Radius Design Works – HardStop® Panels in Llano, TX High School

HardStop® Panels Help Tie Together Historical Theme in High School Cafeteria

Llano HS Before and After

The History

Near the geographical center of the state of Texas you’ll find the city of Llano. Founded in the mid-1800s as a frontier trading post along the Llano River, Llano’s prominence was bolstered by the discovery of iron and granite deposits in the late 1880s and the railway line that led frontiersmen from Austin and surrounding communities. 

That history – the rail and the river – is now prominently reflected in the Llano High School cafeteria thanks to some innovative design work by Craig Berry, Creative Director at Radius Design Works.

Radius Design Works, a design build located in Cincinnati, entered the education market about twenty years ago after landing a project at Vanderbilt University. That project caught the eye of the public school administrators in Texas, who in turn brought on the firm for a number of projects in the area. Today, many of Radius Design Works’ projects in Texas – including the high school in Llano – are sourced through Choice Partners, a national purchasing cooperative. Choice Partners completes the legal, competitively bid government procurement process so members can quickly access needed contracts saving them time and money on the bidding process and purchase. 

Llano HS Rivers Edge

The Design

“Kayla Earnshaw, food service director for Llano I.S.D. wanted the new look of the cafeteria to represent cultural and historical components of Llano and the surrounding area,” Berry said. “Given the rich railroad and river history, we knew that was the direction we wanted to convey with the new graphic design concept.”

Berry worked with local historian Carl Shannon to find photos from the city’s past, and came up with an idea to tie in both the rail and the river to the branding concepts of the serving lines.

“We dubbed the two main serving lines as ‘The River’s Edge’ and branded the snack bar ‘Granite and Iron Route’ to tie in the past with the present,” Berry said. “With the historic photos spread throughout the dining room, it really feels like you’re stepping back in time when you enter the cafeteria.”

Llano HS HardStop wall

Completing the Look with HardStop™

In the areas that weren’t covered with the dimensional graphics or large format printed canvas photographs, Berry needed a solution that would complement the old West theme.

“There was an existing particle board wainscoting throughout the dining room that was delaminating and warping along the vertical seams,” Berry said. “The boards were curling out – the surface was deteriorated and scratched. We made the decision to demo the existing product and replace.”

When searching for replacement solutions, Berry has an interesting method to test a product’s durability.

“Whenever I get new samples in, I take out my keys and scratch the surface,” Berry explains. “Another commercial FRP product I tested produced white scratch marks – I could scratch right through the printed paper face.”

But then Berry was introduced to HardStop® Decorative Protection Panels by Formica Group.

“The HardStop is a tough, durable product – tough enough to withstand daily cafeteria abuse,” Berry said. “It’s rigid. It’s hard. When I scratched it with my key, I couldn’t get through the decorative layer.”

The fact that it comes in the full range of Formica® Brand laminates was even more appealing. Berry selected Concrete Formwood and Seasoned Planked Elm for the “old barnwood” look.

Llano HS graphics 1

What’s Next?

The Llano High School project was completed quickly over the summer, just before the start of the 2020 school year. 

“We were able to apply the HardStop directly to the drywall, which made installation a breeze,” said Berry. “I also liked that it’s two sided to balance the material, but that also allows you to put the best face forward and match panel to panel.”

With the nod to the town’s history throughout the creative design, Berry was able to put his best face forward for the students in Llano, Texas. But he’s not done yet, he’s already been asked to design the junior high school cafeteria next! 

Craig Berry, Radius Design Works Radius Design Works

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