Latin America:
Creating a dominant presence with Brazilian granite

September 18, 2001
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Perched on the waterfront as a gateway to Auckland, New Zealand, is the landmark building known as One Queen Street. And while the building offers incredible views of both the city and sea, it was renovated several years ago to meet the demand for office-use facilities. Three varieties of natural stone were incorporated into the new design, to make the structure as aesthetically pleasing as its location.

"The setting is so nostalgic," said Tony Chi of Tony Chi & Associates in New York, the designer for the project. "It had a spectacular location, and [the building] reminded me of a 1950s New York style." Chi explained that the developer, Krukziener Properties, was owned by a young Kiwi gentleman. "He was a jet-setter," he said. "He wished to take this old building and give it new skin."

The developer also intended for the renovation to create a look that would emphasize the strength and location of the property. To achieve this objective, Verde Labrador - a dark green Brazilian granite - was chosen for the cladding of the lower three levels of the building. And to further strengthen the presence of the structure, it was specified that the external corners to the columns and changes in elevation below the height of the copper-clad canopy be solid one-piece units.

Complementing the granite is Crystalla White marble from Turkey, which was employed as cladding in the portal entrance. In addition, the white marble was contrasted by 24 inlaid green onyx panels from Pakistan, which are back-lit at night. The foyer floors and walls were refurbished with large-sized panels of Verde Scurro, a green marble from Italy. The 200- x 90-cm marble panels were also backed with honeycomb-shaped aluminum and used for the floors and walls in the eight elevators.

"Inside the lobby, we gave the space a little more symmetry," said Chi. "We created a good sense of order." The designer explained that the texture of the stone played an instrumental role in developing the desired effect.

A quick installation

Because the developer of One Queen Street implemented a tight construction schedule, the stone was delivered to the New Zealand site in a cut-to-size and ready-to-fit format. Both the Brazilian and Italian stone suppliers were given a clear understanding of the fast-paced nature of the job to ensure that they could meet the schedule.

Approximately 3,314 pieces in 85 different module sizes - including 216 matched solid corner units - were used, according to Keith Cagney of NZ Ceramics & Stone Ltd., the local distributor. "The large dimension 30-mm Verde Scurro marble floor slabs were adhesive fixed to a laser-leveled screeded floor using an epoxy mortar adhesive and 2- x 12-mm notched trowel," he said. "Top course Verde Scurro wall slabs at 200 cm long were mechanically fixed over a 98-cm module with matched solid corners to all 14 external corners in the lobby area."

According to Cagney, all the vertical stonework was mechanically fixed with right angle stainless steel brackets and pins - generally four per stone. "The brackets in turn were fixed to the structure via the Unistrut Channel System," he said. "[This system] was also used to create the faceted portal together with support for all of the columns, including the six build-out columns, and connecting the bulkhead to the north elevation." Cagney added that the Unistrut-supported bulkhead stone also provided the "illusion of support" for the five large suspended lanterns - via the stainless steel rods that were secured at the top.

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