Natural Stone Spruces Up Exterior Design
April 1, 2006
Natural Stone often plays an important role in exterior design - whether it involves establishing a presence for a corporate building or giving character to a residential facade. Many times, the material is selected to help blend a structure to its environment as well as offering durability and a sense of permanence. Whatever the reasoning behind the choice, there is one certainty; natural stone provides a high-end quality look.
Scott Lahr, AIA, LEED AP, a principal architect at Calloway, Johnson, Moore & West of Winston-Salem, NC, finds that he is often working with stone as an exterior finish. â€œI think that designers and clients choose stone materials for both the rich aesthetics that it can achieve as well as the durability and longevity it provides,â€ he said. Also, these materials can offer a wide variety of colors and textures that other products such as glass, brick and concrete cannot create. Random-sized stone pieces with a rough-cut or hand-chiseled finish can develop a more natural and rustic appearance, while materials such as granite and marble, which are often polished, tend to have a smoother look and feel.
â€œI think that the primary factors when selecting stone materials are aesthetic ones of color and texture,â€ said Lahr. â€œThere is such a great variety of options within the stone materials that an incredible variation of looks can be achieved. However, the functional characteristics of durability and maintainability are also important to consider.â€
A Unique Corporate SettingFor the recent design of the 400,000-square-foot Lowe's Corporate Headquarters in Mooresville, NC, the design team of Calloway, Johnson, Moore & West incorporated sandstone, Bluestone and fieldstone into the exterior design. The materials were selected to meet the client's request that the character of the building be timeless and blend with its 157-acre wooded valley surroundings, as well as to achieve the goal of setting the building apart from competing work environments, according to Lahr.
To meet the desired aesthetic, the architects selected a variety of natural stones to be used as exterior cladding on the building, as well as for columns and paving. Together, these materials create a welcoming, relaxing atmosphere for the large corporate office building. Harvest Gold sandstone - from Luck Stone Corp. of Richmond, VA - was used on the exterior portion of the building to contrast the glass panels. The material was used in an ashlar pattern in varying-size pieces, including 5-, 10 1/2- and 16-inch rises.
Next to the building are several walkways and terraces - used primarily for outdoor dining and social events - which feature Pennsylvania Bluestone. In addition, site walls built of Eagle Ridge fieldstone are found throughout the property encompassing the building.
According to Lahr, exterior stone played an important role in the Lowe's project because of the strong relationship between the building and its surroundings. â€œ We were looking for ways to integrate between the building and the landscape, and the use of stone - both on the building, and then emanating out into the landscape - allowed us to achieve the desired connection,â€ he said. â€œIn addition, the use of stone on both the interior and exterior fostered the goals for a more natural and relaxed work environment in contrast to typical office environments.â€
Bob Koontz, RLA, of LandDesign in Southern Pines, NC, was responsible for integrating stone into the landscape design, and said it was integral to the overall project. â€œWe chose fieldstone for the site walls due to its rough characteristics and very natural characteristics,â€ he said. â€œWe wanted the site walls to blend with the surroundings and to provide a contrast to the more refined stone used on the building.â€
Additionally, Koontz said that the Bluestone was selected for the pavers because of its durability, and because they wanted to use a natural material, rather than a manufactured material like brick.
â€œI think exterior stone is becoming more common because of the availability,â€ said Koontz. â€œThe prices of manmade products such as brick and concrete have increased to a point where stone is more competitive now, and people are selecting it because it provides better quality.â€ The project has been well received and utilized by the corporation and its employees, according to Lahr.
A Stone HavenThe exterior design of the Newport Beach Temple in Newport Beach, CA, also utilized natural stone - featuring more than 31,000 square feet of pink granite, which helps blend the building with its environment, both in color and in style.
â€œThe client wanted something of high quality that would integrate into the community well and have the longevity of a stone product,â€ said Allen Erekson, project architect with Lloyd E. Platt & Associates of Holladay, UT.
Salisbury Pink granite was ultimately selected at the client's request to change the color of the building from off-white to an earth-tone shade of seashell. â€œThe color of the material fit into the surrounding community and was well received by the leaders of the community and the client,â€ said Erekson. The material was quarried in North Carolina by Rock of Ages and fabricated by Bestview International of Wood Dale, IL, and Campolonghi Italia S.r.l. of Massa, Italy.
The veneer of the building incorporated three different finishes, providing visual interest. The stones forming the base of the building and the archways are polished, the flat veneer is flamed, and the frieze and medallion stones are honed.
According to Bestview International, the project required the fabrication of many time-consuming details such as the leaf-shaped frieze that serves as a border around the temple, as well as the sun-shaped medallions that accent the frieze at the corners of the building.
Other hand-carved details include the arched window surrounds, entrance arches and four half spheres, which were the heaviest pieces fabricated for the project - weighing a total of 1,400 pounds each. A total of 5,623 pieces of Salisbury Pink granite was used on the temple.
Furthermore, the site work and paving feature a combination of flame-finished Royal Peach granite and Royal Rose granite, both quarried in China. The site walls were fabricated from polished Royal Rose granite, and the benches were fabricated from polished Royal Peach granite.
According to Erekson, stone was the only consideration because of its longevity, and the reaction to the project has been very positive. Construction on the temple began in February of 2004 and was completed in June 2005.
Adding A Quality FinishNatural stone is also being employed to bring an elegant component to residential homes. Colorado-based Terra Verde Architects often uses stone as an exterior finish for projects, many of which are high-end residences. For the recent design of two homes in the area, Chilton Rustic Wisconsin limestone - from Buechel Stone Corp. - was selected to add a high-quality level to the homes.
Both residences were designed to be a part of a prestigious golf course community located near the Vail and Aspen ski areas in Colorado. According to Mark Queripel of Terra Verde Architects, the goal was to add a quality finish level to the residences, and to create a luxury retreat-like atmosphere. Queripel described the Chilton Rustic Wisconsin limestone as being very similar to Colorado Buff sandstone, with shades of red, brown and beige throughout.
For one of the residences, 40% of the exterior is comprised of the limestone material. â€œThe stone was used for three primary fireplace chimneys, and for a wainscoting around a large portion of the home,â€ said the architect. â€œIt was also used as a full-height walk-out level, for the bottom 10 feet of the house.â€
The material was selected because the architects wanted to design the veneer in a dry stack look. â€œBuechel Stone Corp. offered a unique veneer thickness cut stone at the time, which was only 2 to 21/2 inches thick, and they cut the corners to look like full thick pieces of stone as well,â€ said Queripel, adding that everyone involved with both projects were extremely happy with the material. â€œI found the installation of this particular material to be nice and simple.
â€œPeople really like stone,â€ he continued. â€œWe have sophisticated buyers in this area of Colorado, and they wanted real stone.â€