IDX Systems Corp., a major U.S. healthcare information technology solutions provider, recently renovated its corporate headquarters in South Burlington, VT. The 220,000-square-foot expansion, which incorporated the use of quartzite for its interior and exterior, included the addition of new office space and a new visitors' center.

“The goal was to create a world class conferencing center and to preserve views of Lake Champlain,” said Jesse Beck, President of Freeman French Freeman architects of Burlington, VT. “IDX wanted to create a high-tech environment with a nice interior and exterior for their customers

to visit.”

According to Landscape Architect Keith Wagner of Wagner McCann Studio in Burlington, VT, South Bay Quartzite[r]‚ -- manufactured by Champlain Stone, Ltd. of Warrensburg, NY -- was selected for its color. “The color of South Bay Quartzite[r] created a handsome mix, which complemented the golden ochres and beige color of the existing building and the proposed building wing,” said Wagner, who added that the stone was specified in random sizes.

According to Jane Bennett, who handles media relations for Champlain Stone Ltd., the company provided over 300 tons of South Bay Quartzite[r]‚ for the project. “The mason installers did a significant amount of sawing on this material to facilitate the look they wanted,” said Bennett. “The installer ordered predominantly special order slab material. They supplemented that with special order ashlar and flagging, as well as our standard specification ashlar, flagging and wall stone.” The composition of the stone makes it quite hard, according to Bennett. “Quartzitic sandstone is very hard because of the quartz content -- weighing 152.7 pounds per cubic foot.”

The company describes the color of the stone as mostly tan with advancing and receding shades of antique white, ice blue, amber and dark and light browns. It possesses a heavily textured natural face with smoother split faces.” The stone was the first ever quarried by Champlain Stone, Ltd., founded in 1982 by its president, Michael B. Morey.

The installation of the stonework for both the interior and exterior took about seven men a total of four to six weeks to complete, according to Jim Bayne of J B Stone in St. Albans, VT. The material was adhered to the building using Eaglebond mortar, and Bayne reported that there were no major difficulties. The toughest challenge, he said, was the fact that they had to carefully field cut the stone to create the desired effect. “We didn't want the small pieces to blend together when a person was standing far away from the wall,” Bayne explained. “We enhanced the square and rectangular pieces to create the illusion that you were much closer to it. Every piece had to be specially made.”

The stone was supplied through Great Northern Stone, which is also owned by Bayne. A total of 95% of the exterior stone was specially fabricated, and the average size of the stone units was 8 x 20 inches, ranging up to 2 x 4 feet. For the interior, all of the stones were cut to size, and implemented with a rough finish in a horizontal veining pattern.

Bluestone was also used in the project. “It was cut in a radial pattern, in a concentric circle, as part of the overall site geometry of the drop-off area,” said Wagner, who added that the natural-cleft Bluestone came in roughly 30- x 44-inch pieces. “The project has received many compliments from not only the client and the users, but also other professional designers.”

Interior stonework

Architects from Griswold, Heckel and Kelly Associates, Inc. (GHK) of Boston, MA, completed the interior stonework of the IDX headquarters. “GHK was trying to communicate the idea of a high-tech company that was staying with their rural roots in Burlington, VT, so the goal was to fuse the high-tech nature of their business with the rugged natural beauty of their home environment,” said Mitchell Cohen, CEO/President of GHK. “In the interior, we used the same stone that the landscape architect used as a way to bring the outside in.” According to Cohen, the interior stone was used as a thin veneer on the walls of the main atrium, which continue up to the employee cafeteria on the second level.

“We thought it was important to use the same stone on the interior as the exterior and even used the same pattern inside that was used outside,” said Cohen. “This was part of our goal -- to keep the exterior design vocabulary flowing inside.” The quartzite, in a natural cleft finish, was used in random coursing, but sizes were generally about 18 inches. Cohen said that there were not any major problems with the project, and that once they made the basic design decisions, “the project proceeded very organically.”

“The IDX folks really loved the space,” said Cohen. “We had earned their trust throughout the process and got them to go out on a limb in terms of a design that was perhaps more complex than was the norm. However, they told us they were glad they trusted us and went the extra mile.”

Beck agreed that the reaction to the project has been outstanding. “Everyone who has visited it complimented on what a unique and interesting place it is,” he said.

Construction of the building lasted approximately one year, from Fall 2002 to Fall of 2003.

End box

IDX Systems Corp. Headquarters
South Burlington, VT

Exterior Architect: Freeman French Freeman Inc., Burlington, VT
Interior Architect: Griswold, Heckel and Kelly Associates, Inc., Boston, MA
Landscape Architect: Wagner McCann Studio, Burlington, VT
Stone Producer: Champlain Stone, Ltd., Warrensburg, NY
Stone Supplier: Great Northern Stone, St. Albans, VT
Stone Installer: J B Stone, St. Albans, VT
General Contractor: Kessel/Duff Corp., South Burlington, VT