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Cont inuing Educat ion
Use t he following lear ning object iv es t o
focus y our st udy while r eading t his
mont hs Cont inuing Educat ion ar t icle.
Learning Object ives - Aft er r eading
t his ar t icle, y ou will be able t o:
1 . Ident ify and r ecognize t he
char act er ist ics of light weight
honey comb r einfor ced st one wall
panels and sy st ems.
2 . Define and descr ibe t he
env ir onment ally conscious,
sust ainable component s of
light weight nat ur al st one and
por celain v eneer panel sy st ems.
3 . Assess t he funct ional
cont r ibut ions of r einfor ced st one
walls as t hey cont r ibut e t o gr een
and sust ainable design as
measur ed by nat ional r at ing
sy st ems.
4. Specify r einfor ced st one walls in a
v ar iet y of gr een and conv ent ional
buildings and for mulat e
appr opr iat e select ions r elat ed t o
specific applicat ions.
Less is More with Lightweight Honeycomb Reinforced Stone and Porcelain Panels
Engineered panel systems use real stone or porcelain and produce less weight, less labor, less environmental impact, and less cost
creating more attractive design solutions.
June 201 4
Sponsored by TerraCORE Panels, LLC
Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED-AP
Stone has been used on buildings for centuries. It is a natural material that is long lasting and fairly well
understood by people who work with it. There are v arieties of colors, ty pes, textures, and patterns that
exude a v ariety of design results. In modern buildings though, its primary drawback for use has been its
weight. Howev er, architects looking for way s to incorporate stone into current projects can no longer
dismiss stone as too heav y or too costly . There is now a lighter, much more affordable, sustainable, and
prov en optionlightweight honey comb reinforced stone panels.
Stone and Buildings
Stone offers a good deal of v ersatility and durability in both interior and exterior wall applications.
Sometimes it is used as a structural material and other times as infill between other structural components.
When considering its use on buildings, architects can compare at least three primary options discussed as
follows:
Dimension Stone
According to the U.S. Geological Surv ey (USGS) dimension stone is defined as natural rock material that is
quarried for the purpose of obtaining blocks or slabs for use in buildings or elsewhere. Although a v ariety of
igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks can be classified as dimension stone, the principal rock ty pes
that are quarried for building use include granite, limestone, and trav ertine which are most common for
exterior uses. Additionally , marble, ony x, sandstone, and slate, which are softer stones by nature, are
commonly quarried and used for interior applications.
The selection of specific dimension stone is often based on v isual requirements of color, grain texture,
pattern, and the ability of a stone to be polished to the desired surface finish. From a performance
standpoint, selection is also based on the durability of a particular stone which can be assessed based on the
mineral composition and hardness of the stone. There is plenty of history on past performance of most
quarried stone so it is relativ ely easy to determine strength and suitability for a particular project. In order
to blend into the design of a building project, the quarried blocks or slabs are fabricated by being cut into
standard or custom shapes in specific sizes including width, length, and thickness.
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Photo courtesy of TerraCORE Panels, LLC
Lightweight honey comb reinforced stone panels make it possible to achiev e the appeal of stone wall panels without the drawbacks of heav ier solid dimension
stone.
The most common challenge associated with dimension stone is addressing its weight. This is obv ious in the mining and rough cutting of the stone, but it
becomes ev en more significant after leav ing the quarry . Transporting large, heav y , multiple pieces of stone means that it is more costly to mov e from the
quarry to the fabrication site, and then to the job site, resulting in a significant amount of embedded energy in the final products. This weight ripples
through the rest of the building, particularly if it is used for exterior or interior wall panels, since the structure supporting the stone needs to be beefed up to
handle the added dead load of the dimension stone. Installation of heav y stone panels requires appropriate equipment and skilled labor to assure a proper
and durable end result. All of this impacts the cost and time required to use dimension stone on buildings. It also offsets some of the env ironmentally
appealing aspects of using a natural material by increasing the impact of its use ov er its life cy cle.
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Lightweight Stone Panels
How can the attractiv e and desirable benefits of stone be retained while ov ercoming the limitations and challenges of dimension stone? The answer lies in
innov ations made by manufacturers to produce lightweight stone panels.
The process of fabricating lightweight panels begins with the same quarried stone blocks and slabs with the same benefits and choices of dimension stone.
