Wisconsin limestone provides a match in Utah

April 1, 2010
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A range of stone materials were utilized for the historic restoration/renovation project that would become O.C. Tanner Flagship Jewelry Store in Salt Lake City, UT. At the building’s east elevation, a brick exterior was replaced with large 1,800-pound honed slabs of Valders Buff limestone from Valders Stone & Marble, Inc. in Valders, WI, which surround a glass curtainwall.

Valders Buff limestone from Valders Stone & Marble, Inc. in Valders, WI, was able to naturally replicate the stone color of an historic building in Salt Lake City, UT. Fabricated stone had to match different finish requirements for the exterior of a restoration project that would become O.C. Tanner Flagship Jewelry Store. Additionally, the company’s Valders Dovewhite dolomitic limestone was used for the interior redesign.

Originally built in 1906 as a city library, the building added a brick addition in 1961, when it was converted into a planetarium. In 2003, the planetarium relocated, and the building - listed on the National Register of Historic Places - was left vacant. O.C. Tanner Company, a multi-million dollar company known for making jewelry as well as awards for the Olympics, decided to purchase the building in 2003. O.C. Tanner Company made a commitment to the city of Salt Lake to restore the building to its original size, structure and splendor.

“The project for the exterior restoration included the removal of the non-historic [brick addition] and the creation of a new contemporary facade at a location which had been an interior wall,” said Partner-in-Charge, Rob Pett of MJSA Architects in Salt Lake City, who served as the architect for the project. “This was done with the use of glass and limestone cladding. The interior of the building was completely redesigned as a contemporary jewelry store.”

The limestone surrounding the glass curtain wall laser etched by Catherine Shuman of Decoro Art Stone in West Jordan, UT.

Exterior renovation

From the very beginning, O.C. Tanner Company’s plan was to create a building that would embrace its past while also looking ahead to the future. “Achieving a tasteful and subtle merging of past and present in this new entrance was one of the owner’s key requirements. Extensive research and due diligence were performed to ensure the project’s success,” said Michael Schumacher of Valders Stone & Marble, Inc.

Some of the most dramatic new stonework can be found at the building’s east elevation.

Large 1,800-pound slabs of Valders Buff limestone replaced the brick used for the 1961 renovation. The panels were honed and then laser etched by Catherine Shuman of Decoro Art Stone in West Jordan, UT, to make up this area, surrounding a glass curtainwall. “Because there were no historic photos documenting the east elevation’s original architecture, a new limestone facade, which literally reflects the building’s history, was designed,” said Schumacher. Images were etched to illustrate the facility’s past functions as a library and a planetarium, and they also detail its current use. “A scene from the library anchors the building, an image of the “m101 galaxy” adorns the limestone tops, and a portrait of O.C. Tanner symbolically unites the images in the center,” Schumacher said.

The project also addressed the main entrance on the other side of the building. In this area, the existing locally quarried historic limestone facade was removed, restored and then reinstalled. 

According to Schumacher, the size of the laser-etched slabs make this entrance the largest laser stone etched project in the world. In addition, placing the images on the exterior limestone cladding was among the most challenging aspects of stonework. “This was accomplished by the technology of laser etching using a screened process and adding a white pigment stain in the resulting depressions,” said Pett.

The panels were installed by Kepco+ of Salt Lake City, UT. “The large laser etched pieces were 9 feet, 10 inches x 5 feet, 4 inches and weighed approximately 1,800 pounds,” stated the company. “The large slabs had to be transported to Utah horizontally and then rotated 90 degrees to be installed. To carry the spans, the stone had to be 2 inches thick. A mason’s A-frame scaffold with a monorail system was used to rotate the pieces. The monorail system consisted of a structural channel and alumna beam which was rated to be supported from the head rack of the frame scaffold.”

Paving made of Valders Buff limestone in a thermal finish and Zimbabwe Black granite lead to the entrance of this historic landmark and extend all the way around the front.

According to Kepco+, the slabs were cut thinner than usual because of the existing conditions presented by the building, but the use of Valders stone allowed for a thinner application. “Most of the limestones under consideration would have been much thicker - at least 4 inches,” stated the company. “However, the jobsite conditions for the East wall were very limited, making it impossible to utilize a 4-inch-thick stone. The Valders stone proved to be a perfect fit for the project, both in color for aesthetic considerations as well as structural properties to meet the thickness limitation. Because the stone was so thin, additional blind anchors were installed behind the stone to accommodate span requirements. This was all determined through the engineering analysis performed by KEPCO+’s Director of Engineering, Steven Judd.”

The exterior stonework was completed by Kepco+ in five weeks, with four men on the job. “This includes the installation of the pre-attached galvanized angles, which carried dead loads for the stone,” according to Kepco+. “These large pieces were supported from a relief iron and side anchored to pick up lateral loads.”

