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    Architectural Stonework

    by Malcolm Holzman, FAIA

    The application of stone can result in architecture unlike that created from any other material. And it can be of greater interest today than it has been in the recent past. If architects redirect their attention to this material, they may discover, as I have, that it is sensuous to the touch, striking to the eye, and pleasing to the soul.

    Stone production varies widely, and its application requires that an architect understand the equipment used to manufacture the final building units and the methods for installing them.

    The architect should take into account that finished stone surfaces no longer bear the marks of the stonecutters' virtuosity. Instead, the introduction of technologically advanced machinery has resulted in the almost total demise of hand-cut stone blocks, which in turn has eliminated some types of finishes and detailing.

    Long gone are the tooled finishes from hand-held chisels that could render differences in texture across the face of a stone block, or from one stone to the next. Now, machine splitting provides rustication, and other equipment makes tooled, honed, rockface, and polished finishes. The results may be unrefined in some instances, but it is possible to achieve subtleties formerly reached exclusively through hand labor.

    How Cutting Affects Appearance

    Machinery for splitting stone can now accommodate pieces measuring several feet on a side and weighing many tons. Stone this size can be sheared with a single blow from a pneumatic multiblade splitter.

    The 30 by 64-inch (76- by 162-centimeter), split face, red granite blocks enclosing the music room and main entry to the Middlebury College Center for the Arts in Vermont were produced by taking advantage of this type of device. Without such equipment, the fabricator would have had to revert to hand work for the same result at many times the cost.   >>>

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    Cutting stone at Gillis Quarries, Ltd.
    Photo: Henry Kalen

    ArchWeek Image

    Granite blocks at the main entry to Middlebury College Center for the Arts.
    Photo: Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates

     

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