Hospitality Design: Native Sandstone Adapts Golf House to Desert Surroundings

March 13, 2006
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Rough stone-clad towers derived from ancient Anasazi structures give the golf house an air of a renovated ruin, while the surrounding grounds are composed of boulders and plants that emphasize the notion of the structure emerging from the land.


The Entrada golf house at Snow Canyon in St. George, UT, incorporates sandstone, slate and travertine into its natural design

Offering sweeping views of surrounding cliffs, the 24,000-square-foot sandstone-clad Entrada golf house at Snow Canyon in St. George, UT, was designed to serve the golf and social needs of the country club, while providing a strong architectural statement for the Entrada community as a whole. Large horizontal beams echo the surrounding sandstone cliffs, while rough stone-clad towers derived from ancient Anasazi structures give the building an air of a renovated ruin. The surrounding grounds are composed of boulders and plants, offering the notion that the structure is emerging from the land.

According to architects from Zmistowski Design Group LLC of Boulder, CO, the owners wanted a quality, yet inexpensive, casual clubhouse building that integrated well into the desert environment and reflected the uniqueness of St. George's artistic and craft community. It was also clear to the architects that they needed to relate to the already well-established architectural character of the area, which includes low, simple, earth-colored buildings, surrounded by plants, rocks and water.

Natural stone was selected at the client's request for its high-quality look and feel, and to further harmonize with the surrounding natural environment, according to the architects. Sandstone materials used on both the exterior and interior were locally available through Split-Rock Partnership of St. George, UT, and were used to reinforce a texture and color relationship to the land.

The architect and mason agreed that the challenge was to track down a strong enough stone that could survive the exterior environment, while also matching the color they were looking for.

“The veneer sandstones that were used for both interior and exterior applications feature natural finishes and are oriented horizontally - as in their strata,” said architect John Decker with Zmistowski Design Group LLC, adding that they were also treated with a clear penetrating sealer. “The cut sandstone countertops were honed and treated with a color enhancing sealer. The un-gauged slate and travertine floors are natural surfaced, but were sealed with a wet-look sealer.”

Sandstone materials used on the exterior were locally available through Split-Rock Partnership of St. George, UT, and were used to reinforce a texture and color relationship to the land.

According to Decker, it was difficult to find sandstone that matched the surrounding environment. “One challenge was finding a sandstone which gave us the rich orange-red color of the surrounding St. George material [Kayenta sandstone] that was also hard enough to survive the exterior environment,” he said, adding that they ended up selecting a field-material from a nearby source of deeper strata.

In addition, three varieties of slate - Chinese Multi-colored, California Gold and Multi-colored Classic - were used for the living room floor, conference center pre-function floor and for the stairs in between. On select floors, slate was used with travertine-band details - in a subtle blend of colors - to present the high-quality image the client desired, while being strategically placed to reduce cost.

The slate floors provided a second obstacle. “A second challenge was keeping a 'zero-transition' on the un-gauged slate floors in the living room that was interspersed with travertine bands [which were] set by Vita Nova,” he continued. “This required Berger, the installers from SLC, to bed the two materials differently and bring them together perfectly level. The finished appearance is a flat, inlaid look to the floor.”

Native sandstone was also used on the interior faces of the towers, and on fireplaces and select interior walls. In addition, three varieties of slate - Chinese Multi-colored, California Gold and Multi-colored Classic - were intermixed in a geometry of patterns to form the living room floor.

Locating the ideal sandstone

Ronnie Sims of Split-Rock Partnership of St. George, UT, agreed with Decker that it was difficult to track down a strong enough stone that also matched the red color that they were looking for. “About six or seven years ago, when the golf course was first being developed, we got a red sandstone from Arizona, so when we started on the golf house, we already had a theme in place,” explained Sims. “All the red rock we tested was too soft. We tried every quarry from California to Indiana and couldn't find anything.” Eventually, Sims ran into Allan Feller of Utah-based Feller Enterprises, who told him about a unique red sandstone they had been pulling out of a subdivision nearby. “The stone tested to the strength we wanted,” said Sims. “Since it was tumbled in the river bed, it was harder than the rock found in the mountain. We got boulders and split them up to do work on the clubhouse, and it matches the cliffs perfectly.”

Interior sandstone was used in a flat-rough coursing to look like indigenous American handiwork.

Nominal thicknesses for exterior pieces ranged from 5 to 8 inches thick, and according to Sims, the stones are laid tightly and offer a dry stack look. Inside the golf house, stone sizes range from one pound to 200 pounds on the walls, which Sims said makes for great variation.

“I have an artisan's view of installing the rock,” he said, adding that he doesn't want the rock to do something it doesn't naturally do. “Some stone came out with straight lines in it and some didn't. We had to put the bigger, more wildly striated pieces in medallions, and used the ones with straight striations to build around them. It really formed a unique pattern that came upon itself.”

Overall, the 200 tons of stone took a crew of five masons a total of nine months to install. “We had local artisans that are really good quality masons here in town,” said Sims. “I personally built all the fireplaces, while the other guys were working on the exterior.”

Slate floors with curved Mexican travertine-band details were used to present the high-quality image the client desired, while still being strategically placed to reduce cost.

Additionally, Sims added that Kent Bylund, also of Split-Rock, had a phenomenal vision when tying the building to the surrounding landscape.

“It's fun to work on a project when it's really open for the artisans to add their input,” said Sims. “We came a long way in everyone adding to it to really make the project what it was.”

Ronnie Sims of Split-Rock Partnership of St. George, UT, personally built all interior fireplaces, while the rest of the crew worked on the exterior.

Construction of the project began in late December 2003. The owners moved in and opened the golf house in June 2005, while the official Grand Opening was on October 14.

“The project has been well received by the members and the community,” said Decker. “In certain light, the building disappears in the desert background, and in others, it looks like a detached piece of the cliffs beyond. It is well liked enough that imitation of some elements has begun to occur in surrounding development.”

The use of natural stone was also carried into the woman's lounge.

Entrada golf house at Snow Canyon

St. George, UT

Architect: Zmistowski Design Group LLC, Boulder, CO

General Contractor: Chuck Culp Construction Co., Salt Lake City, UT

Stone Installers: Split-Rock Partnership St. George, UT, with Chuck Culp Construction Co., Salt Lake City, UT (sandstone); Berger Inc., Salt Lake City, UT (travertine, slate)

Stone Suppliers: Feller Enterprise of Utah (sandstone); Vita-Nova, Van Nuys, CA (travertine); European Marble and Granite, Salt Lake City, UT (sandstone countertops); Contempo Tile Co., Salt Lake City, UT (slate)

Stone Specifier: Free Spirit Concepts, Broomfield, CO (travertine)

Landscape Contractor: Split-Rock Partnership, St. George, UT

Landscape Architect: JTH Group, St. George, U

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