The Pinnacle Awards competition is open to natural stone professionals from around the world. These highly coveted awards, which are presented by the Natural Stone Institute (NSI), are given to projects whose beauty, creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship exemplify professional mastery in the use of natural stone in commercial and residential applications. An awards ceremony honoring the 2017 Pinnacle Awards winners was held in at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, during The International Surface Event, earlier this year. The following is a look at the projects that were honored.

2017 Grande Pinnacle Award of Excellence


2017 Grande Pinnacle Award of Excellence


520 W. 28th Street Lobby Feature Wall

New York, NY

STONE FABRICATOR/STONE INSTALLER:  Port Morris Tile & Marble, Bronx, NY  



ARCHITECT OF RECORD:  Ismael Leyva Architects

STONE SUPPLIERS:  Samfet; Santucci Armando (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONE:  Grigio Brasile marble 

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  Envisioned and designed by late renowned architect Zaha Hadid, the 520 W. 28th Street project is a futuristic and upscale residential condominium building developed by New York City real estate firm, Related Companies.

Apart from the stonework in the condominium’s luxurious apartments, the client also commissioned the engineering and execution of an artistic feature stone wall and matching floor design in the lobby area. Artfully carved from Grigio Brasile marble, the wall creates a breathtaking piece of art that expands a dramatic 34 feet across the lobby. This stone was chosen in part due to its highly durable characteristics, as well as its beautiful smoky gray color tones.

The initial phase of the project started with sourcing marble blocks in Greece that were just the right color variations and quantities for the monochromatic design. The next steps involved working closely with Hadid’s team to refine the layouts required to accommodate the sizeable blocks, as well as to allow for proper installation of the large three-dimensional portion of the wall.

From Greece, the stone was shipped to Italy for a highly detailed fabrication process, then carefully transported via airfreight to New York, where the expansive blocks of marble were expertly installed like one big vertical puzzle.

The 520 W. 28th street feature lobby wall project exemplifies unique collaboration of creativity, experience and craftsmanship, and is now a standing landmark that represents how an inspired vision combined with skill and engineering can push stone design to the limits.

Award of Excellence/Commercial Interior


Award of Excellence/Commercial Interior


Brookfield Place Tower 2

Perth, Australia 

STONE SUPPLIER/ STONE FABRICATOR:  Euromarble, Carrara, Italy  


ARCHITECT:  Woods Bagot, Perth Studio

STONE FABRICATOR/STONE SUPPLIER:  Marble + Cement Work Group (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONE QUARRIER:  Antolini Luigi (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONES:  Statuario Venato marble, Nero Zimbabwe granite


Award of Excellence/Commercial Interior


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  Brookfield Place Tower 2 is a 16-story office building in the City Square commercial precinct of the Perth Central business district. Its four-story central podium links the street frontage at the lower level to the spectacular commercial lobby and public realm of the square. Statuario Venato marble was selected to clad the elevators and lobby core, while Nero Zimbabwe granite was used as wall cladding and flooring in the space.

The stone package incorporated intensive client involvement in the sourcing of the stone, especially for the Statuario Venato cladding to the core, which was seen as the focal element of the project. The client, architect and design managers traveled with the stone supplier to Carrara, Italy, to select the three blocks chosen for the core facade, to inspect the stone during processing and then to ultimately approve the dry lay for the whole facade. Inspection and approval of Nero Zimbabwe leather-finished floor tiling and cladding, sourced from Verona, Italy, was also incorporated into this process.

A homogenous stone aesthetic on the outer facades of the core was referred, but no one block was of sufficient mass to provide enough slabs to produce all the cladding. As a solution, an aluminum and fiberglass composite board was fixed to the slabs and then split in a process that provided twice the usable material from this single preferred block.

All slabs were then individually scanned and panelized with each slab typically providing four cladding panels. Careful attention to grain utilization and aesthetics was critical to approval before processing.

An attachment system of Series 316 Stainless Steel was designed to make the connection between the stone/aluminum panels and the stainless steel Unistrut® frame.

Award of Excellence: Commercial Interior


Award of Excellence: Commercial Interior


609 Main

Houston, TX

STONE INSTALLER:  Camarata Masonry Systems Ltd., Houston, TX 


PROJECT ARCHITECT:  Kendall/Heaton Associates, Inc.

