When guests and visitors approach the entrance of the Boston Children’s Hospital they are greeted by a “hide and seek” style wall made of Mesabi Black® granite. The stone provides a backdrop for the intricate design of animals and foliage, which the project’s architect and designer calls “Playful Nature in the City.”

The design team knew that the stone chosen for the 1,200 square foot structure would have to provide needed contrast and act as a suitable canvas for the project’s engraved art. Mesabi Black granite was a natural choice. The grain structure and stark grey-black color is something that appeals to many artists. Another advantage of using Mesabi is that it looks great in many different finishes, so you can get a contrast in color without using a different stone. The stone selection was an integral part of the design process, as the architect wanted to integrate natural, durable materials into the design.

Getting the stone to come out the way the designer intended was an enjoyable challenge for the manufacturer, who has worked with the designer on multiple projects. An intricate dot matrix stenciling and sandblasting process was used to get 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 provided to the manufacturer in a vector format, which allowed them to be converted to a mask that was then applied to the stone and sandblasted. A great deal of coordination was required to ensure that the artwork looked exactly as the architect intended. Once the artwork was perfected the rest was up to the craftsman in the manufacturer’s facility. With over 200 pieces of granite, and unique images on each piece, they had to layout and line up each adjacent piece to ensure that the full image flowed across the entire block.

The sheer size of the wall also complicated the job. Since the wall was so long and the graphics at such a high resolution, the wall had to be broken up into sections. Having to make sure each section was scaled correctly and the steps to create the halftone pattern had to be identical on each section to make sure the final graphics matched.

While other stones were discussed during the design process, the choice to use Mesabi Black was never in doubt. Long-term maintenance of the ANSI/NSC 373 certified stone is minimal and the art is expected to stand the test of time and delight visitors for many years to come.