(February 2011) Since 2007 Washington D.C. has a new exhibition venue – with a difference: situated in an inner courtyard, the atrium is vertically enclosed by a glass roof and has a most interesting water, plant and natural stone oasis in its centre court. We are talking about the Reynolds Centre, home of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.
The implementation of stone in the inner court won a Tucker Design Award in 2010.
The glazing was the architectural inspiration of Foster + Partners and gives the interior space light as well as an interesting contrast: the wavelike roof formations stand in complete juxtaposition to the classically stern stone façade. Around the brook space is provided for trees and bushes.
The contrasts resume in the border of white marble around the planters: the massive stone appears heavy on the one hand, but on the other hand soft and light what with its rounded edges and slanted sides. In some places the benches along the water scrim and planters present themselves as platforms providing seating for the weary visitor.
Construction in massive stone would have been too heavy to be carried by the ground floor construction, so thin slabs were used which rest on a metal frame.
Again a contrast between the glowing marble and tonal-variation from pearl to silver grey coloured stone facades, the flooring was made of flamed Cold Spring Black and Mesabi Black granites.
Stone was provided by Vermont Quarries and Cold Spring Granite. Construction was carried out by Lorton Stone LLC, landscaping by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol.
Contrasts – in this case between static and moving – also define the Sun Valley Pavilion in Sun Valley, Idaho. It is a modern arena for musical performances, nestled against the mountains of one of the U.S.A.’s prime resort areas. Construction in unadulterated natural stone blends in with the surroundings. Roman travertine was used.
Plasticity of the roof construction seems to float and provides effective cover from the elements but also transports acoustics from the inside out into the open surroundings where music can be enjoyed by nature-lovers and picnickers free of charge.
The static construction of the stone wall, the front side of which is essentially split-faced, conveys the impression of unadulterated natural rock and blends in with the natural environment. Open joints enhance the rough and rugged impression. The facility includes a water cascade in travertine and a pond as well as four huge stone blocs honed and engraved, which bear the names of the sponsors.
The 3,000 m² (33,000’²) stone surfaces were supplied by Maritti Carlo of Italy, value added by Kepco+ and planning by Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton Architectura P.A. and FTL Design Engineering Studio.
Harmonious and magnificent, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity in Santa Paula, California is the centre of Thomas Aquinas College campus – a place of study for aspiring teachers of the Catholic faith.
The classic elements of Italian renaissance and the Spanish Mission are reflected in the chapel’s construction. This is true also for the materials chosen: more than 20 types of the finest natural stone, mostly Carrara marble. The client undertook several field trips to Italy to meticulously chose the stone types and supervise work on the columns and statues. The Pope approved the plans personally in 2003. The ground stone was blessed in Rome.
The main façade is reminiscent of the ancient triumphal arch entry with a Corinthian pediment above. Indiana limestone columns intersect the plastered walls vertically. Statues of Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas line the entrance. They are made of Carrara marble, as is the statue of the Holy Mother above throning 2.5 m (8′) high.
On the interior, monolithic 20 Botticino marble shafts line the nave and are complemented by 82 marble pilasters subdividing the walls. The splendour of the marble continues in the 32′ diameter dome hovering 72′ above ground level. The extension of the nave reveals the apse, and, in its centre, the Carrara marble altar with Solomonic columns beneath the baldachin. The four Carrara marble side altars are surrounded by altering Rosso Levanto and Rosso Laguna marble columns and the floor pattern complements the colonnades in Calacatta Tirreno, Botticino Classica and Emperador Scura, reverberating the structural order to ceiling level, and mirroring its subdivisions. Escutcheons adorn the flooring of the nave. Several elements such as the baldachin make reference to St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.
Architect Duncan G. Stroik LLC was responsible for planning and design. Stone was provided by Bybee Stone Co and Italian-based Savema S.P.A. as well as Tone Consulting die Roberto Pagliari. Stone masonry work was carried out by Cleveland Marble and the Hispano-American Talleres de Arte Granda.
Tucker Design Awards are bestowed for excellence in the use of natural stone in design and construction biannually by the US-American Building Stone Institute (BSI), dedicated to public relations and continuing education in the branch since 1919.
Submissions for next year’s awards are being accepted until August 19th from around the globe. It is, however, expected of contestants, that they attend the award-winning ceremonies in the USA. The prize is the honour. For more information visit the BSI website.
Photos: Building Stone Institute
Other 2010 awards for building with natural stone:
Pilgram-Preis, Austria (German)
Premios Macael, Spain (Spanish)
National Kitchen and Bathroom Association, New Zealand
Pinnacle Awards, Marble Institute of America, USA
American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), USA
Natural Stone Awards, Great Britain