Stone World

Stone Column: An Appreciation of Stone Architecture

July 1, 2006


WITH THE EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OF GRANITE KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS IN THE U.S., IT IS NATURAL THAT MUCH OF OUR ATTENTION - AND STONE WORLD'S EDITORIAL COVERAGE - IS DEDICATED TO THIS SEGMENT OF THE INDUSTRY. IN THIS ISSUE ALONE, WE LOOK AT THE OPERATIONS OF SEVERAL FABRICATION SHOPS AROUND THE COUNTRY (PAGES 42 TO 58), AND WE ALSO CONDUCTED AN ONLINE FORUM TO GAIN SOME INSIGHT ON THE STONE FABRICATORS ALLIANCE (PAGE 60).

OF COURSE, THERE IS ALSO ANOTHER MAJOR COMPONENT OF OUR NATION'S STONE INDUSTRY THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED, AND THAT IS THE ROLE OF NATURAL STONE IN ARCHITECTURAL PROJECTS. FOR CENTURIES, NATURAL STONE HAS BEEN USED FOR MAJOR ARCHITECTURAL WORKS AS WELL AS TO DISTINGUISH THE EXTERIORS OF PRIVATE HOMES. IT HAS ALSO BEEN THE MATERIAL OF CHOICE FOR CIVIC PLAZAS AND PARKS, OFFERING A CHANGE OF PACE TO BUSY URBAN ENVIRONMENTS.

TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE STONE IMPORTANCE IN CREATING OUTSTANDING ARCHITECTURE, SEVERAL AWARDS PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED SPECIFICALLY FOR PROJECTS UTILIZING NATURAL STONE IN THEIR DESIGN. IN THIS ISSUE, WE TAKE A LOOK AT TWO OF THESE AWARDS PROGRAMS - THE TUCKER DESIGN AWARDS (PAGE 66), WHICH ARE ORGANIZED BY THE BUILDING STONE INSTITUTE, AND THE PRISM AWARDS (PAGE 80), WHICH ARE ORGANIZED BY THE COVERINGS EXHIBITION TOGETHER WITH THE MARBLE INSTITUTE OF AMERICA AND ARCHITECTURAL RECORD.

LONG RESPECTED BY THE ARCHITECTURAL COMMUNITY, THE TUCKER DESIGN AWARDS TAKE PLACE EVERY TWO YEARS, AND THEY HAVE HONORED SOME OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST ARCHITECTS AND THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS OVER THE COURSE OF THEIR STORIED HISTORY. THIS YEAR'S AWARDS WERE NO EXCEPTION, AS THEY SHOWCASED A RANGE OF RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL, INSTITUTIONAL AND CIVIC DESIGNS BY SUCH NAMES AS ANTOINE PREDOCK, LAWRENCE HALPRIN, BOHLIN CYWINSKI JACKSON, PAGE SOUTHERLAND PAGE AND OTHERS. THEY ARE A THOUGHTFUL BALANCE OF VARIOUS DESIGN STYLES, WITH NATURAL STONE BEING A COMMON THREAD THROUGHOUT.

THE PRISM AWARDS WERE ADDED TO THE COVERINGS EXHIBITION'S EXTENSIVE PROGRAM OF ACTIVITIES IN 2000, AND THEY HAVE TAKEN PLACE ANNUALLY EVER SINCE. THIS YEAR'S SLATE OF WINNERS WAS A MIX OF INNOVATIVE PROJECTS THAT COVERED THE FULL SPECTRUM OF PROJECT TYPES. THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER - 90 WEST STREET IN NEW YORK, NY - WAS PARTICULARLY TOUCHING, AS IT ACKNOWLEDGED THE REBUILDING OF SOME OF THE CLASSIC STONEWORK IN LOWER MANHATTAN, WHICH WAS DESTROYED DURING THE TERRORIST ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001.

IN A TIME WHEN STONE SLAB AND TILE APPLICATIONS SEEM TO BE MORE PREVALENT THAN EVER BEFORE, IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE WINNING PROJECTS IN THESE TWO AWARDS PROGRAMS UTILIZE STONE IN A THREE-DIMENSIONAL FASHION. THE ARCHITECTS OF THESE PROJECTS TRULY DETAILED THE STONE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ITS “SCULPTURAL” QUALITIES (TO USE A TERM THAT RENOWNED ARCHITECT MICHAEL GRAVES USED IN A STONE WORLD INTERVIEW OVER A DECADE AGO). ALL OF THE WINNERS SHOULD BE COMMENDED FOR THEIR OUTSTANDING STONE USE, AND SO SHOULD THE ORGANIZERS OF THESE - AND OTHER - STONE ARCHITECTURE COMPETITIONS. THESE PROGRAMS, WHICH WE PUBLISH THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, SERVE AS A REMINDER OF THE LIMITLESS POSSIBILITIES OF NATURAL STONE IN THE BUILDING WORLD.

MICHAEL REIS, EDITOR/ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER