Red and black granite reflect Phillies true colors

November 1, 2004
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Citizens Bank Park, home to the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, features classic design elements, along with bowl seating and modern amenities such as 95 concession stands, 71 luxury suites and a “diamond club.” A scenic view of the city's captivating skyline can be seen from the open-air stadium, which houses 43,500 fans and occupies a 21-acre block. And to help capture the essence of the ballclub, over 18,000 square feet of China Red and Black Rhapsody granite are incorporated in the ballpark's classical design.

According to Senior Project Architect Craig Schmitt from EwingCole, the project had multiple design and practical goals. “The team wanted to create a fan-friendly, open, intimate ballpark,” said Schmitt. “We wanted to design a ballpark reminiscent of older times, but detailed and interpreted in a modern way. It is not a retro ballpark, but has a feeling not too dissimilar to one. We wanted to incorporate distinct original elements with a nod to historic features and ballparks from the past.”

To meet these goals, the architects chose to use polished granite to serve as a base for the ballpark's classic brickwork. The stones included China Red from Argentina and Black Rhapsody granite from South Africa, and they were supplied through Landis LTD of Wilmington, DE. “We had two or three [color] palettes put into our specifications, and based on price and availability, we decided to go with those particular granites,” said Schmitt.

The use of granite offered practical benefits in addition to meeting the desired aesthetic. “We chose the stone because of its durability and timeless aesthetic, because the ballpark requires a lot of cleaning after every game,” said Schmitt. “Also, we borrowed references from historic Philadelphia architecture. The combination of red brick and granite has been used throughout the city historically.”

The bottom 4 1⁄2 feet of the ballpark is clad in 1 1⁄4-inch-thick pieces of granite. These include China Red panels measuring 24 x 24 and 12 x 24 inches, with smaller bands of Rhapsody Black measuring 24 inches wide x 6 inches high. This combination of red and black granite is used as wall and column bases throughout the exterior, and a base of China Red granite also highlights feature areas such as the ticket booths, clubhouse store and VIP and suite entrances.

According to Tim Skirvin, president of Landis LTD, the company supplied about 25,000 square feet of granite altogether. “It was impossible to get the granite on time, and it delayed getting the granite drawings approved,” he said. “Once approved, however, the job was completed in a timely fashion.” He added that the stone was not simply sold as basic tiles, since much of the material had to be cut to size for the project.

Another use of granite can be found at each of the four entryways, which feature bronze “a little larger than life”-sized statues honoring All-Star players from the Phillies' past. The bases of these statues are comprised of Chinese Red granite.

Once inside the ballpark, the design continues the theme of brick walls with a China Red granite base. A focal point of fan experience is “Ashburn Alley,” a 50,000-square-foot retail strip located behind the outfield, which contains a “Walk of Fame” lined with pavers commemorating Phillies All-Star players from the past and present. The 4- x 4-foot pavers were created from Cambrian Black granite supplied by A. Lacroix et Fils Granit Ltee, of Quebec, Canada. Each paver is engraved with specific positions, and below each position, in 8-inch squares, are the individual player's names.

Commemorating pavers are also located in the parking lot of the new ballpark, recognizing where Veterans Stadium -- the Phillies' previous home -- had been located. The pavers are made of Bethel White granite -- quarried by Rock of Ages Corp. in Barre, VT -- and are shaped like the bases found on a baseball field.

Stone with a more upscale look was chosen for some of the ballpark's high-end viewing areas. For example, the architects selected Blue Pearl granite -- quarried in Norway and supplied by Landis LTD -- for the countertops and drink rails within the ballpark's suites.

In addition, a “Phillies Red” quartz-based agglomerate stone was used on countertops at some concession stands and on the bar tops for club bar areas. According to Skirvin, the 3-cm-thick polished slabs were produced by Cambria of Le Sueur, MN. “Landis undertook the subsequent cut-to-size fabrication and installation of a substantial number of bar tops and reception area tops,” he said.

Installation techniques

Much of the granite used at Citizens Bank Park was preassembled on panels prior to installation on the site. Universal Concrete Products Corp. of Douglassville, PA, installed the granite on the precast panels. “We cast the granite into the panels face down,” explained Don Evans of the architectural precast manufacturing company. “We put the granite into the bottom of the mold, then poured the concrete on top.” According to Evans, coordination was a key element in implementing the project. “It was a difficult job to erect because of all the precast panels underneath the steel,” he said, adding that the installation began in June 2003 and lasted until opening day. Universal subbed out the panel erection to subcontractor Samuel L. Grossi & Sons of Bensalem, PA, whose job was to install the granite-faced precast panels on site. Engineering and fabrication of the entire project was completed by Universal.

Mark/Lepore, a joint venture between Mark Masonry Co. from Pennsauken, NJ, and Dan Lepore and Sons Co. from Conshohocken, PA, installed the hand-laid granite. According to Lepore's Executive Vice President, Rodrigo Rodriguez, installation of the stonework took eight weeks with a crew consisting of eight stonemasons and six laborers. The granite was installed using soft, open joints with caulk sealant, and stainless steel anchors. Rodriguez said that the most challenging aspect of this task was adjusting to the tolerance of the concrete backup wall.

Davis Giovinazzo Construction Co. of Spring House, PA, was responsible for the brickwork and block work, and it also worked on the granite installation at Citizens Bank Park. The project required a great deal of field cutting, according to Joe Mancuso, project manager for Davis Giovinazzo Construction Co. “We had to set up a fabrication shop on site, and our crew of six men had to cut every stone to its new size. Then, our trucks transported the stone from the fabrication site to the area where a crew of nine was waiting to begin the installation process. Because of the delay, we were running four to five months behind, and it was getting really close to Opening Day. We had to modify the installation of the granite.” Using a dry set installation method with caulked joints, the process took the crew five weeks to complete.

Driscoll/Hunt Construction -- a joint venture between L.F. Driscoll Co. of Bala Cynwyd, PA, and the Hunt Construction Group, Inc. of Indianapolis, IN -- served as the construction manager for the project. “Driscoll is well-known locally and has a good reputation in town,” said Schmitt. “Hunt has a national presence, and has worked on several Major League Baseball venues in the past. Together, the two covered all bases of experience.”

Construction began in November 2001 and finished this past April, just in time for the Phillies to start the 2004 baseball season. Looking back on the project, Schmitt said the ballpark has already had a significant impact on the city of Philadelphia. “It's a passionate sports town,” he said. “The park has improved the psyche of the players as well as the fans. Many people say it is the best ballpark in America, and everyone is really proud of it.”

End box

Citizens Bank Park
Philadelphia, PA

Architect/Engineer/Interior Designer/Planner: EwingCole, Philadelphia, PA
Joint Architect: HOK Sport + Venue + Event, Kansas City, MO
Stone Suppliers: Landis LTD, Wilmington, DE (China Red granite, Black Rhapsody granite); A. Lacroix et Fils Granit Ltee, Quebec, Canada (Cambrian Black granite); Rock of Ages, Barre, VT (Bethel White granite); Cambria, Le Sueur, MN (quartz surfacing, supplied through Landis)
Installers: Dan Lepore and Sons Co., Conshohocken, PA; Mark Masonry Co., Pennsauken, NJ; Davis Giovinazzo Construction Co., Spring House, PA
Precast Contractors: Universal Concrete Products Corp., Douglassville, PA; Samuel Grossi & Sons, Bensalem, PA
Construction Manager: Driscoll/Hunt Construction, Philadelphia, PA

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