete the critical grinding and polishing phase with extraordinary speed and effectiveness, saving both time and money.

So, if you should ever find yourself passing through O’Hare with a few minutes on your hands, don’t forget to look down when strolling the celebrated Terminal 5. Thanks to Menconi Terrazzo and their experience and dedication, what you’ll find is a striking, sanitary, and eco-friendly flooring solution that boasts a lifespan of 75+ years. For longevity is the mainstay of properly installed terrazzo, a durable and striking surface that will serve countless travelers for generations to come.