New data center is distinguished with limestone

October 1, 2003
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The architects for the 81,000-square-foot Edward Jones Data Center in St. Louis, MO, wanted the facility to be more than a typical masonry building. So to highlight the building, they specified the exterior core elements of building constructed of Gascogne Blue limestone from Portugal on either side of the entrance.

The main body of the building, which serves as a data processing and storage center, is rectangular and functions as the data center and supporting infrastructure. The protruding limestone core elements complement the clean, rectangular volume and include elements such as elevators, stairs, utility closets, restrooms and entries. “We desired a clean and simple aesthetic,” said architect Jim Kehoe of Arcturis in St. Louis. “We wanted to create a more visually appealing building within the non-descript landscape along the highway. We used a simple material palette and forceful geometry to breathe significant qualities and identities into the building.”

Finding the right limestone for the building cores and front entrance was a process that took into account aesthetics, practicality and cost. The first limestone that the architect looked at was Indiana limestone. “This limestone was a fairly typical stone used on more traditional buildings like many university structures,” said Kehoe. “Panels of the Indiana limestone were looked at, but the thickness needed were so great, it seemed overkill to the building’s structure. We also preferred a stone with a high modulus of elasticity for greater durability.” The next stone that was considered was an Alabama limestone, but the issue of cost came into play. It would have been specified much thicker similar to the Indiana stone and the product cost more per square foot than the 1 1⁄4-inch-thick Portuguese Gascogne Blue limestone, and therefore, not as cost effective, according to the architect. The limestone was supplied by Global Granite & Marble of St. Louis.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the architects liked the Gascogne Blue limestone for the contrast that it presented against the rest of the brick building. Not only did the 25,000 square feet of material fit well with the brick, but it also complemented the zinc metal copings and entry canopy as well. “This Portuguese stone was more interesting than other limestone because encased in the stone were crystal-like fossils,” explained Kehoe. The honed finish of the limestone added another unique accent to the stone. “The variation of veining was far more interesting in this honed finish stone,” said Kehoe. Possibly the most exciting characteristic of the stone was the way it looked when the sun struck the masonry. “When the sun hits, it shimmers and is a bit reflective, similar to polished granite, but a bit more muted and mysterious,” explained Kehoe.

The installation of the stone took approximately three months, with an average of four masons on site, according to installer Ken Booth at Leonard Masonry of St. Louis MO. “The limestone panels for this project were all hand set, using a stone anchoring system consisting of stainless steel angles bolted to the concrete block backup and stainless steel split tail anchors located in the bed joints which were welded to the angles, cut by skilled Bricklayer Foreman, Charlie Uding,” stated Booth. “The method of installation was very similar to that of granite panels, but additional anchorage was needed to allow for the wind load for the limestone panels, since it is a softer material than granite. The joints in the stone were later caulked.”

The only challenge that the installer faced was the timing and communication throughout the project. “The scheduling for this job was critical because the limestone was fabricated outside the U.S.,” explained Booth. “The shop drawings and fabrication tickets were done in St. Louis, but it had to be completed months before we expected to have stone delivered onsite. This required good communication between all parties involved, including Leonard Masonry, Global Granite and Marble, and McCarthy Construction, the general contractor on the project. Global Granite met their delivery deadlines, and the project turned out very well.”

The challenge for the design of the building for the architect lied in combining a vast amount of fictional requirements along with a practical and simple look. “As a designer, trying to create a building that had a significant presence with many highly rigid functional requirements was a challenge,” said Kehoe. “The owners wanted to have a strong architecture with a economically minded approach to the design.”

Since the Edward Jones Data Center was completed, the reaction and feedback has been positive. “The simplistic approach to the design drove strong geometries and lines that really make a crisp statement, the response has been good,” explained Kehoe. “We have had many responses since it’s is viewed from the highway, a prominent location, it’s a real eye catcher.”

End box
Edward Jones Data Center, St. Louis, MO

Architect: Arcturis, St. Louis, MO

Stone Supplier: Global Granite and Marble LLC, St. Louis, MO

Stone Installer: Leonard Masonry Inc., St. Louis, MO

General Contractor: McCarthy Construction, St. Louis, MO

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