Howev er, once deliv ered to the manufacturer, the process changes. It is based on using a thin lay er of stone that is backed with a lightweight honey comb
lay er to reinforce the stone and keep it strong enough to use on a building. The honey comb is made of fiberglass and/or recy cled aluminum with superior
performance and strength. In addition to the inherent strength of the honey comb reinforcing, it also allows for some flexibility and absorption of building
stresses that might otherwise cause damage to dimension stone. Because of this composite ty pe of fabrication, the amount of stone is reduced, meaning that
the weight is dramatically reduced, such that a single stone block can be used for two or three times the amount of wall panels compared to full-depth
dimension stone panels.
Image courtesy of TerraCORE Panels, LLC
Honey comb reinforcing can be used behind a full range of stone ty pes to create a lightweight, durable sy stem.
Many natural stone choices can be used for lightweight panels with multiple finish options av ailable, including polished, honed, flamed, bush hammered,
sandblasted, antiqued, and acid washed. The specific ty pe of stone selected often affects the manufacturing process. Harder stones like granite can be sliced
to a rather thin slab of 7 mm (approximately 3/8 inch) thickness and are finished to their desired appearance. They are then adhered directly to the
honey comb reinforcing with epoxy . Once cured, the panels are cut to their exact finished size and the edges are finished and treated. Softer stones like
marble and limestone start with an unfinished slab of conv entional thickness. The honey comb reinforcing is then applied to not one, but both sides of the
slab. Now fully reinforced, the stone is split down the middle so two separate panels are created, each with a stone face that is half the thickness that it
started with. The panels are then cut to their finished size, and the faces and edges are finished as desired or specified.
When it comes to producing multiple panels, some manufacturers will simply take full-sized dimensioned slabs, add honey combs, and then cut the panels
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out of the slabs which can generate significant waste or unused product depending on the panel sizes needed. In order to maximize the y ield of the stone,
minimize waste, and reduce env ironmental impacts, other manufacturers look more carefully at the panel sizes compared to the slab sizes. By planning out
the cutting patterns ahead of time, the dimensional slabs and the honey combs are cut first to a rough shape that may be an inch or two larger all around.
Then they are precisely cut to final sizes as called for by the architectural design with the edges and faces finished according to specifications. In this way ,
the y ield from each slab can be maximized and the use of the honey comb reinforcing can be kept v ery efficient. Each panel is numbered to equate to its
location on a building elev ation or wall, particularly since different sizes may be needed to accommodate a particular design.
The final step in the manufacturing process is to prepare the panels for installation. Most manufacturers of panels also manufacture their own sy stem for
installing them. Ty pically this inv olv es an aluminum interlocking clip or track sy stem that allows the panels to hang securely on the building wall sy stem.
Hence, the appropriate clips or channel pieces are precisely secured onto the back of the panels in the factory . The complementary rail pieces that are
intended to be field installed are also fabricated and shipped along with the panels. Once complete, the panels and installation sy stem are crated and
packaged to be shipped to the building location. They are organized in crates according to the requirements for installation on each building elev ation with
each crate numbered just as the panels are according to their final design location.
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Image courtesy of TerraCORE Panels, LLC
A clip sy stem can be used to install the panels to a wall assembly with clips attached during fabrication and channels attached in the field.
The results of this innov ativ e process include a building that has the v isual and performance characteristics of stone with up to 80 percent less weight
compared to dimensional stone. This means that the panels can be readily hung on 1 6-gauge metal stud walls thus keeping structural costs low by keeping
the building more lightweight. The manufacturing process of creating permanently bonded panel assemblies means there is little worry of warping,
expanding or contracting like many heav ier stones. They can also be fabricated in a full range of custom or standard sizes up to 4 feet by 8 feet (common
stone slab size) or sometimes ev en larger. When it comes to installation, the lightweight panels hav e been found to be 5 to 1 0 times faster to install than solid
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heav y dimensional stone, thus sav ing construction time and reducing labor costs. Most of these sav ings come from the engineered clip or channel sy stem
that is installed in the factory and allows for a v ery efficient installation process. Ov erall, the final lightweight reinforced panel products are highly tested
and fully warranted by manufacturers as a result. Further, in the ev ent that other stone products are needed to complement the design of a building it is
possible to specify a full line of div erse dimensional stone products often from the same manufacturer to match the lightweight panels.
Porcelain Panels (Large format)
A v ariation on incorporating lightweight reinforced panels into a building design is to use panels with large-format manufactured porcelain instead of cut
stone. Porcelain is a well-known building product often used for wall or floor tile. It is similar to clay -based ceramic tile, but in fact it is made with different
materials that make it denser, more durable, and much less water absorptiv e. It is manufactured from natural raw materials that include kaolin, silica
sand, and feldspars that create these distinctiv e performance qualities. These materials are atomized, mixed in a press, and fired in a kiln at 2,1 00 degrees F
or higher to create the finished product. Along the way it can be reinforced with fiberglass mesh and its appearance can be v aried from a continuous,
uniform look to a v ariegated look that can mimic the swirls and v eins of marble or other stone. Either way , since the material is sometimes made using a
through body process that is the same all the way through, the color is also all the way through. That means that a chip or nick may be hard to notice
unlike ceramic tile that is glazed with color only on the surface. By contrast, for patterned appearances, a roto grav ure printing process is used that creates
an image on the surface of the porcelain only .