STONE SUPPLIER/STONE FABRICATOR:  Savema S.p.A. (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONE CONSULTANT:  ISCS Independent Stone Consulting Swiss SA (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

QUARRIER:  Cava Romana (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONES:  Moca Creme limestone, Lasa marble, Aurisina limestone, Lasa Macchia Vecchia marble, Fusion Fire quartzite, Azul Macauba quartzite, Impala Black granite.


Award of Excellence: Commercial Interior


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  609 Main is a LEED Platinum, 50-story office building occupying a full city block in the heart of the Houston business district.

The project’s congested downtown location necessitated detailed sequencing and just in time delivery of the material. Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. was responsible for the shop drawings, engineering and installation of interior stone cladding, paving and feature panels. All stone was dry laid in Italy, establishing a specific single location for each of the 7,651 pieces of stone.

The architect was focused on atypical angles and their interface with a variety of finishes. The sloping end condition of the 31-foot, 6-inch-tall Moca Cream limestone wall, with its’ 3/4-inch reveal at each course, had to tie in precisely with the sloping glass wall located around the corner. The 11-foot, 3-inch arrowhead spandrel of Moca Cream limestone that towers 20 feet above the lobby floor mirrored the transition of the Aurisina limestone and Lasa Macchia Vecchia marble paving. The attention to angles continues with the antiqued Impala Black granite walls that clad the 50-foot-long parallelogram infinity fountain.

Stone “paintings” comprised of Irish Green and Lapis Blue granites, Lasa marble and Fusion Fire and Azul Macauba quartzites prominently appear as interior artwork panels of book-matched exotic stones that highlight the back walls of the elevator lobbies with their enormous size and precise layout.

In a risky attempt to meet deadlines, two paving installation crews worked simultaneously to meet at the centerline of the revolving door on Main Street, reducing installation by approximately 20 days.

Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


Guoco Tower


STONE INSTALLER:  Masonry Pte. Ltd., Singapore 


ARCHITECT:  Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP

PROJECT ARCHITECT:  Architects 61 Pte Ltd.

STONE SUPPLIER:  Tre Emme Import Export S.R.L.

STONE FABRICATOR:  Ascon Marble and Granite LLC (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONE CONSULTANT:  ISCS Independent Stone Consulting Swiss SA (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONE:  Statuario marble


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  Guoco Tower is the tallest structure in Singapore today. Its main lobby is lavishly clad with one of the most exquisite marbles in the world – Statuario. Being one of the most precious varieties found in Italy, its distinctive white with gray veins often results in dramatic, predominate patterns. This magnificent lobby graced by soaring ceilings has all its faces decorated with the stone.

The client preferred a more subtle gray vein pattern, which is rare, and so the task to attain sufficient quantity to complete the project with the short timeline was practically impossible.  However, an unconventional method of fabrication and installation was designed to fabricate more than 17,000 square feet and bring the client’s vision to life. 

A complex modern production process, including the bonding of aluminum honeycomb backing using special glue permitted thin slicing of the Statuario marble slabs that reduced the overall quantity of select slabs needed to procure the specific veining appearance. This project is claimed to be the first one in Singapore done in composite stone panels in such magnitude.

Masonry sourced and meticulously selected blocks from the Italian quarry with the careful attention of the architect and one of the foremost stone inspectors in the industry. The unique vein characteristics required careful fabrication and dry lay sessions in Dubai to ensure that the desired expectations intended were achieved.

A precise method of installation of the vertically inclined composite panels was the greatest challenge. Advanced planning, careful calculations of shop drawings and pre-drilled aluminum brackets specifically designed to affix the panels were all skillfully administered by Masonry and completed in just four months from procurement of stone to final installation.

Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


The Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center of Paris

Paris, France 



ARCHITECT:  Wilmotte & Associates


STONES:  Massangis Clair Nuance limestone, Rocherons-Comblanchien marbl


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  The Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center is composed of an Orthodox Cathedral, Parish Center, Elementary School and Cultural Center. Designers chose Massengis limestone for its color, durability and luminosity, and Rocherons marble in a flamed finish for its hardness and mechanical properties, which were perfect for landscaping. Both stones are from the Burgundy region of France.

This innovative contemporary design is the first use of stone in linear bands on a curtain wall in France. The stone is presented in an unprecedented way with facets in a linear form, as well as many other forms: slabs, milled, open, half-open, curved, convex or concave, sculpted, grooved and steps. Both flamed and honed finishes also made it possible to achieve different effects.  Nearly 100 templates were drawn and produced.

With each unique piece, it was necessary to create reaming on the side of the profiles to accommodate a stainless-steel insert at the factory. The 35 different profiles are composed of 5,555 linear strips of stone and hang on the metal structure like a coat rack. The structure supports a curtain wall consisting of an alternation of stone and glass.

A versatile profiling machine, along with a system to identify, number and barcode each piece manufactured by number and barcode, were created specifically for this project in order to facilitate the fabrication and scheduling of the installation for the handset stone on the project.

The molded profiles were drilled, glued, dowelled and then attached to two metal plates fixed to the curtain wall. All elements were installed gradually according to their numbers and layouts by means of lateral fixings.

Adapting to the constraints of installation was the biggest challenge, including working within the heart of Paris with a lack of space and limited storage areas.

Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


Boston Children’s Hospital

Boston, MA




STONE INSTALLER:  Fred Salvucci Company

STONE:  Mesabi Black granite


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  A “hide and seek” style stone wall greets visitors to Boston Children’s Hospital that provides the backdrop for an intricate design of animals and foliage, which the project’s architect and designer calls “Playful Nature in the City.”

The grain structure and stark gray-black color of the Mesabi Black granite chosen for the 1,200- square-foot structure provided a suitable canvas with desired durability and necessary contrast for the project’s engraved art. Mesabi Black granite also reacts well to a variety of finishes, resulting in contrast in color without the need to use different stones.

Coldspring manufactured the intricate dot matrix stenciling and sandblasting process that was used to apply the graphics onto the face of the polished stone. The light portions of the image are recessed slightly by sandblasting and white paint is applied to the stone to give the images dimension.

The art files were converted to a mask that was then applied to the stone and sandblasted. With over 200 pieces of granite, and unique high-resolution images on each piece, craftsmen had to layout and line up each adjacent piece to check for consistency in scale and halftone patterns on each section and insure that the final graphic image flowed across the entire block.

While other stones were discussed during the design process, the choice to use Mesabi Black granite was never in doubt.[ Long-term maintenance of the ANSI/NSC373 certified stone is minimal and the art is expected to stand the test of time and delight visitors for many years to come.

Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


Perry World House

Philadelphia, PA

STONE SUPPLIER:  ABC Worldwide Stone, LLC, Philadelphia, PA 


CLIENT:  University of Pennsylvania

ARCHITECT:  1100 Architect


STONE INSTALLER:  Belfi Brothers (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONE:  Renaissance Beige limestone


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  Perry World House is the newest and oldest building at the University of Pennsylvania. The academic building – the new hub for international affairs and global initiatives – merges a historic 19th-century structure with a modern, newly constructed research center with open and flexible spaces. The 17,400-square-foot academic center combines an historic house built in 1851 with a new Renaissance Beige limestone-clad structure. A portion of the original house was salvaged and reconstructed, per historic documentation, and its faux limestone stucco is referenced in the new addition, which is clad inside and out in real limestone.

In addition to the project’s adaptive reuse, the Perry World House is on track to achieve LEED Silver certification with its many sustainable design features, such as the maximization of daylighting, storm water management with a 90% capture rate of the average annual rainfall and use of recycled materials.

Renaissance Beige limestone was ultimately selected because of its flexural strength permitting the use of thinner panels. A total of 1,850 cubic feet was used per its natural formation. Vein-Cut Honed was selected for the facade and roofline, while Cross-Cut Honed was selected for the interior walls and floors. The natural linear grain of this limestone provided unique visual interest that was incorporated into the final design.

The complex form of the structure, combined with the necessary exactitude involved in dealing with large panels of limestone, required an innovative approach to stone engineering. Typical exterior panels were 2 inches thick and 34 inches wide, but varied in length from 36 to 108 inches. Several trips to Germany to hand-pick the material ensured consistency of selection. To avoid any potential on-site problems, a multi-team use of several 3D software programs thoroughly managed and verified the early engineering phases, mitigated any error in installation tolerances that could cause scheduling delay and cost.

Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


Riverside Roundabout

Los Angeles, CA 



ART, ARCHITECT AND LANDSCAPE:  Greenmeme Art & Design Studio

STONE INSTALLER:  Cleveland Marble of Los Angeles (Natural Stone Institute Member Company) 

STONE:  Academy Black granite


Award of Excellence: Commercial Exterior


PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Riverside Roundabout is the first modern roundabout in Los Angeles and will help control smog and exhaust impacts on surrounding residents. The centerpiece of the roundabout provides an artistic experience through nine egg-shaped stone sculptures constructed of Academy Black® granite from California. Measuring 8 to 12 feet tall, the sculptures feature the faces of randomly chosen individuals from the community.

A significant amount of coordination between the architect and granite supplier and fabricator ensured the artistic vision came to life. The granite fabricator and supplier used the designer’s electronic files to create the cutting information needed to fabricate the sculptural pieces. The architect’s detailed drawing provided piece numbered, assembled egg sculptures. Each piece was laid out into slab form per the design. The granite supplier selected and cut the slabs with CNC cutting equipment to provide full utilization of the slab. Sculpture pieces were then epoxied together per the design drawings.

The roundabout serves as a storm water bio-retention landscape, with the capacity to capture and treat a 10-year rainfall event (500,000 gallons) off an adjacent bridge and roads. The system also includes a 25,000-gallon cistern supplying a water feature, as well as a solar tracking photovoltaic system powering irrigation, lighting and the artwork. A 100%-sustainable project, all parts of the granite slabs were used to create the eggs, with the remaining parts of the slab creating a stone border around the roundabout.

Award of Excellence: Residential


Award of Excellence: Residential


V House

Albemarle County, VA 

STONE FABRICATOR: 3D Stone, Inc., Bloomington, IN 


ARCHITECT:  Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton Architects

ARCHITECT:  Jonathan Lee Architects


STONE SUPPLIER/STONE QUARRIER:  Indiana Limestone Company (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONE SUPPLIER:  Johnston & Rhodes Bluestone (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONE INSTALLER:  Empire Marble & Granite Co.

STONES:  Rustic Buff Indiana limestone, Buckingham Black slate, Briar Hill sandstone, Pennsylvania Bluestone


Award of Excellence: Residential


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  V House is the fulfillment of the owner’s lifelong dream of building a Palladian villa that incorporates contemporary touches and seamlessly integrates current technologies and practices. Landscaping ties the house to the setting and provides a multi-level progression from the entry courtyard to the west lawn that features cascading terraced gardens, fountain, pool, sculptures, stone walls and pyramids.

Limestone’s timelessness and versatility make it a natural fit for a home inspired by history. Its sculptural qualities enhance classical detailing, evident in V House’s entablature, pediments, columns and mantels. The stone’s cut and color range differentiate the residence’s layers of sophistication; finishes grow more refined moving from the landscape walls to the building’s exteriors and then to the interiors.

The narrow color range of the natural cleft limestone utilized on the buildings is complemented by classical detailing executed in highly refined cut Indiana limestone. Inside, the use of stone extends to floors and the elliptical stair, and culminates with the highest level of detail in the cut marble mantel with a Greek key frieze in the library/dining room at the core of the house. Stone acts as a unifying design element at V House, creating a layered and harmonious transition between interior and exterior spaces. The visual appeal and texture of stone complement a palette of enduring materials, providing an elegant backdrop for antiques, sculptures, artwork and books.

The entablature, columns, pediments, balustrades and window/door surrounds were all executed in Indian limestone, while paving materials of Pennsylvania Bluestone, hand-molded brick and sandstone cobbles were the perfect choice for the exterior material palette.

Sustainable material choices like slate roofing and 6-inch stone veneer, along with the construction methods employed, respond to the owners’ request that the house be built to last for 300 years with minimal maintenance.

Award of Excellence: Residential


Award of Excellence: Residential


Baan Phetkasem


STONE SUPPLIER/STONE FABRICATOR/STONE INSTALLER:  Stones and Roses International Co., Ltd., Samutprakarn, Thailand: 


ARCHITECT:  Architects 49 House Design

STONE QUARRIER:  Enjoy Stone (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONE QUARRIER:  Aire Marmores (Natural Stone Institute Member Company)

STONES:  Ash Gray basalt, Cream limestone


Award of Excellence: Residential


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  Owned by a young entrepreneur, this residence is all about space: simple shapes and extra high ceilings. The external facade features a Cream limestone in large panels, which contrasts with the exposed concrete main facade. The interior features a large staircase clad with Ash Gray basalt. This is the main feature of the house: a staircase to heaven. The staircase leads to a mezzanine floor which allows the ceiling height to extend further up to the second floor.  The handrail is detailed to include an LED lighting strip which illuminates the staircase, letting it stand out in this large space. A long skylight opening brings in natural light to the staircase side wall.

