Often I ask architects and designers why they favored natural stone for a particular project, and more frequently than not I hear responses such as: “It’s timeless.” “We needed something durable.” “We wanted to use a local material.” These are all excellent reasons, and as members of the natural stone industry, music to our ears. 

In this issue of Stone World, we showcase three unique and diverse projects that feature natural stone in their designs. The material used for each of them was quarried regionally and used in abundance. While all are beautiful and creative uses of stone, the one in particular that stands out to me is the memorial created at the Erlanger Children’s Hospital in remembrance of the young students who lost their lives in a fatal school bus crash that occurred almost three years ago in Chattanooga, TN. You can read the full story beginning on page 38, but to give you some insight, this is a shining example of how natural stone not only provided the enduring qualities needed for the project, but it also was chosen for its natural characteristics.   

Patrick Wells, CEO of Majestic Stone, the stone producer who supplied the local fieldstone and flagstone, explained that the hospital’s design team talked about the sheer strength and longevity of stone and what it means to their community. “If you drive around, you’ll see massive outcroppings,” he said. “It’s a landmark for us. Those were a few reasons they hit on as to why they wanted to use stone.” 

Wells went on to say that the design team also said that the natural material “shows the simplicity and the strength of stone in its raw form and what it stands for. There is a unique beauty to it.”

Varying sizes of the Tennessee stone were stacked to form memorials for each of the six children who lost their life in that bus accident. The real beauty to this story for me is that it is not an elaborate or fancy presentation, but yet the stacked stone arrangements hold special meaning and are symbolic of the strength and courage of the grieving families. The memorial is positioned at the entrance to the hospital. “This marks the road to safety,” said Wells. “It is right at the front door of the hospital. It leads you in. That was another way they wanted to symbolize this memorial. They wanted to tell people that here’s the way to a healthy road to recovery.”

To me, this project is a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But regardless of the material that is chosen, or how it cut and finished, natural stone will always leave a lasting impression – no matter what the project.