With the Pinnacle Awards of Excellence the Natural Stone Institute (NSI) honors stone companies around the world for projects that stand out above the rest. They prizes are annually bestowed to “projects whose beauty, creativity, ingenuity, and craftsmanship exemplify professional mastery in the use of natural stone in commercial and residential applications,“ as said on the webpage. Submissions are open only for NSI members, but may also be projects from outside the US.
The Grande Pinnacle Award is given to the best project across all categories. This award is bestowed upon the Natural Stone Institute member company and also includes a trip to Marmomac in Verona, Italy for the architect or designer of record for the project. The fair is the sponsor.
In this 2022 issue, for the first time, the awards had Kitchen/Bath as category. The number of winners in every category may vary from year to year.
Online list of winners and project videos
Grande Pinnacle Award: Picco Group, Concord, Ontario, Canada: Utopia, Grand Rapids, MI: The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is home to a new and immersive experience. ”Utopia” features the unique and diverse ethnic faces of women from around the world in Jaume Plensa’s signature style. The expansive floor-to-ceiling walls are 6.1 m x 27.5 m and made from Blanc Absolute marble. No single piece is identical to the next. Grounded and permanent, the art installations’ challenges and execution were only surpassed by its ultimate presence and natural beauty.
Architectural Carving/Lettering/Sculpture. Rugo Stone, Lorton, VA: John F. Kennedy Center Hall of Nations Engraving, Washington, DC: The project involved replacing 12 large 5’x5’ marble panels on the existing donor wall in the building, including re-engraving the existing names as well as adding new names on the replacement marble panels. The first challenge was to match the existing white marble as the original quarry was closed. The Rugo team found a closely matching white marble from the Carrara region and special ordered slabs for the project. The second challenge was to match the existing engravings. The original inscriptions on the wall were hand drawn, calligraphic Roman typeface which was designed by the original carver. There is no digital equivalent for the original font and the original font had certain nuances and inconsistencies which would not be present in any computerized font.
Architectural Carving/Lettering/Sculpture. Rugo Stone, Lorton, VA: National Museum of the United States Army, Fort Belvoir, VA: For the museum dedicated to the US Army, the Rugo Stone team sandblasted, engraved, and installed the Medal of Honor wall with roughly 3,000 names, the Lobby Honor Wall with over 250 names, and the Focal Point wall with hand V-cut letters. The selected granite is the purest black granite with no tonal color range or veining, which allows expert engraving to read in a very legible manner on the reflective surface. The engraving on this project came with several challenges. The font selected by the owner was a custom font, which was not ideal for engraving, and the height of the text was considered small for sandblasting. The size of the panels was too big to fit inside the automatic sandblast machine.
Architectural Carving/Lettering/Sculpture. Rugo Stone, Lorton, VA: Venerable Cornelia Connelly Shrine, Philadelphia, PA: This small but highly artistic project was designed to honor the accomplishments of Sister Cornelia Connelly, the American-born foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious institute. Rugo Stone installed a beautiful 3’ tall Bianco Carrara statue of the Holy Child Jesus in the shrine. Working with a client supplied digital rendering, Rugo’s stone fabricator created a full-scale clay model which was 3D scanned to produce a digital model and then programmed into a CNC machine. While the CNC carving process completed about 80% of the carving, an experienced marble sculptor performed the rest of the carving by hand using hammer and chisels, especially for the most intricate details of the statue.
Commercial Exterior. Grassi Pietre, Nanto, Italy: Leonildo Pieropan Winery, Soave, Italy: Located in the hills a few steps from the walls of the medieval castle in Soave (Verona), Italy, this new winery is a dialogue between history and landscape; between contemporary forms, innovative technological solutions, and traditional materials. Sustainability is the key word. To accomplish the project, an edge of the existing hill was increased by more than seven million cubic feet to hide the large volume necessary to the construction, letting the building fit perfectly within the environment and the surrounding landscape. This simple concept required five years of work by the owners, the architect, and all those involved in the completion of this project, including the stone supplier.
Commercial Exterior. IMS Masonry, Lindon, UT: Nicholas S. Zeppos College, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN: The 260,000 sf Nicholas S. Zeppos College houses 335 students and features a state-of-the-art dining hall, great room, study lounges, and several other event spaces. It was designed with a red brick blend cladding, along with sandstone and limestone trims. Stone detailing was a major area of design assist. As a masonry subcontractor aiding in stone selection, drafting, and engineering, IMS Masonry was able to devise a strategic plan to enable building schedule and sequencing and to ensure proper fi t of the stone elements that added to the overall project success.
