TexaStone Rose Debuts in Civic Design

January 7, 2009
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Photos by ©Craig Blackmon, FAIA/Courtesy of Holzman Moss Architecture-- TexaStone Rose limestone, supplied through TexaStone Quarries of Garden City, TX, recently made its debut in a civic project, bringing together the design of the Cedar Hill Government Center in Cedar Hill, TX, which houses the city, school district and police department offices and facilities under one roof.


TexaStone Rose limestone, quarried by TexaStone Quarries of Garden City, TX, recently brought together the design of the Cedar Hill Government Center in Cedar Hill, TX, which houses the city, school district and police department offices and facilities under one roof - a first for the state of Texas. The material has since been used for other applications, but this is where it made its first appearance for a large civic project, according to Brenda Edwards, owner and General Manager of TexaStone Quarries.

“We had already done some residential projects [with TexaStone Rose], but never a large civic job,” she said. “And it came out beautifully.”

The design of the structure was developed through the efforts of two architectural firms, Wiginton Hooker Jeffry Architects of Dallas, TX, and Holzman Moss Architecture of New York, NY. The main project goals were to unify the three different agencies into one structure, to link the new building to its past and to incorporate green and sustainable practices into the design.

Choosing TexaStone Rose

Before selecting the TexaStone Rose limestone, another local material had also been considered, according to Brad Lukanic AIA, NCARB, LEED AP and Principal of Holzman Moss Architecture in New York, NY, which served as the design architect of the project; Wiginton Hooker Jeffry Architects of Dallas, TX, was the architect of record in the project. “In the beginning we did a mock-up with the TexaStone Rose and Cedar Hill Crème [both from TexaStone Quarries],” he explained. “Cedar Hill is a premier city, so we asked ourselves, ‘What does that mean?’ Using the crème or a yellow-colored limestone would have been commonplace, so the city decided on the rose.”

When that decision was made, special attention still had to be given during material selection. “At the quarry, only the rose pieces could be selected since the stone varies with large intrusions of white and yellow,” said Malcolm Holzman, FAIA and Partner at Holzman Moss Architecture.

To achieve the design objectives, 40,000 square feet of TexaStone Rose limestone is utilized throughout the structure, and 13 different sizes of the TexaStone Rose limestone are used in five different facade categories.

The Design

Along with the stone selection process, much thought and care went into the design of the building. For the City of Cedar Hill, the building would represent how local government can serve its community more efficiently by working in lower operating costs.

The government center would accommodate three entities, therefore a major objective for the architects would be to unify the independent municipal agencies. “This concept would promote maximum efficiency of city government and administration while reducing financial burden for the citizens it serves,” said Lance Melton, AIA and Vice President of Wiginton Hooker Jeffry Architects, adding that green building design principles were utilized to ensure that future generations of citizens would inherit an environmental benefit as well.

All the pattern elements help bring the building to life, according to Malcolm Holzman, FAIA and Partner at Holzman Moss Architecture. “The erection of varied combinations provides articulated surfaces in the strong Texas sunlight, “ he said.

Although Cedar Hill is considered a growing and transforming city, the building design also needed to pay tribute to the community’s history, explained Project Manager Patty Chen, AIA and Principal at Holzman Moss Architecture. “The design had to be respectful of the past but forward thinking,” she said.

“In order to link Cedar Hill’s rugged frontier past with its present enterprising image, the architects’ plan called for the use of local materials, regional symbols and the surrounding landscape in unexpected ways,” said Holzman.

The field of the exterior walls is a random ashlar pattern.

Applying the Stone to the Design

To integrate sustainable practices, unify all three agencies and link the new structure to its past, 40,000 square feet of TexaStone Rose limestone is used throughout the exterior and interior of the building, which totals more than 115,000 square feet. “This established the permanence for each of the three agencies within the building,” said Melton.

Additionally, boulders and flagstone paving are employed on the front and back porch terraces, which are areas that will be used for community gathering. “They were randomly placed to relate the building to the natural, undisturbed portions of the site,” said Melton.

