French Normandy look achieved in Oklahoma City

December 1, 2002
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Regional limestone extracted from the "stone country" of Oklahoma, coupled with the experience of skilled stonemasons, proved to be the right combination for the successful development of Gaillardia Golf & Country Club in Oklahoma City. Using an "Old World" style mortar application, along with aged patina cement stucco, the masons were able to build a facility which resembles the 16th and 17th century chateaus of Normandy, France.

Credit must also be given to the architects of William Zmistowski Associates, LLC (WZA) in Boulder, CO, who thoroughly researched this classical style to achieve the desired affect. "The client has roots in Normandy, France, and was inspired by the grandeur of the region," said Director of Design, Michael Olson, AIA. "We integrated a mix of French Normandy with a blended style of Country Provincial." The architect explained that the highly refined appearance of a chateau was combined with a more relaxed and casual look, which was created with exposed stone.

"We didn't travel [to France], but between the client and us, we educated our design team in the style," he said. "We referred a lot to history books and authentic classical architectural books on the style - basically any resource we could find, which helped define for us a more specific type of stone coursing to use. The research was very beneficial in coming up with an appropriate stone module and detailing on the building."

Also aiding in the French architectural influence was the accessibility of the local limestone - Tulsa Grey Taupe dimensional stone supplied by Tulsa Stone Co. of Tulsa, OK. "We were very fortunate to have a project in Oklahoma where limestone is readily available," said Olson, who worked along with stonemason Guy Marshall of Advanced Masonry Inc. and Tulsa Stone Co. to come up with a semi-custom module, which gave some flexibility and replicated the French style.

The limestone, which consisted of a couple of shades and had a split-face finish, was supplied in a 5-unit module, which included 2 1? 5, 7 3? 8 1?and 13 1?inches. The material was used for the exterior facade of the 53,500-square-foot clubhouse and throughout the development for perimeter walls, the gatehouse, fitness center and interior monumentation features.

"Once we approved the sample wall depicting an appropriate stone coursing and mortar application, the masons were talented enough to begin to work," said the architect. "Every unique project requires a certain level of education in order to achieve the required look."

Olson explained that the design objective was to have larger, rougher pieces of stone on the golf course, and have the stonework gradually become more refined as it approaches the clubhouse. "We wanted to have the most rustic and largest scale stone that we could find, like the natural red sandstone rock outcroppings which are seen in Oklahoma," said the architect. In the end, it was decided to use Arkansas Hackett to create the retaining walls, bridges and abutment facing throughout the golf course. The stone pieces were 4- x 8- to 10-foot slabs with a thickness of 2 feet or greater.

"The refinement of the stone started to evolve as it got closer to the clubhouse," said Olson. "As it evolved from the landscape, it changed to the limestone that was quarried [by Tulsa Stone] and evolved to vertical wall applications with more refined details. At the gatehouse, some had ornamental iron fence details." Additionally, the gatehouse had granite cobbles as paving. It was a total stone integrated design concept.

To further enhance the European look of the clubhouse, the corners were comprised of 18- to 24-inch pieces of cast stone quoins with a bushhammered finish for cost savings. "These were also used by European stonemasons," said Olson. Additionally, cast stone was used for other details, including the door and window surrounds and sills, the lintels over the windows and portal in stone walls, portals, the watertable base around the building, pier and wall caps, and chimney moldings. The roof cornices were made of Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC). "We actually had an artist that used an aging technique to blend the newness of the cast stone and the cornices up along the roof line with the natural stone," said the architct.

Finding a stonemason

Since Oklahoma is noted for its use of natural stone, there were many skilled masons qualified for the job, explained Olson. "It was really great working in Oklahoma," he said. "There are all kinds of stonemasons. A lot of stone is used on residential projects as a standard. There's good talent, but we had to educate them as to the look we wanted as to get the mortar pointed correctly."

According to Olson, WZA considered several masons before choosing one. "We had them make a series of mock-up wall samples," he said. In the end, Advanced Masonry, Inc. was awarded the exterior installation job.

"It was a learning experience for us," said Dave Holman of Advanced Masonry, Inc., project manager/foreman on the entry and clubhouse. "We've done a lot of natural stone and cast stone [projects], but it was new to us to make it look aged, and make it look like the building is a copy of a French castle."

