Stone Palette Enhances Urban Development

November 1, 2008
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Photo by Alan Karchmer -- South of Market is a mixed-use project in downtown Reston, VA, which was designed to fit into the urban core of the Reston Town Center - one of the first modern planned communities in the U.S. Several different stones were utilized in the design of the three buildings that comprise South of Market, including Verde Maritaca granite cladding on the first two stories of the exterior facades, which were fabricated and installed by Neka, Inc. of Dulles, VA.


South of Market, a mixed-use project in downtown Reston, VA, was designed to fit into the urban core of the Reston Town Center - one of the first modern planned communities in the U.S. Phase One of the development project involved building two 10-story towers and one six-story building, each consisting of ground-floor retail space with offices above. In building the three structures, which sit on a common, two-level, below-grade parking garage, a variety of natural stone was selected for both the exterior and interior designs.

Photo by Alan Karchmer -- Phase One of the development project involved building two 10-story towers and one six-story building, each consisting of ground-floor retail space with offices above.

One of the design goals was to create a modern interpretation of an old mill-type building,” said Project Architect Eric Sturm, AIA, LEED AP of SmithGroup in Washington, DC. “We wanted to give the sense that even though the buildings are new, they fit the fabric of the town center.”

According to the architect, the retail component of this project plays a very important role. “The first floor is retail throughout to provide a walkable, livable community,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to highlight the retail [aspect] and create a certain look.”

Photo by Alan Karchmer -- Stone was also incorporated into the exterior paving, which primarily consists of brick. The accent materials include 2-inch-thick pieces of Verde Maritaca granite with a waterjet finish, 2-inch-thick pieces of Crystal Gold granite with a flamed finish and 2 ¾-inch-thick pieces of Crystal Gold granite with a bushhammered finish.

The two 10-story towers, which have 258,000 square feet each, serve as bookends to the 127,000-square-foot, six-story building that sits in between them. “We affectionately refer to the middle building as the ‘jewel building’,” explained Sturm.

Several different stones were utilized in the design of South of Market, which were fabricated and installed by Neka, Inc. of Dulles, VA.

Photo courtesy of SmithGroup-- Small strips of Verde Fontaine granite with a honed finish were used as accent pieces, while Angola Black granite with a polished and waterjet finish was employed for the base of the building. “We used Verde Fontaine for contrast,” said Project Architect Eric Sturm AIA, LEED AP of SmithGroup in Washington, DC. “For aesthetic and maintenance purposes, we used Angola Black [granite] at the base of the building. It really hides the dirt.”

The material was supplied from several international stone producers, including Marmi Bruno Zanet of Verona, Italy; International Italmarmi of Massa, Italy; and Granicor of St. Augustin, Quebec, Canada. “We looked at all different types of stone,” said the architect. “The glass on the building has a greenish cast to it, so we liked how the green of the Verde Maritaca [granite] looked with it. It all tied together.”

Photo by Alan Karchmer-- The exterior stone pieces were secured with stainless steel anchors.

The Verde Maritaca granite was used to clad the first two stories of the buildings. Sturm explained that the design team referred to the stone arches as the “eyebrow” of the structures. All of the pieces used for the cladding were 1 ¼ inches thick and had a waterjet finish.

“When we saw the waterjet finish, we really loved it,” said the architect. “It sparkled, and the owner loved it too.”

Sturm went on to explain that small strips of Verde Fontaine granite with a honed finish were used as accent pieces. “We used Verde Fontaine for contrast,” he said. “For aesthetic and maintenance purposes, we used Angola Black [granite] at the base of the building. It really hides the dirt.” The Angola Black granite was given a polished and waterjet finish, and some of the pieces were laminated to a 2 ½-inch thickness.

Photo courtesy of Neka, Inc. -- To further enhance the aesthetics of South of Market, monumental pieces such as exterior planters made from Angola Black granite were implemented into the design.

Stone was also incorporated into the exterior paving, which primarily consists of brick. The accent materials include 2-inch-thick pieces of Verde Maritaca granite with a waterjet finish, 2-inch-thick pieces of Crystal Gold granite with a flamed finish and 2 ¾-inch-thick pieces of Crystal Gold granite with a bushhammered finish.

To further enhance the aesthetics of South of Market, several monumental pieces - all made from Angola Black granite with thicknesses ranging from 2, 3 and 5 inches - were placed outside next to the main entrances as well as inside the lobbies. These included three directories, 9 benches, 14 planters and six exterior planters.

“The project went fairly smoothly,” said Sturm. “For the installer, the most challenging part was probably the benches and planters - just because the pieces were huge. We had 5-inch slabs that were up to 6 to 7 feet long.”

Photo by Alan Karchmer-- Stone furnishings also brought a professional look into the interior of the buildings.

Additional interior stonework included the restroom vanity tops, which were fabricated from Imperial Red granite with a polished finish. Small tiles of the same material were also inset into the floor as accent pieces.

The installation process

In addition to fabricating the stone pieces, Neka, Inc. was also responsible for installing the stonework. “I was on site once a week reviewing the stonework,” said Sturm. “They got the installation down pat pretty quickly. The jobsite was close to their facility, so if something wasn’t cut right, or if a piece cracked, they literally had the raw slabs in their yard. They have quite the operation. It made for a smooth process.”

Project Manager Ayhan Ozdag of Neka, Inc. agreed that the location of the project made for ideal circumstances. “We were only 8 miles from the jobsite, so it was very convenient,” he said. “If there was a problem, we could fix it right away.”

According to Ozdag, the varying thicknesses of the stone pieces made the work interesting. “The total job took about a year to fabricate, but 90% of it was done in six months,” he said, adding that between 35,000 to 40,000 square feet of stone was utilized in total. “Everything, including the waterjet finish, was all done in-house. The general contractor loved it because many things changed [throughout the job], and we were able to accommodate it without any cost to them.”

Photo courtesy of SmithGroup-- Additional interior stonework included the restroom vanity tops, which were fabricated from Imperial Red granite with a polished finish. Small tiles of the same material were also inset into the floor as accent pieces.

One crew of three workers was used to install the exterior stone cladding, which was secured with stainless steel anchors. “The highest place was about 30 feet from the ground,” explained Ozdag. “We have a big truck crane that we used.”

Additionally, another crew of about five installers was used to lay the exterior paving, while a third crew performed the interior stone installation. A mortar bed was used for the 2-inch-thick pavers, according to the project manager. “The project was nicely detailed by SmithGroup,” he said.

Sturm explained that the initial design process took approximately 16 months, and construction of South of Market was completed in 22 months. “For a project this size, it was pretty quick,” he said. “Everyone was very happy.”

Sidebar: South of Market

Reston Town Center
Reston, VA

Architect: SmithGroup, Washington, DC

Stone Fabricator/Installer: Neka, Inc., Dulles, VA

Stone Suppliers: Marmi Bruno Zanet, Verona, Italy; International Italmarmi, Massa, Italy; and Granicor, St. Augustin, Quebec, Canada

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