Conjuring a feeling of warmth with Vermont slate

August 21, 2001
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When planning the design of the new sanctuary for The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, GA, the architects were faced with the challenge of creating a Gothic Revival style building while matching existing architecture on site. Plenty of thought was given to what type of building materials would be successful in achieving these objectives. In the end, those involved were convinced that Vermont natural green slate was the appropriate choice.

"I think slate is a material that reflected that period of time," said Project Manager David Brown of Chegwidden, Dorsey, Holmes (CDH) Partners Inc. in Marietta, GA. "It has a very regal look and three-dimensional feel to it. It also wears well over a period of time." Working along with Brown on the project were Principle-In-Charge Bill Chegwidden, Project Designers Tom Smith and Tim Param, Interior Designer Sheila Pratt and Construction Manager Don Dangar.

The architect explained that the master plan for the church was commissioned after the church's purchase of an existing office building and property. In addition to converting the 85,000-square-foot office building into education and worship space, the plan also included constructing a 3,000-seat sanctuary in front of the existing building.

"The slate was specifically a material that worked well with the fa¿e," said Brown. For the exterior, the slate was used for the roof to blend with the hand-made brick and cast stone that was already there, according to the architect.

Inside the sanctuary, Vermont green slate - quarried by Sheldon Slate Products Co., Inc. of Middle Granville, NY, and supplied by Ceramic Technics Ltd. of Alpharetta, GA - was employed for the flooring in the corridors and the sanctuary itself. In total, approximately 30,000 square feet of the material was used.

"It's a very timeless material," said Brown. "It has a very rich finish. The green worked well with the color scheme. We didn't want dark or washed-out looking materials. The slate had warmth."

The architect also explained that they opted for slate for acoustic reasons as well. Used in combination with carpet, the sound in the sanctuary has a nice balance, he said.

An assortment of three different sized slate pieces - 6 x 6, 6 x 12 and 12 x 12 inches - comprise the flooring. "Our interior designer played a strong part in putting [the pattern] together," said the architect. "The joints are a little more spaced. We wanted to keep a randomness to it so it wouldn't look like a standard pattern."

According to tile contractor Greg Dickerson of Doyle Dickerson Co. in Stone Mountain, GA, it took a crew of about 10 to 15 workers to install the slate flooring. A thin-set method was used, and the entire installation took approximately four months to complete.

Dickerson explained that his crew was given a plan to follow for the floor design. "It wasn't too difficult," he said. "It was a repeating pattern. Everyone worked together pretty well."

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