Connecting to the desert environment

August 1, 2008
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
Photo courtesy of SmithGroup

Set in the desert region of Phoenix, AZ, the Riverpoint Center was designed with Teak sandstone to reflect the Southwestern environment. The material was supplied by Tab India through its U.S. office, Amsum & Ash Inc.

Set in the desert region of Phoenix, AZ, the architects for the Riverpoint Center sought to connect the corporate facility to its natural surroundings, while also maintaining its corporate appeal. To help achieve these goals, the design includes sandstone from India, which was used for both exterior and interior applications.

The project was designed for Apollo Group, Inc., which operates the University of Phoenix and other higher education programs. “The overall design concepts pay tribute to the region, while showcasing the Apollo Group as a corporation designed to meet the needs of the future and one that is a model for 21st century education,” according to a design statement issued by Carpenter Sellers Architects of Las Vegas, NV, which served as the architect for the project in conjunction with SmithGroup’s Phoenix office. “The site is near the Salt River and was a dry wash. The design pays tribute to the old wash as if the wash ran through the site and broke the 10-story [section of the facility] and eroded the six-story [sections].”

In terms of material choices, the building was designed with materials that respond to the natural Southwestern environment. This included the use of Teak sandstone, which was supplied by Tab India through its U.S. office, Amsum & Ash Inc. In all, 23,000 square feet of stone was specified.

“The stone from India was selected for both its aesthetic quality and also its cost,” explained Mark Roddy, AIA, LEED AP of SmithGroup.

Roddy explained that a broad range of stone materials - including sandstone varieties from Arizona and Pennsylvania - had also been considered. “The stone either didn’t meet our aesthetic criteria or the contractor’s budget,” he said. “In the end, Teak sandstone met our budget and looked great.”

The exterior and interior walls are comprised of sandstone that vary in size to form a repeating ashlar pattern. The first row of the pattern consists of 18- x 36-, 9- x 24- and 9- x 36-inch pieces, with a row of 9- x 36-inch tiles sitting on top of it. A third row is made up of 12- x 36-inch pieces. Additionally, randomly placed accent pieces protrude 1/4 inch from the field.

Although Apollo Group was not hands-on in the stone selection process, Roddy explained that the client was excited about the design intent and the potential use of quality stone in the public spaces, which ultimately became a reality. “Stone was primarily used in public areas such as the lobbies and cafeteria, where it could be appreciated most,” said Roddy.

“The lobby area features 30-foot-high ceilings and a grand staircase that is sandwiched between sandstone walls, creating a canyon effect and a sense of mystery as you climb to the second floor,” according to Carpenter Sellers Architects. “The landing reveals itself as you ascend the stairs. Natural light and a contemporary style complement the open lobby area. Travertine, wood and glass are used to help to warm the space and create an inviting reception area with modern built-ins and contemporary seating that is art and useful at the same time.”

Photo courtesy of SmithGroup

“The site is near the Salt River and was a dry wash. The design pays tribute to the old wash as if the wash ran through the site and broke the 10-story [section of the facility] and eroded the six-story [sections],” according to a design statement issued by Carpenter Sellers Architects of Las Vegas, NV.

Implementing the design

According to Roddy, there were some challenges involved during the construction of the facility, including the fact that the veining in the stone had to be horizontal to the ground plane. “There were some stone pieces that gave the impression of too much of a vertical [or] diagonal veining, and these pieces were replaced to maintain the overall aesthetic concept,” he said.

Although the stone was ordered in seven standard sizes, some pieces had to be field cut as the installation progressed, according to Tiffany Nicholls of Sun Valley Masonry, Inc. in Phoenix, AZ, which served as the installer for the project.

Stone installation products included Laticrete 254 Platinum Multi-purpose Thin-Set Mortar and Laticrete 9235 waterproofing membrane, which were supplied by Laticrete International, Inc. of Bethany, CT.

On average, 18 stone installers were on site for the project, which broke ground in 2005 and was completed in December of 2007. It has since been recognized with a Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Nevada Chapter, among several other awards.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Stone World 

Recent Articles by Alexis Fisher

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

The Stone Fashion Show at Marmomacc in Verona

As usual, stone suppliers from Italy and around the world relied on the Marmomacc fair to showcase some of the latest stone materials to the international marketplace. The following is a look at just some of the stone materials on display in Verona.

Stone World Magazine

Stone World September 2014 cover

2014 September

In this issue of Stone World, we have a Report from Europe, which includes a series of articles about the quarries and stone processing operations that SW editor Jennifer Adams visited as part of the Marmomacc Stone Academy.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine

CSTD Fall 2014 cover

2014 Fall

In this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design, we take a look at the latest developments in TPT, with a feature article and you can read more comments from Waldrep on this subject as well as other industry professionals.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


Are you aware of the new stone standard – ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainability Assessment for Natural Dimension Stone?
View Results Poll Archive

The Stone World Store

How to Polish & Restore Marble Flooring

This video will show you step-by-step how to resurface and polish marble flooring from grinding and removing lippage and scratches to achieving a highly reflective polish.

More Products

Stone Guide

2014 Stone World Stone Guide

The directory for Stone, Equipment and Supplies - the single information resource readers turn to.

Stone Industry Education

stone industry educationStone Industry Education is sponsored by Stone World Magazine and Marble Institute of America. The SIE events will help you: strengthen your skills, build your business, and  increase profit in your shop.  Check out to register for upcoming fabricator and installer seminars.


facebook logo Twitter  YouTubeGoogle+