Commercial Interior. KEPCO+, Salt Lake City, UT: 95 State Street, Salt Lake City, UT: The 95 State Street lobby features 220 ft long Lasa marble walls that stretch over 40 ft high and maintain a continual linear veining pattern across all courses. Before a single stone was even fabricated, it had already been assigned a specific location on the wall to ensure vein alignment over both concave and convex curvatures and recessed walls. Through value-engineering, the installer was able to decrease the specified stone thickness by 2 cm and re-engineer the attachment system to accommodate open joints while utilizing back anchors on the thinner stone. The underlayment was then painted black to add visual depth. To maintain the pristine color of the stone in an interior installation, the installer sealed each piece prior to setting. A 50 ft by 40 ft tented clean room was constructed in the structure’s basement, where each individual stone was cleaned, sealed, and suspended upside down.
Commercial Interior. SMG Stone Company, Sun Valley, CA: Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel and Century Plaza Towers, Los Angeles, CA: A rebirth of an iconic hotel in Los Angeles becomes the centerpiece of the city. A city within a city, pedestrian walkways connect the new hotel to outdoor spaces and new living spaces. The project is set over six acres of landscaped gardens, shopping areas, and dining establishments. This historic one square mile project encompasses the renovation of the exiting hotel re-envisioned to the Fairmont Century Plaza and the construction of two new North and South forty-four story towers. The project totals 731 units divided between 400 hotel rooms, sixty-three hotel condo units, 143 North tower units and 125 South tower units. The project has been under construction for five years including the duration of stone installation over a three-year period, completed in 2022.
Kitchen/Bath. Ceramic Harmony, Huntsville, AL: Boyce Resident Kitchen, Huntsville, AL: This project is a private residence for a chef/restaurant owner in Huntsville, Alabama. The couple values the quality and beauty of materials that this earth provides. The goal for this kitchen was to feature the unique characteristics of natural stone. In this case, it was Calacatta Macchia Vecchia imported from Italy. It was also important to the clients to create a high-end timeless design with handcrafted features.
Kitchen/Bath. StoneWorks, Bluffton, SC: Volpe Residence Kitchen, Bluffton, SC: This spectacular Palmetto Bluff home features natural stone throughout its grand interior. Adjacent to the Montage Palmetto Bluff Inn, this home will serve as a high-end luxury rental property for area visitors. Prioritizing a beautiful aesthetic above all else, the client selected Mont Blanc quartzite throughout the home for the kitchen, wet bar, pantry, and one of the bathrooms. The client wanted to create a true “wow-factor“ as visitors entered each room, especially the kitchen. The Mont Blanc quartzite is honed, not polished, and serves as a true statement stone.
Public Landscapes/Parks/Memorials. Western Tile & Marble Contractors, Redmond, WA: Expedia World Headquarters Water Feature, Seattle, WA: Expedia World Headquarters in Seattle, Washington boasts a 480-foot-long stone water feature, architecturally designed to emulate a shallow waterway. The basin includes 3,000 sq ft of CNC Zimbabwe Black granite panels and 13,000 sq ft of Wuchuan granite cobbles. The water first moves over approximately 75,000 pieces of 5”x5” Wuchuan split-faced granite cobbles; every other cobble is set at a tilt with one corner of the cobble raised to disrupt the water flow. The water then flows over 233 CNC panels which were designed to mimic the waves of the campus’s neighboring landscape, the Puget Sound, with each distinctive 3’x5’ CNC panel having to conjoin to its neighboring panel for a puzzle-like assembly. Detailed crate logs were created for all 38 containers, allowing for crucial tracing for sequential pieces as necessary for installation.
Public Landscapes/Parks/Memorials. Bestview International, Glenview, IL: Garden of Serena Williams, Nike World Headquarters, Beaverton, OR: The LEED Platinum-certified Serena Williams Building is the largest structure at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, spanning more than 1 million square feet and nearly three city blocks. Located in front of this massive complex is Serena’s Garden. The focal point of the Garden is the thirteen battered walls with flamed and waterjet Obsidian Black basalt cladding as well as the large “SERENA” stone letterings, which reflect aspects of Serena as an athlete. The shapes of this garden are inspired by the notion of the game of tennis. Place Landscape Architecture said: “Seeing these curved, massive stone structures rising up out of the ground evokes a sense of power and dynamism that a great athlete has.”
Renovation/Restoration. Mario & Son, Liberty Lake, WA: Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Spokane, WA: The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes has graced downtown Spokane, Washington for well over a century. The church features Romanesque Revival architecture in ornate Carrara marble embellished with a variety of other stones. It includes an impressive back altar, pulpit, and bishop’s chair of the high liturgical craftsmanship typical of the era, sculpted and installed by Italian stoneworkers. Poor remodeling left this once magnificent Cathedral a victim of changing styles over the decades. The church’s new leaders wanted to restore the Cathedral to its original grandeur but figured that level of craftsmanship did not exist locally and working with contractors in Italy was beyond their comfort level.
