Stone Brings Stature to Raleigh Convention Center
July 1, 2009
With a significant amount of stone prominently featured throughout the interior and exterior of the 509,000-square-foot Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC, the structure has become a signature landmark in the city. After six years of planning and three years of construction - involving the collaboration of three architecture firms - the new facility opened its doors in September of 2008.
The building was the result of a partnership between tvsdesign of Atlanta, GA, the Design Architect; O’Brien /Atkins of Durham, NC, the Architect of Record; and Clearscapes of Raleigh, NC, the Associate Architect. An important criteria of the design was “to seamlessly weave the new facility into the urban fabric of downtown Raleigh,” according to a design statement from the design team at tvsdesign, which included Jeff Wierenga, Aaron Gentry and Danielle Trost.
“Three-fifths of the building is buried below grade, making the facility more approachable on a pedestrian scale, while also relating it more appropriately to the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Wierenga. “All four streets surrounding the convention center feature their own grand entries with elegant canopy features.”
Additionally, an outdoor plaza was created on top of the exhibit hall, adjacent to Salisbury Street - providing the largest urban open space in Raleigh. The plaza is not only highlighted by a water fountain, but also includes a coffee shop, a special two-story meeting space and the main entry to the convention center.
For the facility’s exterior facade, variegated Indiana limestone - supplied by the Indiana Limestone Co. of Bedford, IN - was chosen as cladding. Pieces measured 3 feet, 4 inches x 5 feet and 8 inches x 5 feet - both with a thickness of 3 inches.
“The specifications called for a variegated, II medium density, Indiana limestone from Lawrence, Monroe or Owen counties in Indiana,” explained Wierenga. “A mock-up was done for all stone applications. The color range was very tight.”
To complement the beige tones found in the limestone, Greene County granite was selected for the base of the building. The material was supplied by North Carolina Granite Co. of Mt. Airy, NC, from the company’s own quarry in Greene County, GA. In total, North Carolina Granite Co. supplied 19,000 square feet of granite for the construction of the Raleigh Convention Center, including several varieties utilized for the interior design.
“We were interested in using local stones for sustainable reasons as well as stone that would tie to common usage in the region, while providing a traditional finish appropriate for a civic building,” said Wierenga, adding that the client was somewhat involved in the selection process, especially during the approval stage.
A total of about 10 workers were responsible for installing the stonework. To ensure that the large stone pieces were properly secured to the exterior facade, stainless steel anchors were implemented.
The lavish use of stone continues inside the Raleigh Convention Center, where Portuguese limestone clads the lobby walls. The material was selected for its texture and color, according to Trost. As with the exterior, the Portuguese limestone pieces also were sized at 3 feet, 4 inches x 5 feet and 8 inches x 5 feet - both with a thickness of 3 inches. Additionally, the interior wall pieces were also installed using stainless steel anchors.
Further contributing to the striking appearance of the lobby is the stone floor, which consists of a varying palette of granites that have both honed and thermal finishes. Among the materials used in the floor design are Greene County granite, Pine Green granite and Virginia Mist granite.
“A challenge from the interior side was the paving pattern,” said Trost. “We had to design something that fit with the scale of the space and related to the architecture, yet had a human scale feel as well. We also wanted to use different finishes of stone to give the pattern some depth, but needed to meet the slippage code requirement. So, we chose thermal stone at the doors and introduced a honed stone at 10 feet away.” The floor tiles were laid with a thick mudset application.
According to the design team, it took approximately one year to complete the installation. “More time was spent reviewing the shop drawings to make sure the installer covered all the scope,” said Wierenga. “From a stone standpoint, the job went smoothly.”
Construction on the Raleigh Convention Center began in the summer of 2005, and the building was ready for exhibitors in September of 2008. The structure was built on a Brownfield Redevelopment Site with 100% recycled steel, and 89% of construction services were contracted within North Carolina. The convention center is currently seeking LEED certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), and a Silver certification level in anticipated, according tvsdesign.
“The project has been well received by ownership and the public,” said Wierenga. “As a result of the construction of the Raleigh Convention Center, the City of Raleigh, in particular, surrounding hotels, restaurants and attractions, have experienced increased revenue, a positive community image, higher than average booking rates and the center is embracing ‘green’ initiatives, resulting in reduced energy consumption and greater energy savings.”
Sidebar: Raleigh Convention CenterRaleigh, NC
Architect of Record: O’Brien /Atkins, Durham, NC
Design Architect: tvsdesign, Atlanta, GA
Associate Architect: Clearscapes, Raleigh, NC
Stone Installer: Carolina Stone Co., Raleigh, NC
Stone Suppliers: Indiana Limestone Co., Bedford, IN (exterior limestone); North Carolina Granite Co., Mt. Airy, NC (granite)