Atlanta Campus of the Future Built to Last with CUSTOM

With a budget of $147 million, North Atlanta High School is the most ambitious school project in Georgia history. Atlanta Public Schools invested in their community’s youth by redeveloping the site of a former IBM corporate campus into an educational campus of the future. Architectural firm Cooper Carry of Atlanta was engaged to lead transformation of the extensive property and create a blueprint for adaptive reuse. Facing this unique challenge, the designers specified a premium system of CUSTOM tile installation products chosen with heavy traffic and durability in mind.

Plans for North Atlanta High School (NAHS) called for a total of 35,000 square feet of tiled surfaces throughout two distinctly different buildings. One existing building was demolished and rebuilt with recreational facilities, while an 11-story office tower that is peacefully elevated over a lake was converted into classrooms. NAHS houses four academies and includes a food court-style cafeteria, a video production lab, a theater and an indoor shooting range. This translated into a particularly wide variety of substrates, conditions and tile for a school project.

The tile contractor chosen for NAHS was United Enterprises of Buford, GA, a family-owned business with over 45 years of experience. “CUSTOM was specified for the project from the beginning which we were happy with because of the architectural and technical support we receive. CUSTOM is well known and has a great reputation. I have used CUSTOM for many years and have always been very happy with the results,” said Alan Davis, project manager at United. “Our local rep, Chip O’ Rear, was great to work with and very helpful with technical advice,” added Davis.

The existing office building required a significant amount of surface preparation to bring concrete subfloors to the required flatness for tiling. With work beginning in May and school starting that August, “the extra prep made for a very tight installation schedule,” said Davis. The use of a rapid setting leveler was essential to complete the work in time for the first day of classes. LevelQuik® RS (Rapid Setting) Self-Leveling Underlayment was specified, along with LevelQuik Latex Primer. LevelQuik seeks it own level up to 1-1/2″ deep in minutes, is walkable in four hours and exceeds TCNA requirements for ceramic tile installations.

Outside the classrooms, 20,000 square feet of corridors were set with heavily textured, 12″ x 24″ rectified porcelain tile and accented with smaller decorative tile. The tile in these corridors was installed with MegaFlex® Crack Prevention Mortar, a polymer-modifed thin-set. MegaFlex offers the ultimate in flexibility and bond strength for the most demanding installation requirements. This mortar delivers unsurpassed performance and withstands horizontal substrate movement up to 1/8″. All of these characteristics made MegaFlex the ideal choice for conditions at NAHS.

Before any tile was set, the concrete floors were prepped with CrackBuster® Pro Crack Prevention Mat Underlayment. CrackBuster Pro is a self-bonding, fabric-reinforced asphaltic mat that achieves an extra heavy duty rating and reduces crack transmission in tile and stone floors. This mat complements the CUSTOM crack prevention mortar to protect the tile from intense usage over the years to come. “CrackBuster Pro goes down really easily and it stays down. I will use it again and specify it on my challenging jobs,” said Davis.

Walls in the restrooms were set with 6″ x 6″ ceramic almond tile and a variety of small glazed tiles were chosen to create patterns on the cafeteria walls. All wall tile was set with ProLite® Tile and Stone Mortar. ProLite is a lightweight formula with excellent handling characteristics that will not sag or slip on walls. Formulated with recycled content, ProLite is 40% lighter than traditional mortars, making it easier to move around the jobsite. Plus, a 30-pound bag of CUSTOM ProLite covers the same area as a typical 50-pound bag of mortar.

All tiled surfaces at the NAHS project were grouted with CEG-Lite™ 100% Solids Commercial Epoxy Grout. CEG-Lite provides stain resistance to chemicals, is easier to spread than typical epoxy grouts and is water cleanable during application. CEG-Lite is also suitable for use on vertical joints without the use of an additive.

Both ProLite mortar and CEG-Lite grout are part of CUSTOM’s Build Green® product lineup that contributes to LEED certification. These formulas incorporate CustomLite® Technology for lighter weight and higher performance. ProLite and CEG-Lite are also part of CUSTOM’s Emerald System™ of environmentally responsible products. When used as a system, Emerald System products qualify for Carbon Offset Credits that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Based on the use of these and other contributing products, the specification team for NAHS is currently pursuing LEED Silver level certification for the project.

Thanks to specification of the right installation products, North Atlanta High School provides a lasting foundation for students to achieve excellence on campus and into the future.


Atlanta, GA

Year Completed:



Cooper Carry, Atlanta, GA with Collins Cooper Carusi Architects, Inc. & Paul Cheeks Architects, LLC


JE Dunn Construction, Kansas City, MO

Tile Contractor:

United Enterprises, Buford, GA

CBP Architectural Consultant: