Stone World

American stone adds character at Marist College

July 5, 2011
Ellen M. Hancock Technology Center
Sitting atop a bluff overlooking the Hudson River and the breathtaking topography of the Hudson Valley, the campus of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, features a rich collection of architecture to go along with its natural surroundings. One of the latest additions is the Ellen M. Hancock Technology Center, the new 57,000-square-foot home for the School of Computer Science and Mathematics located at a focal location on campus. The building was designed with a blend of New York granite for the exterior.

Designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, LLP, a firm which previously had created noteworthy additions to Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins and other universities, the $32.5 million project was named for lead donor and Vice Chair of the Marist Board of Trustees, Ellen Hancock, and her husband, Jason. It was designed incorporating an “L”-shaped plan that purportedly “improves the definition of two of the campus’s green spaces, the Hudson Meadow and the Quadrangle.”

The landscape design surrounding the building preserves the beautiful rock outcroppings that are the distinctive characteristic of the site, while creating a sheltered courtyard in the “L” of the building’s two wings. The exterior of the building was designed to maintain the look of traditional Gothic architecture, which was initiated by the Marist Brothers when they founded the school at the turn of the 20th century. This look included rustic granite walls, red brick window surrounds and limestone detailing.

The exterior of the new building was clad with stone material from the quarries of Champlain Stone, Ltd® of Warrensburg, NY. More than 1,000 tons of sawn rubble was specified for the project. “The stone which was selected for Marist’s new building included a blend of Wood Creek Granite®, 1763 Granite® and Crown Point Granite™,” explained Ryan McLaughlin, Director of New Business Development for Champlain Stone. “Ironically, all three of these granites were new introductions from our company, and this was the first large-scale commercial venture to utilize these materials.”

Per the masons’ request, this large amount of stone material was delivered to the jobsite with sawn beds (top/bottom). This procedure helped to reduce waste in the field and improved the expediency with which the stones could be laid in place. 

“It was a challenge to control consistency of the blend throughout the project in order to maintain the look the architect and school wanted,” McLaughlin said. “Generally speaking, consistency from truckload to truckload can vary, especially with a project of this magnitude. So we made a point to quality control this entire effort over a three-month time period.

“We were able to do this because scheduling was mapped out at optimal levels prior to the construction with the general contractor, architect and the mason,” McLaughlin continued. “In doing so, we actually inventoried all needed stone right on our grounds. This way, not only did overall installation flow work well by keeping the sizable amount of stone material offsite, the on-campus jobsite was much less congested.”

“The stone was selected based upon color, size and texture,” stated Justin Butwell, P.E., Director of Physical Plant at Marist College. “There was a strong desire to match stone on existing adjacent buildings in an effort to unify the look of the various structures on campus. One of the reasons we went with Champlain Stone was that the firm was a New York state quarry, roughly only 200 miles from Poughkeepsie. We liked the sustainable feature of that. And the stone material which was provided gave us an acceptable match to tie in with the appearance of other buildings. Casler Masonry of Syracuse did an excellent job relative to installing the stone, as well.”

“We are extremely proud to be able to contribute to this project,” stated Michael B. Morey, President of Champlain Stone. “In particular, because not only were we able to provide materials to a project in our home state, it was a great opportunity for American stone to be used. There is great stone material coming from our country. Our quarriers take great pride in their work and see to it that all the stone they excavate, hand-split, drill, saw or run through hydraulic guillotines is always consistent with our company’s strict specifications. The Hancock Building at Marist College is a world-class architectural project. The stone for a project such as that must clearly meet world-class standards.”

There are more plans on the drawing board for Marist College involving stone for a number of projects, all of which will be designed to continue the stately, established appearance now seen on campus.