When large-format porcelain is used in wall sy stems, the size of the indiv idual units is larger than tiles so they are simply referred to as panels. In the
interest of controlling weight and cost, their thickness is reduced as well, down to as little as 1 /8 to of an inch. Using the same principles as reinforced
stone panels, the porcelain panels are backed with aluminum honey comb adhered to the back side of the porcelain. The fabricated panels can then be hung
to the supporting wall using clips or channels in the same way the reinforced stone panels are. In some cases, the honey comb backed porcelain can be
directly applied to the wall surface using appropriate adhesiv es.
Photo courtesy of TerraCORE Panels, LLC
Porcelain wall panels can be used in larger sizes and offer a different v ariety of aesthetic appearances than stone.
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One of the differences between stone panels and porcelain panels is the larger potential size of porcelain panels which can be manufactured in widths up to
39 inches and lengths that can go up to 1 1 8 inches or nearly 1 0 feet. These larger sizes mean fewer joints, expedited installation, and dramatic design
opportunities. From a phy sical performance standpoint, the porcelain panels exhibit bending strength and water resistance that is better than most stone
and ceramic solutions. Its thin size and stable make up also giv e it v ery positiv e thermal expansion coefficients when compared to other building materials.
Ov er the long haul, building owners and maintenance crews will appreciate its resistance to abrasion, stains, chemicals, graffiti, and color changes from
sunlight. In all, it is a durable and attractiv e solution that is on the order of 50% thinner and lighter than standard porcelain products. That means it
requires less raw material, less processing and transportation cost, and less impact at the end of its useful life.
Design Applications
Whether faced with stone or porcelain, lightweight reinforced panels are v ery suitable for a full range of building design applications. In terms of ov erall
performance, it should be recognized that the panels are designed to be somewhat flexible, so they can withstand building mov ement, seismic racking, and
shear forces without damaging the ov erall panel, the faces, or the building. Due to the use of non-combustible materials, most reinforced stone and porcelain
panel products meet or exceed all fire-testing criteria and fire-related code requirements. Honey comb reinforced panels are similarly tested to resist large
missile impacts and hurricane loading and hav e been found to hav e up to 60 times the impact strength of 3-cm solid dimensional stone. They are
imperv ious to water penetration, making them suitable for both interior and exterior installations ev en in wet locations. For example, they hav e become
v ery popular in hotel bathrooms that seek their durability and water resistance.
Stone and porcelain hav e been popular choices in high-traffic commercial and institutional buildings where durability has been needed along with great
aesthetics. Therefore, any such location can benefit by selecting lightweight honey comb reinforced panels instead of dimension stone or full thickness
porcelain. Hotels, corporate headquarters, banks, retail settings, and car dealerships fit this profile often with the desire to create ey e-catching facades that
also exude refinement and quality . Public or common areas of condominiums and other multifamily residential buildings also seek the durability of the
panels but often welcome the cost-sav ing benefits. Institutional buildings such as gov ernmental complexes, health care facilities, univ ersities, and churches
ty pically expect to own and operate their buildings for a long time so they are particularly sensitiv e to the low maintenance, long-lasting qualities of these
products. An ov erall life cy cle assessment of lightweight panels will commonly show just how fav orable they can be compared to heav ier stone or masonry
options.
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Lightweight reinforced stone panel sy stems are appropriate and attractiv e for use on a wide range of building ty pes.
There are also some other specific design applications where honey comb reinforced panels can emerge as the preferred choice. In particular, renov ation and
rehabilitation projects are ideally suited for their use since it is likely that costly structural alterations can be av oided. And the custom sizing capabilities of
the panels means that they can be readily fit into almost any existing building of any of the ty pes discussed abov e. Interior applications make a lot of sense
for these reinforced panels too. It is easy to see why they would be popular in high-v isibility , high-use interior spaces such as lobbies and gathering places,
but they can also be used in a wide v ariety of other specialty interior applications too such as elev ator cabs, restrooms, corridors, etc. In elev ator cabs in
particular, lightweight reinforced stone panels can be used for new or retrofit construction to sav e thousands of dollars in mechanical equipment costs,
recalibration, and time compared to dimensional stone. Using these panels that are 80% less weight, longer lasting, impact resistant, and can be
prefabricated for immediate installation on any wall, floor or ceiling without the use of mortar, often emerges as the right choice.