Holman explained how his crew tried to be as accurate as possible in mimicking the work of stonemasons from years past. "It's hard to replicate," he said. "We had people send us pictures. The architects sent us some pictures of buildings from France and close-ups of walls to follow. We were trying to make it look like an old rock castle, so the rock wasn't laid like most jobs would be," he said. "Everything was hand cut to fit."

In total, approximately 3,000 tons of limestone was used for the clubhouse, gatehouse, fences and other stone features. The clubhouse alone consists of 800 to 900 tons of material. "The pieces were very heavy," said Holman. "They were 6 inches thick and ranged from 14 to 30 inches tall." According to the installer, each piece of limestone was hand trimmed with a sledgehammer to create a rough, Old World look.

The limestone was cut into various thicknesses to match the layers that are visible in old castles, according to the installer. The pieces were laid in a running pattern with the bigger rocks at the bottom. "As it went up, the rocks and courses got smaller," said Holman. "All of the archways were hand cut from Tulsa stone on site. They would deliver pallets of various size pieces, and we had cutters with hammers and chisels."

The installation team included an average of 10 masons, eight helpers, a couple of operators and a foreman. To further enhance the aged look, Blue Circle Eagle Bond - a light buff structural mortar - was used for all the stonework. "We wanted it to look like an old mortar, so we literally cut off flush, and let it get hard," said Holman. "We then brushed it with a soft brush." The installer also explained that ProSoCo Sure Klean[R] 101 Lime Solvent was used on the limestone to give it an aged appearance as well.

Interior use of stone

Although not as abundant as on the exterior, the use of natural stone is prevalent throughout the interior design of the clubhouse, which was the combined work of William Zmistowski Associates, LLC and J. Kattman Associates, LLC of Denver, CO. Villebois Gris French limestone - supplied by International Granite & Marble Corp. (IGM) - was employed as flooring in public spaces such as the entry rotunda, gallery, stairways and the wine room. The material was also incorporated into the design of the spa area in the men's locker room. The 12- x 21-inch pieces, which had a flamed finish, were laid in a running bond pattern in a thick-set mortar of 1 to 11/2 inches thick.

For the countertops and bar tops throughout the interior, honed Botticino marble and Baltic Brown granite were employed. Additionally, Mocha Cr?me French limestone was used for the wainscot in the bathrooms.

According to Dean Young of Young Bros. Inc. in Oklahoma City, the interior installer for the job, the sheer size of the clubhouse made it a challenge. The entire project took about a year to complete, with about 12 workers on the job at its busiest time.

The interior design also included quite a bit of detailing, which added to the French influence of the architecture. "There was an oval pattern in the entry that had to line up with an oval pattern in the ceiling," said Young. "We had to cut the [Villebois Gris limestone] floor to fit the ceiling."

The installer also explained that there were many countertops to install and steam rooms that were tiled, which all added to the complexity of the job. The fabrication work was done by Southwest Tile & Marble of Oklahoma City.

One amenity in particular that Gaillardia is noted for is its banquet hall. "There was a need for a high-quality banquet facility [in this area]," said Olson. "It was very successful for that type of market." The room, which is surrounded on three sides by large terraces, is open to member-sponsored patrons for executive, business and social functions.

"[Gaillardia] is a showcase for Oklahoma City," said the architect. "It was a three-year project for us from the beginning design through final construction. We are very proud of the final result."

Gaillardia Golf & Country Club, Oklahoma City, OK

Owner: Opubco Development Co., Oklahoma City, OK
Architect: William Zmistowski Associates, LLC, Boulder, CO
Interior Designer: William Zmistowski Associates, LLC, Boulder, CO; J. Kattman Associates, LLC, Denver, CO
General Contractor: Flintco Inc., Oklahoma City, OK
Stone Installers: Advanced Masonry Inc., Oklahoma City, OK (exterior); Young Bros. Inc., Oklahoma City, OK (interior)
Stone Suppliers: Tulsa Stone Co., Tulsa, OK (Tulsa Grey Taupe dimensional limestone); International Granite & Marble Corp. (IGM), Dallas, TX (interior stone)
Stone Fabricator: Southwest Tile & Marble, Oklahoma City, OK (interior stone)
Stone Installation Product: ProSoCo, Inc., Lawrence, KS

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