The color of the basalt reacts to the light in an array of shades from black to light gray, and the outline of the staircase cuts the light creating shadows and highlights in dramatic graphic shapes.  Basalt provides an obvious sense of nature and minimalist serenity. At the top of the staircase, basalt walls connect with roughly textured wood wall panels and wood flooring. These two natural materials magically blend to produce a sense of perfection despite their organic existence, making this staircase and stairwell a true piece of art. Basalt is one of the most difficult stone materials to work with and for this project, required factory dry laying to obtain a harmonious color transition and smooth surface.

Award of Excellence: Renovation/Restoration


Award of Excellence:  Renovation/Restoration


Recreation Pier Baltimore

Baltimore, MD 

STONE SUPPLIER/STONE FABRICATOR:  Marmi Natural Stone, Norcross, VA 


INTERIOR DESIGN:  Patrick Sutton Associates

ARCHITECT:  Sagamore Development

STONE INSTALLER:  ProFast Flooring

STONES:  Galala limestone, Millie Brown limestone, Imperial Grey limestone, Calacatta Manhattan marble, Graffite marble, Statuarietto marble, Calacatta Gold marble


Award of Excellence:  Renovation/Restoration


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  Sagamore Pendry Baltimore is a luxury 128-room, adaptive-reuse and over-water hotel in the heart of the Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore, MD. The head house formally known as the Recreation Pier is an iconic landmark brick Beaux Arts building.

The Recreation Pier was originally built in 1914 as a commercial pier. It also had recreation facilities, including a ballroom that served for decades as a meeting place for young people from the Point’s many ethnic groups until it finally closed down in 1937.

The plans for the hotel proposed building a first-floor pool on the edge of the pier, adding a restaurant and whiskey bar, and providing a boat docking facility. The interior was restored under the designer’s watchful eye and vision. The vision would be to “celebrate the architecture of the building and preserve as much of it as possible and to glamorize its industrial past, as well as balance a lot of the old with new elements.”

Based on its history and original design, natural stone was a perquisite to celebrating the building’s longevity and promising a sound future. The 12-inch-high marble baseboards, along with the full book-matched walls, offer a stunning background for the elegant bathtubs, full slab marble showers and high ceilings with views from every window. Other furniture pieces were adorned with stone to integrate them into the architecture and history of the building and surrounding area.

The public spaces relied heavily on natural stone, creating hallways, lobbies and flooring in bars and restaurants. Again, the designer relied on stone because of its grandeur and appropriateness for the historical building as well as its reliability, performance over time and sense of permanence.

Award of Excellence: Renovation/Restoration


Award of Excellence:  Renovation/Restoration


Buckingham County Primary & Elementary Schools at the Carter G. Woodson Education Complex

Dillwyn, VA

STONE FABRICATOR:  H.E. Satterwhite, Richmond, VA 



LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT:  Waterstreet Studio

STONE SUPPLIER:  Buckingham Slate Company

STONE INSTALLER:  M3 Marshall Contracting & Masonry

STONE:  Buckingham slate


Award of Excellence:  Renovation/Restoration


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  The Buckingham slate selected for Buckingham County’s newly renovated and restored primary and elementary school campus serves to tell children the story of Buckingham County’s cultural history, geological past and sustainable future.

The project recognizes the positive social, ecological and economic benefits of reusing local sites and structures and the durable, hand-crafted stone reinforced this mission to specify materials that would support a community setting for decades to come. This commitment to reinvestment also supported an increase in space utilization through consolidation and an aim to promote healthy living to its students.  

Select demolition, renovation and new construction on two former school sites led to the creation of a “one school” complex with the center of the campus as shared, communal learning spaces around an outdoor piazza featuring Buckingham slate and stone.

Indoors, the stone appears prominently in large gathering spaces – such as in the Community Commons and monumental stair – reaffirming the community’s connection to its natural context.  Outdoors, a rain screen cladding system with custom slate shingles emphasizes the sculptural qualities of the architecture. Another unique use of the slate is found in the slate-lined storm water conveyance channel cutting through the entry plaza. The channel visibly measures the size of storms, allowing students to understand the occurrence and volume of water, associated with each storm event and apply real-world skills to natural contexts.

The design team worked with key stakeholders, scientists and a pediatrician to set goals for health and well-being that would integrate healthy eating, food stewardship and physical activity to seamlessly become part of the school day. Buckingham slate plays an important role in enlivening the children’s everyday landscape, serving the architecture and learning curriculum equally well through large expressions like benches, shingles, counters and honed tiles, as well as smaller instances of stacked stone.