Rounding out any design application, it should also be noted that complementary detail pieces of stone or porcelain can be used. These include things like
smaller in-fill panels on exterior or interior walls. It can also include fabricated detail elements such as soffits, canopies, fascia, cantilev ers, cornices,
columns, and accent bands. Depending on the design, these details might be made out of the same reinforced panel sy stem or out of separate pieces of stone.
Consultation with a manufacturer during the design stages can help identify the best combination of products and choices to create the desired outcomes.
Green Building Contributions
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has dev eloped the LEED rating sy stem for green buildings which has been recognized as the leading green
building standard in this country . The LEED 2009 sy stem is in place until the y ear 201 5 which ov erlaps with LEED v ersion 4 introduced late in 201 3.
Since buildings are currently being designed under both sy stems, credits av ailable for both are summarized below related to the use of lightweight
honey comb reinforced stone and porcelain panels.
Sustainable Sites
Under LEED 2009, credit SS 7 .2 is av ailable for reducing the heat island effect. This is primarily for roofing sy stems and makes 1 point av ailable. Howev er,
many light-colored stone wall panels may meet the criteria to reflect heat and thus reduce the heat island effect. Under an innov ation credit, it may be
possible to show that the heat reflectiv e qualities are av ailable in the specified wall panels and therefore help reduce env ironmental heat build-up.
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Using light colored stone panels can help reduce heat island effects when green building design is being pursued.
Optimize Energy Performance
Both LEED 2009 and LEED v . 4 place a strong emphasis on reducing the use of fossil fuels and increasing the use of non-polluting renewable energy .
Reflectiv e stone and porcelain products can contribute to improv ed thermal performance by reflecting away unwanted heat from the building, particularly
in warm climates. In order to receiv e points in this credit category the building must demonstrate a percentage increase in energy sav ings in accordance
with ASHRAE standards. The number of points av ailable depends on the degree of energy sav ings.
Materials and Resources
This area has changed dramatically between the different v ersions of the LEED rating sy stem. LEED 2009 includes four areas where lightweight
reinforced wall panels can contribute to an ov erall green building:
Credit 1 .1 : Building Reuse: Maintain 55%, 7 5% or 95% of Existing Walls, Floors and Roof (1 -3 points). If reinforced wall panels already exist in
a building being renov ated, they may be able to be salv aged and re-used since their life expectancy is v ery long.
Credit 2: Construction Waste Management (1 -2 points). The nature of custom fabricated wall panels limits scrap material and reduces
construction site waste accordingly .
Credit 3: Materials Reuse: 5% or 1 0% (1 or 2 points). When stone or porcelain faced reinforced panels are reclaimed from other installations,
they can be re-used in another building and contribute directly to this credit.
Credit 4: Recy cled Content: 1 0% and 20% (1 2 points). The stone and porcelain portion of the panels are most commonly new materials.
Howev er, the aluminum honey comb backer can be made from 1 00% recy cled aluminum and can contribute directly to this credit.
Credit 5: Regional Materials (1 2 points). Many reinforced lightweight wall panels are manufactured in the USA meaning a regional
material contribution is possible depending on proximity to the building.
The Materials and Resources category under LEED v . 4 takes a rather different approach to defining the green nature of building products. There are still
credits for Building Re-use and Construction Waste Management, but the rest of the approach focuses on the full life cy cle of those products. The key
documentation needed to demonstrate performance under this approach is referred to as an Env ironmental Product Declaration (EPD). Indiv idual
manufacturers or a trade association can prepare specific or generic EPDs for products. The ov erall intent is to address an emphasis on transparency in the
sourcing, ingredient, and manufacturing processes as called for in LEED v . 4. As we hav e seen, lightweight reinforced panels can be shown to produce more
fav orable env ironmental impacts as assessed throughout the products life cy cle, including raw material extraction, transportation, manufacturing
packaging, use, and disposal at the end of a buildings useful life.
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Photos courtesy of TerraCORE Panels, LLC
Lightweight stone panels can be shown to hav e fav orable life cy cle results as demonstrated in Env ironmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and preferable
indoor env ironmental performance as shown in Health Product Declarations (HPDs).