Renovation/Restoration. Camarata Masonry Systems, Houston, TX: Chase Tower Granite Cladding Repairs, Houston, TX: Completed in 1981, the Barre Grey granite-clad skin of the Chase Tower needed attention. Located in downtown Houston, TX, at 1,002 feet tall, the 75-story building is the tallest building in Texas and noted as being the tallest “5-sided” building in the world. The scope of work was to address the stone cladding wind load anchors that were now also being subjected to gravity loads. This work was to be completed with the building occupied and without removing the stone panels. A through-face anchor system was designed and engineered to meet the needs of the project. The 15,610 stone panels on the building skin would require 46,626 anchors. In addition to the new anchors, it was necessary to ensure that all horizontal stone-to-stone and stone-to-window joints were “opened,” eliminating any transfer of deadload weight to the element below. This required the removal and replacement of 42,000 linear feet of sealant and the cutting of approximately 20,000 linear feet of stone to open the joints to a minimum joint width of 1/4 inch.
Renovation/Restoration. Swenson Stone Consultants, Hanover, NH, Miller Druck Specialty Contracting, New York, NY, Tennessee Marble Company, Friendsville, TN: Moynihan Train Hall, New York, NY: The Moynihan Train Hall project is a comprehensive plan to transform the iconic James A. Farley Post Office Building and Pennsylvania Station into a world-class transportation hub. The total renovation, ultimately expanding Penn Station’s floor space by more than 50 percent, includes the construction of the new 255,000 sf Moynihan Train Hall, waiting areas, and ticketing areas for the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak. For exterior stone areas, work involved identifying and determining present-day sources for the granites used on the original Farley post office building, as well as advice on cleaning the existing façade. Indoors, the project incorporates carefully sourced and selected stone materials and artwork that unify the entrances and concourses.
Renovation/Restoration. Galloy & Van Etten, Chicago, IL: Tribune Tower, Chicago, IL: Few buildings in America have been designed with more care to every detail of its surroundings and architectural effect than Chicago’s Tribune Tower. Constructed in 1925 and designed by architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, this majestic structure soars 36-stories above Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. Clad in Indiana Limestone, it’s an architectural masterpiece gracing the city skyline with permanence and beauty. In 2018 planning began to convert this historic landmark from offices into luxury condominium units, all the while respecting its Chicago landmark status.
Renovation/Restoration. Euromarble, Carrara, Italy, Wilkstone, Paterson, NJ: Two Bryant Park, New York, NY: Two Bryant Park sits at a crucial location in the city, directly between Bryant Park and Grace Plaza; however, the existing building cut the two parks off from one another and had a small, poorly positioned lobby. To better connect these spaces, the central column bay and structural slab were removed from the first and second floor, creating a double-height lobby concourse linking the two parks and pulling pedestrians from one space to the other. Disparate textures of rugged stone and highly reflective finishes were chosen to distort and complement the natural landscapes at either side. A black and white palette consisting of Thassos marble, a large aggregate terrazzo, reflective painted aluminum, and blackened stainless-steel balances the refinement of a premium office lobby with the rustic simplicity of Thassos, the Greek island where this project’s marble was quarried.
Residential Interior/Exterior Single Family. Ancient Art of Stone, Cowichan Bay, British Columbia, Canada: Ancestral River of Destiny, Bozeman, MT: Clients commissioned Ancient Art of Stone to design, build, deliver, and install a unique 25 ft freestanding centerpiece fireplace for their new country home in Bozeman, Montana. An artwork which would embody the family history while incorporating the geography of this unique property. The main structure needed to be completed in 9 months, off site as there was no foundation nor space to begin onsite. Being the central support structure of the home, it needed heavy steel saddles accurately set into the main frame of the artwork to support the various ridge beams for the multiple roof lines. The design of Ancestral River of Destiny was inspired by the client’s request for a deeply personal artwork, one intended to become a family heirloom. The building’s architecture and the striking natural surroundings of the vast property informed the design.
Residential Interior/Exterior Single Family. Triton Stone Group, Harahan, LA: Inspiration Home, Homewood, AL: This 4,200 square foot custom build was designed with a European feel to fit into its historic neighborhood, with a cedar roof, copper gutters, and locally cut natural fieldstone to add to its charm. With outdoor views a priority, the kitchen was situated in front of a bank of windows. The kitchen rear wall is comprised of a large unobstructed bank of windows surrounded by a wall of Calacatta Macchia Vecchia honed marble from Italy. The same material is repeated with a waterfall effect on the island. The owners’ suite continues the home’s European influence with marble slab fronts on the vanity and full marble slabs in the shower.
Residential Interior/Exterior Single Family. QuarryHouse, San Francisco, CA: Pacific Heights Palazzo, San Anselmo, CA: A Fiesole Palazzo inspired this Renaissance-style residence in San Francisco. Henry Clay Smith, known as “The Hillside Architect,“ designed the historic mansion for industrialist Milton S. Ray in 1927. After a businessman purchased the 6,848 sq ft estate in 2012, it took eight years and a team of experts to restore and renovate it. The challenges were not just aesthetic but structural for the stonemasons, as anything built needed to be earthquake resistant. A lyrical three-story Botticino Classico marble staircase winds ribbon-like up through the spine of the building. The Bay Area-based stonemasons worked on the specifications with their partner company in Verona, Italy.
(17.02.2023, USA: 02.17.2023)