Building a sense of home: Regional sandstone used at TN park
Known for its picturesque mountains and rivers, Chattanooga, TN, is a place for outdoor living. It is also a city that’s heart is based on strong community values. With this in mind, city officials sought to create a home-like environment for residents, as well as visitors, when revitalizing a local park. To accomplish this objective, they selected regional sandstone to form outcroppings and benches – overall developing an inviting atmosphere for the new Miller Park.
“The motivation driving the entire Miller Park project was something we loved from the start,” said Patrick Wells, CEO of Majestic Stone, the stone supplier. “The park sits right in the middle of downtown Chattanooga, but the preexisting park was outdated and underutilized. When the city decided to lead the charge on the renovation, they did so in the spirit of boosting community engagement — using the park to connect what had become a slightly disjointed urban corridor.”
Wells explained that the original park had been in existence for about five decades and was the passion project of an influential local attorney. “While it was initially celebrated and used frequently, over the years it lost its luster mainly due to the fact that its sunken water feature design gave it the feel of a place you’d go if you wanted to get away from other people,” he said. “The complete opposite of encouraging community.”
Chattanooga has been in the business of civic renaissance since the late 1980s. What originally began as a riverfront upgrade has spread across much of the downtown area, explained Wells. “Miller Park sits at the nexus of two areas of urban renewal that have been inching toward one another: the riverfront overhaul coming from the north end of the city and much of the Innovation District coming from the south side,” he said. “The Miller Park renovation serves as a tie that binds these two massive developments — connecting much of the city.”
From the start, city officials maintained the concept of “place” with the park redesign. “They wanted everything from the design, to the materials, to the functionality of the new park to foster a strong sense of place that all Chattanoogans could enjoy,” said Wells. “And that’s why the stone we quarry at Majestic Stone made for such a great project fit.
“The type of stone we unearth at Majestic Stone is something people in our area come in contact with regularly,” Wells went on to say. “Whether people consciously realize it or not, it’s a material that we encounter in nature, as well as in various developments. Our stone is something we’re all familiar with, which is why the city wanted to use it in the renovation of Miller Park. They wanted the entire park to be a place where locals could feel at home. Not a mere park, but our park, something we connect with on a deeper level — and our sandstone was an ideal product to help support that organic feel.”
The design called for a stone outcropping as a focal point of the outdoor space. “Chattanooga is known for its rivers and mountains, its outdoor living,” said Wells. “Tens of thousands of people come to Chattanooga every year to see natural attractions like Rock City. So the city decided to incorporate a rock formation, or a rock outcropping, into the design of the park to showcase the staple of our city.”
Majestic Stone produced large pieces of Tennessee gray sandstone – with thicknesses of 6 to 7 inches and averaging 5 x 5 feet in size – for the stone outcropping feature. Additionally, limestone veneer was applied around the base of the outcroppings.
The sandstone was also used for benches. In total, 500 square feet of the material was used. A large crane was brought on site to handle the oversized pieces and set them into place.
“Collaboration with quarries, the source of material, can help bring new designs and unique projects to life,” said Wells. “As a quarry operator with a growing fabrication facility, we are more equipped today than we’ve ever been to create unique pieces and one-of-a-kind projects. Collaboration with architects, designers, contractors and distributor partners have given us the opportunity to take part in great community projects like this one.”