Stone World

From the Editor

January 1, 2006


The use of stone in architecture dates back centuries - in Europe as well as here in the U.S. Always considered a sign of strength and durability, the material was utilized substantially in construction years ago - forming some of our most notable landmarks. Of course after hundreds of years, Mother Nature has taken its toll. But with skilled restoration and preservation crews, these buildings are being rejuvenated, and will continue to stand for many centuries to come.

And with the realities of today's society, some of these landmarks are being addressed for other concerns - such as security issues. An example of this is seen in the recent architectural additions to the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, which is featured as this issue's Classic. With the need for heightened security in mind, adjustments were needed to ensure safety at this large tourist attraction.

Fortunately, architects charged with this task have been able to thoughtfully incorporate materials such as natural stone in these features, thus tying the renovations to the structure's rich history. Rather than an intimidating obtrusive surveillance, the National Park Service desired the simple design proposed by Olin Partnership of Philadelphia, PA. This included constructing a low 3-foot-tall granite wall with constraining entry points to prevent a person from firing a shot from a passing vehicle. “We integrated the landscape with the security aspect, while still providing a pleasant atmosphere,” said Project Manager E. Allan Spulecki of Olin Partership, adding that the wall serves as a focal point on the grounds.

The 3,200-lineal-foot radial perimeter wall features rock-face finished Blue Grey granite on the facing and a 6-inch-thick solid coping of Blue Grey with a thermal finish at the perimeter wall. In addition, the wall contains an extended curb comprised of 10-inch-thick pieces of Cambrian Black granite.

The upgrade to the Washington Monument illustrates how safety regulations can be incorporated into architecture without comprising its aesthetics. Also, it reflects the original design concepts of our ancestors, who considered stone to be a premium building material.

Jennifer Adams
Editor