The main exterior staircase features locally quarried Heber Red sandstone, which was a close color match to the original exterior staircase. 

Historic restoration

In addition to the installation of a new entrance at the east elevation, the project also addressed the main entrance on the other side of the building. In this area, the existing locally quarried historic limestone facade was removed, restored and then reinstalled. “Much of the stone from the demolition phase was salvaged and restored so that it could be reinstalled in other areas,” said Schumacher. “Matching the cross-hatched and combed finishes of the historical stone presented a unique challenge both when restoring the historical pieces and fabricating new pieces to replace those damaged beyond repair.”

Furthermore, whatever was not able to be salvaged was replaced with Valders Buff limestone, which was given a “custom finish.” “We tried to produce the texture of what was already on site,” said Schumacher. “Delta Stone, a local stone fabricator, worked diligently with the installing contractor, architect and client to perfectly match the original finish applied to the stone.”

Moreover, this area features Valders Buff pavers that have a thermal finish. Zimbabwe Black granite from Caffall Tile of Salt Lake City, UT, is integrated with the limestone, and the combined stone paving extends all the way around the front. Visitors approach the entrance doors through the use of a staircase made of locally quarried Heber Red sandstone, supplied by Delta Stone in Heber, UT. “Local Heber Red sandstone was used to replace the original historic front stairs and restoration of the original foundation,” said Pett, adding that it was a color match to the historic stairs.

Valders Buff limestone is also carried onto the walls that make up the parking structure. The material is further utilized for exterior details such as tapered copings, radial panels and profiled accents. Pett noted that much of the exterior selections for Valders Buff limestone came due to the color match of the original as well as its strength and durability.

The interior of the building was planned to be completely redesigned into a contemporary jewelry store. Keeping in mind the owner’s desire of making this “America’s Most Beautiful Store,” a three-story spiral staircase made from Valders Dovewhite dolomitic limestone surrounds an elaborate chandelier fixture -- creating a glamorous look for the interior. 

A redesigned interior

Following the renovation and restoration work of the exterior, the interior was planned to be completely redesigned into a contemporary jewelry store. The design incorporates approximately 1,200 square feet of natural stone on the floor.

To honor the owner’s desire of making this “America’s Most Beautiful Store,” a three-story spiral staircase made from Valders Dovewhite limestone surrounds an elaborate chandelier fixture, creating a glamorous look for the interior. Additionally, the same material is carried onto other areas of the interior for flooring.

According to Pett, the radius stair treads range in sizes of 1 foot, 6 inches x 4 feet, 6 inches x 6 inches, while other areas on the interior flooring range in sizes of 1 foot, 10 inches x 1 foot, 3 inches x 2 inches.

The interior radial stairs were handset by Kepco+. “The spiral staircase consisted of four sections which were fabricated from structural steel and connected at the mid-landing and at each set from level one to two and then again from level two to three,” stated the company. “Since the staircase was supported at the top and bottom, the staircase had flex within. Kepco+ attached the limestone to the structural steel with structural silicone.”

The interior staircase was installed by a three-man crew and took two weeks.

Approximately 1,200 square feet of the same stone was also used as interior flooring.

A rewarding completion

Completed in September of 2009, the $24 million renovation took close to two years. “The drive behind the project was to carry out Obert C. Tanner’s dream of  building America’s Most Beautiful Store,” said Schumacher, who added that his company supplied over 600,000 pounds of Valders limestone for the interior and exterior. “It was very humbling to be a part of something so rich in history in Salt Lake City. It was an honor for us to work on the project. Thankfully, we were able to match the [stone] color. We have done other restoration [work], but nothing of this grandeur. It’s such a showpiece - an artistic gem in the middle of the city. We’re really all sharing on the successful completion of the project.”

The store has received a Tucker Award from the Building Stone Institute as well as an award from the Utah Heritage Foundation, and it is in competition for other honors as well.  

Sidebar: O.C. Tanner Flagship Jewelry Store

Salt Lake City, UT

Owner: O.C. Tanner Company

General Contractor: Big-D Construction, Salt Lake City, UT

Architect: MJSA Architects, Salt Lake City, UT

Stone Supplier: Valders Stone and Marble, Inc., Valders, WI (limestone); Delta Stone, Heber, UT (sandstone); Caffall Tile, Salt Lake City, UT (granite)

Stone Installers: Kepco+, Salt Lake City, UT (wall panel installation and interior radial stairs); Child Enterprises, Springville, UT (restoration of building facade, water table repair and parking structure stonework); Caffall Tile & Marble, Salt Lake City, UT (exterior stone paving, curbing, wall copings, etc.); Millcreek Tile & Stone, Salt Lake City, UT (interior stone tile)

Stone laser engraving: Decoro Art Stone, West Jordan, UT

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