Evoking a distinguished ambiance with stone

July 1, 2003
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The new headquarters of Staten Island Bank & Trust in Staten Island, NY, was designed by the architects of Stonehill & Taylor of New York to be a stylish space, while keeping within the bank's budget. Built using the foundations and first floor structure of a building originally used as a church social hall/gymnasium, the $4 million project involved interior and exterior work on the 39,600-square-foot building -- using materials including granite, stucco, glass and mahogany.

"In this design, Stonehill & Taylor sought to convey a dignified and elegant, yet simple and straightforward impression to both the bank's staff and its customers," said Neill Parker, Jr., AIA, senior associate at Stonehill & Taylor. "Although it is a high-profile institution in its community, the bank wished to keep its expenditures for its own facility low as a matter of policy. The challenge was to create that ambiance economically -- we wanted to create an interior incorporating both the stone and other appropriately rich materials, which harmonized with it, and still kept the cost down."

Polished Giallo Fiorito granite -- quarried in Brazil; slabbed, finished and cut into 32-inch square tiles by Franco Natucci CMI srl in Carrara, Italy -- was the only material chosen for both interior and exterior applications of the building. "The stone for this project was selected by the builder [Salvatore Calcagno]," said Parker. "He liked its rich colors and bold texture, feeling that its crystalline character would complement the large areas of reflective glass on the facade. It proved to be a perfect choice for the bank, as it harmonized beautifully with the dark stained mahogany that Stonehill & Taylor had hoped to use on the interior."

On the exterior, 9,000 square feet of 23/4-inch-thick granite pieces were used for walls, planters and a freestanding exterior ATM structure. Though the stone was uniform in finish and size for most of the interior and exterior spaces in the building, the exterior stairs varied slightly. They were selected to be thermal-finished, rather than polished, and were specially fabricated in 3-inch-thick pieces.

A total of 2,200 square feet of 3/4-inch-thick material was carried into the interior for flooring and the main lobby reception desk. The stone was also used for interior counters and stair treads. "Stonehill & Taylor reflected the design brief by using stone flooring to demarcate the areas for public circulation," said Parker. "Complementing the stone, the design made extensive use of stained mahogany to enhance the traditional feeling desired by the bank, but kept the cost down by using the mahogany as standing and running trim rather than paneling and cabinetry. This allowed it to be crafted by carpenters, rather than the much more expensive architectural woodwork trade."

Construction began in August 2001 and was completed in September 2002. The developer/builder, Salvatore Calcagno Construction Co., installed all of the stonework.

"Salvatore Calcagno has made the liberal use of stone a trademark of his projects and takes particular pride in this feature of his buildings," said Parker. "All the stone for the facade was cut to size and detailed in Italy, requiring careful coordination

on Calcagno's part between metric and English measurements.

"For his part, Calcagno purchased the stone in bulk by the container from a supplier he has had regular dealings with, and thus was able to obtain favorable pricing."

The installation of the stone was a three-month job. While four workers installed the exterior stone with a stainless steel clip system, three workers mud-set the interior stone.

"We had to order all the material pre-cut before the building started, because we didn't want to lose time," said Calcagno. "Because we didn't have anything to measure, we had to go by the plan, which was a challenge. But the stone measurements came within 1/4 inch of what they were supposed to, so everything came out fine."

In addition to the Giallo Fiorito granite, Absolute Black granite was used for a few applications. "We used Absolute Black where a more uniform appearance would be more in harmony with other forms and materials in the space," said Parker. "For example, we used it for bathroom counters."

Since the completion of the project, the reaction from the client and community has been positive. "The bank's officers have been very complimentary to our firm for the way the building functions, and have remarked that they get lots of compliments from their staff, customers and community members regarding the overall ambiance," said Parker. "The project won the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce's Award of Excellence for Interior Design, and Awards of Achievement for Interior, Exterior and Craftsmanship. The building was one of the most prominently featured projects in text and photo coverage in the special section of the Staten Island Advance (a daily newspaper) that was devoted to the Awards."

Staten Island Bank & Trust, Staten Island, NY

Architect: Stonehill & Taylor, New York, NY

Architect for Building Shell: Sanna & Loccisano Architects, Staten Island,NY

Stone Installer: Salvatore Calcagno Construction Co., Staten Island, NY

Stone Supplier: Franco Natucci CMI srl, Carrara, Italy

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