Located in Richardson, TX, the Spring Creek Nature Area contains 180 acres of virgin old-growth hardwood forest that dates back to the time of the Caddo Indians and the City’s founding families, strategically located adjacent to the fast-growing urban environment of CityLine. For a recent renovation project, an artist was tasked with providing a visually engaging entrance experience at two separate corners of the nature area and to see it through to its fulfillment. This was done with the use of natural stone.
“The vision for this project is as a natural sanctuary, to be held in perpetuity with multi-use trails within an energetic urban environment,” said artist Brad J Goldberg. “A rare preserved ecosystem that provides a natural oasis for generations to come within the heart of one of Dallas/Fort Worth’s most dynamic development corridors.”
Along with Goldberg, DCBA Landscape Architects was selected for the project, as well as Dee Brown Inc. of Richardson, TX, for the installation. Goldberg led the design effort in collaboration with the landscape architects. “With a great amount of open thinking and a vision toward the future, the City selected the initial conceptual study for the two pedestrian entrances that came from the artist through the project evolved naturally over the three-year course of the design, fabrication and installation,” said Goldberg.
The design consists of two portal sculptures, one for each corner of the nature preserve. Sculptural forms with cut-outs in the shape of a leaf create the portals, which collectively are named “Sylvan Portals.”
The two portal sculptures were fabricated out of Kenoran Sage granite, supplied by Coldspring, located in Cold Spring, MN. The work additionally is comprised of long seat walls that “ground” the sculptures into the landscape and granite seating elements in the shape of leaves provide users of the nature area with a place to rest.
One of the unique aspects of the project is leaving the drill marks intact on the quarry blocks as the primary texture of the work. The blocks were quarried in Ontario, Canada, to the specifications laid out in Goldberg’s drawings and Coldspring’s shop drawings. A 4- x 4-foot x various length module with drill marks on both sides was employed for the project. One of the challenges during the quarrying process was that it took place during one of the coldest winters in recent memory.
Ultimately, 8,250 cubic feet of quarried material was shipped to Coldspring’s plant and an exacting fabrication of the blocks proceeded with some of the largest blocks being 4 x 4 x 14 feet. Following a number of months of fabrication, a well-planned out sequence of shipping the blocks to Texas ensued. The two corner entrance areas were each approximately 20,000 square feet, with the heights of the portals measuring 20 and 16 feet, respectively.
Dee Brown Inc., the artist’s most trusted installer with years of successful projects between them, mobilized to the site where piers, foundations and site layout had been performed by the general contractor based on construction drawings prepared by the landscape architect. A great amount of care was taken to preserve the many existing trees on both sites and the sage-colored green granite was selected to blend with and complement the colors of the forest.
Blocks were offloaded at the site by the Dee Brown team of three masons with a 160-ton crane and set into place with a tolerance of 1/8 of an inch. As specified by the CDC stone structural engineer, Ken Bounds, the large granite blocks were hoisted into place and set with ½-inch joints using stainless steel all-thread pins and Hilti epoxy with a full bed of mortar. With great skill and patience all of the blocks were successfully installed without incident.
“I feel fortunate to know Brad, to see his concept move from idea through fabrication to installation; then see that idea reach its reality,” said Rob Barnes III, president and CEO of Dee Brown, Inc. “Brad has a knowledge and understanding of natural material and the equipment utilized to fabricate it, and work it; he has an innate ability to test the limits of possibility, to work outside of a box, free from the constraints we as stonemasons typically have to work within. Working with him is inspiring. In his work nature is ever present, there are no duplicates, there are no norms and it is always challenging. With his ability as a sculptor he has taught several of our key supervisors and several stonemasons how to utilize different tools. Working with him has taught several of our management personnel a different way to look at things. As a whole working with him has made us better. This Spring Creek Nature Area project has a total greater than its sum of parts, it’s a creation that finds its meaning with the nature around it as well as the history behind it. His creations don’t have a shelf life, they are built to stand the test of time.” Final grading, landscaping and lighting were added following the stone erection and the project was dedicated in November of 2019. cstd
Spring Creek Nature Area
Artist: Brad J Goldberg, Dallas, TX
Stone Installer: Dee Brown, Inc., Richardson, TX
Landscape Architects: DCBA Landscape Architects, Plano, TX