Since the single structure involved three separate entities, all three had different budgets. This, however, did not impact the way the materials were applied. “With the patterning, we developed an application to use the stone in economical ways,” said Eddie Kung, LEED AP and Principal at Malcolm Holzman Architecture. “The school district had a lower budget than the city and could only afford ashlar. The disparity in budgets could have been apparent in the facades of the buildings. Instead the design spreads 13 different sizes of stone in five different facade categories across all of the buildings.”

The 5-foot-tall cornice utilizes six smooth sawn varying sizes of stone. For the cornice, elements are the coping, crenellations and dentils. Meanwhile, the field is primarily random ashlar with no dimension smaller than 2 inches. The field accent is formed from wallpaper-like patterned bands formed from 22- x 22-inch split-face units in two to four course heights. The watertable and windowsills are comprised of smooth-cut stone pieces projecting from the face of the neighboring stone anywhere from 0 to 4 inches. Strong shadow lines are achieved by horizontal bands that interrupt the field and protrude by 2 to 4 inches. Finally, the base is formed of large 42- x 22- x 8-inch rough-back stone pieces.

Both architecture firms agreed that having the installer do a full-scale mock-up prior to the installation offset any questions to what would be the outcome of the finished project. “We reviewed the mason’s work on the mock-up and made adjustments,” said Project Manager Patty Chen, AIA and Principal at Holzman Moss Architecture, adding that this was especially important when seeing how the curtain wall system would react to the texture.

“Once the pattern was established, it had to be consistent as it wrapped the building. A lot of effort was invested in communicating how the pattern turned the corner,” said Chen.

Holzman added that all the pattern elements help bring the building to life. “There was an effort to have different sizes and textures,” he said. “The erection of varied combinations provides articulated surfaces in the strong Texas sunlight. Smooth sawn blocks form a continuous stepped 5-foot-band along the top of the three structures, while rusticated blocks form the building’s base. In between, ashlar patterned blocks form a field with random placement of larger blocks, belt courses and special windowsill units. Large vertical windows regularly punctuate the stone. Even the flattest part of the building produces shadows. “

TexaStone Rose limestone is also carried into the interior, forming the perimeter walls.

Additionally, boulders and flagstone paving are employed on the front and back porch terraces, which are areas that are used for community gathering. “They were randomly placed to relate the building to the natural, undisturbed portions of the site,” said Melton.

TexaStone Rose limestone is also carried into the interior, forming the perimeter walls.

The Installation

Melton explained that since this project was publicly funded, the masonry contract - ultimately awarded to DMG Masonry of Arlington, TX - was competitively bid, based upon qualifications and price. “Ensuring the mason completely understood the design and installation techniques prior to the start of the stone installation was a challenge,” he said.

However, both architecture firms agreed that having the installer do a full-scale mock-up prior to the installation offset any questions to what would be the outcome of the finished project. “We reviewed the mason’s work on the mock-up and made adjustments,” said Chen, adding that this was especially important when seeing how the curtain wall system reacted to the texture. “The hardest part was getting the grout color to match the stone color. The mortar color was inconsistent across samples, so it had to be redone to match. When the mock-up was approved, the mason had a reference available to ensure the expectations were met.”

The stone installation for this project was completed in January 2008, and the new building was dedicated on September 30, 2008.

“The result met and even exceeded our client’s expectation for the project,” said Melton. “For many years to come, this project will be a model for designers, quarries and masons.”

The stone installation began in July 2007 and was completed in January 2008. Overall, building construction for the Cedar Hill Government Center began in July 2006 and was completed in August 2008. The dedication ceremony took place on September 30, 2008.

“The place has been a wild success,” said Holzman. “Morale is way up, especially in the police department. The city is also able to explain that they’ve saved several million doing a single complex for all three agencies and not three separate.”   

Sidebar: Cedar Hill Government Center

Cedar Hill, TX

Architect of Record: Wiginton Hooker Jeffry Architects, Dallas, TX

Design Architect: Holzman Moss Architecture, New York, NY

Stone Supplier: TexaStone Quarries, Garden City, TX (TexaStone Rose limestone)

Stone Installer: DMG Masonry, Arlington, TX

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