Limestone is a Common Thread for Texas Village
February 16, 2006
Frisco Square in Frisco, TX, one of the largest mixed-use developments in the country, features a variety of buildings clad in native limestone
Designed by world-renowned architect David M. Schwarz to be the ultimate pedestrian community, Frisco Square in Frisco, TX, offers approximately 1.9 million square feet of office space, 550,000 square of retail/restaurant space and 1.6 million square feet of residential space, making it one of the largest mixed-use develop-ments in the country. The space also includes sites for a new City Hall, a library, courts, municipal offices, a small museum and a church. The project was based on models found in both the U.S. and Europe and strives to emphasize pedestrian use through the inclusion of arcades and shared green spaces.
â€œThe project is part of a 140-acre master plan, of which the city owns roughly 20 acres,â€ said architect Michael C. Swartz from the firm David M. Schwarz/Architectural Services Inc. of Washington, DC. â€œThe rest of the land is owned by a private entity that was interested in selling it. Some of the city's representatives saw it and like the quality and feel of the mixed-use project, and they asked us to come on board to help design something that resembled Parker Square, which is also in Texas.â€
Since much of the neighborhood is clad in limestone, the architects selected Buff Lueders limestone from Mezger Enterprises Ltd., of Lampasas, TX, to match.
Rather than put all of the city's facilities in one district, the municipality wanted them spread out into several destinations within the neighborhood, according to Swartz. â€œThe City Hall, park spaces, senior center, library and the residences are all interspersed,â€ he added.
Due to the large scale of the project, the architects faced a few minor challenges. â€œWe spent a lot of time getting coursing sizes right - in terms of them working on the design of the building and in terms of the scale of the project,â€ said the architect. â€œWe had to make sure that the coursing pieces would begin and end in the right spots. We used patterned uniform dimensions wherever we could.â€
Mezger Enterprises supplied a total of 10,000 cubic feet of limestone for the project, according to Wayne Harbin, the company's sales manager. â€œIt is one of the finest architectural cut limestone projects in Texas over the last couple of years,â€ he said. â€œIt has old style craftsmanship and detail not often found in commercial projects these days.â€
For the veneer, typical pieces measured 3 feet long x 1 foot, 4 inches tall x 3 inches thick. â€œEvery piece of stone on the building was drawn and detailed by Mezger Enterprises' drafting department, approved by the architect, then each piece was custom cut and finished,â€ said Tony Brotherwood, Drafting Department Supervisor of Mezger's.
Brotherwood also said that some pieces had to be specially fabricated for the project. â€œThere were two types of areas where the pieces fabricated required a little added work,â€ he said. â€œOne area that required added work was the split-faced base course that goes around almost the entire building. These base course pieces had to be fabricated in our Lueders mill. Once they had the appropriate finish applied, they were shipped back to the Kempner Mill for the anchor slots. When they were completed, these pieces were palletized and shipped to the jobsite. These stones saw a lot of highway time in their venture in becoming part of the building.
â€œThe second was the molded door and window surrounds on the first floor,â€ Brotherwood continued. â€œThe radial and elliptical tops of these window units were assembled on the jobsite, which made no two surrounds the same. The mason supplied templates to Mezger for each window or door. Mezger Enterprises then converted these templates into AutoCAD form, allowing each piece to be cut to fit that particular window or door.â€
Brotherwood said that with the help of Rick Bradshaw of Fort Worth Masonry in Fort Worth, TX, and a large storage area, Mezger Enterprises was able to keep stone on the ground and stay in front of the mason and the schedule that was made for the installation.
According to Bobby Jo Welsh, project manger with Frisco Square Construction, the job took the crew - consisting of three masons and five laborers - a duration of seven months to install. â€œWe laid [the stone pieces] on shims and anchored them to the wall and grouted,â€ said Welsh. â€œWe than came back and grouted the joints.â€ The project manager added that the hardest part of the project was to lay the stones, as â€œpieces were heavy and had to be handled by a fork lift.â€
Swartz also said that color control of the limestone was an issue. â€œNatural materials have some variations, but you always have to be concerned about whether or not the veining is suddenly going to change in the middle of the building,â€ he said.
Swartz said that passerbys are intrigued by the stonework found at the site. â€œPeople are amazed to see something of this quality nowadays,â€ he said. â€œWhen you walk up to it to see it and feel it, you can really tell that this is the real stuff. We continued to use limestone into the arcade that runs under the building, which is a place where one may have been tempted to use less. The arcade adds a lot of exterior surface to the building. Many pedestrians comment that they think it is nice that the material was also used in the arcade. It adds a very rich feel, not in the sense of expensive, but in a satisfying, substantial and permanence way.â€