One of the numerous methods to track the env ironmental benefits of a product is a program called GreenWizard which is a new software sy stem that allows
users to manage the selection of green materials and the workflow for green rating sy stems. This includes tracking materials and their application to
LEED credits. Materials in the searchable database are collected from manufacturers who prov ide product data, supplier information, and documentation
that enables product transparency when comparing materials for green attributes. Indiv iduals who want to search the database for information on a
product can do so by subscribing to a free registration. GreenWizard is also a repository for EDPs as well as Health Product Declarations (HPDs). The Health
Product Declaration Collaborativ e created and supports the HPDs as an impartial tool for the accurate reporting of product contents and each ingredients
relationship to the bigger picture of human and ecological health. The HPD objectiv ely defines the critical information needed to support accurate supply
chain disclosure by manufacturers and suppliers, and informed decisions by building designers, specifiers, owners, and users.
Specifying Lightweight Honeycomb Reinforced Stone Wall Panels
When specify ing lightweight reinforced wall panels, there are choices and specification details to pay attention to. Coordination with manufacturers during
the design phases of a project will help gain insight into details, cost driv ers, installation requirements, and fabrication lead times. Some of the relev ant
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items to address in a standard 3-part specification format are highlighted as follows.
Part 1 - General
Quality assurance is often addressed by citing specific national testing and standards for products. In the case of lightweight reinforced wall panels, there
are three that are particularly relev ant:
ASTM C880 - Standard Test Method for Flexural Strength of Dimension Stone. This will be relev ant to any stone products selected or
specified.
ASTM B221 - Standard Specification for Aluminum-Alloy Extruded Bars, Rods, Wires, Shapes and Tubes. This test will be relev ant to the
aluminum honey comb backing when used on a reinforced panel.
ASTM D897 - Standard Test Method for Tensile Properties of Adhesiv e Bonds which will apply to epoxy or other adhesiv es used in the
fabrication of the panels.
Bey ond that, exterior panels should be tested for all of the usual things expected in an exterior cladding sy stem such as air leakage, structural performance,
water penetration, and wind resistance. Interior panels should be tested for surface burning characteristics and rated accordingly .
Other general specification information includes the appropriate request for submittals and shop drawings that confirm that the correct wall panels are
being ordered and fabricated. It is also reasonable to request experienced installers be used with a minimum of 3 y ears relev ant experience and approv al by
the panel manufacturer. Further a full warranty should be called for and submitted that demonstrates cov erage for at least a 1 0-y ear cov erage against
delamination and separation of panel components.
Part 2 - Products
Identify ing the specific lightweight reinforced wall panel products that are desired requires cov ering sev eral items. If multiple product ty pes are selected for
a building, then obv iously they each need to be specified and their locations identified on the drawings.
Panel ty pe, thickness, and size: The particular ty pe of panel needs to be selected such as natural stone or porcelain bonded to a particular ty pe
of reinforcing or core. The thicknesses of the exposed surface needs to be called out as does the thickness of the honey comb core, other
intermediate backing sheets, and the ov erall thickness of the fabricated panel. Sizes of the panels are generally shown on the drawings, but
parameters for minimum and maximum sizes can be addressed in the specifications.
Stone ty pe and finish: Fundamental to the panel appearance is the choice of stone or porcelain being used. The choice should be influenced
based on interior or exterior usage and the ov erall design properties being sought. The specific finish of the stone should also be called out from
av ailable options of polished, honed, flamed, antiqued, sandblasted, acid washed, or bush-hammered.
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Photo courtesy of TerraCORE Panels, LLC
The particular ty pe, thickness, and finish of stone (shown on left) or porcelain (on right) needs to be specified for indiv idual design projects as selected from a
range of choices.
Aluminum honey comb: The ty pe of aluminum alloy and information related to the aluminum portions of the panel should be identified. The
size of the cell and the thickness of the cell walls, along with the top and bottom details can also be specified based on manufacturing options.
Note that the inherent strength of the honey comb is based on the thickness and configuration of the aluminum.
Adhesiv es Epoxy is the common adhesiv e to bond the facing panel to the honey comb core. All adhesiv es must meet code and testing
requirements.
Attachments: Concealed fastening is most often used and will thus dictate the specific attachment methods consistent with the
manufacturers sy stem. As such, it should be specified to be prov ided by the same company that prov ides the panels as a complete, integrated
sy stem.
Accessories: Fasteners and joint sealers may be recommended by the manufacturer but need to be addressed to be sure they are
appropriately suited to the particular building application.
Fabrication: Details of fabrication such as sy stem installation, joint details, and sealer application (or not) should all be called out as
appropriate.
Since some aspects of products v ary between manufacturers, using the specification items abov e will aid in product-to-product comparisons during design
and assure appropriate installations during construction.
Part 3 - Execution
Installing pre-fabricated wall panels is fairly straightforward but requires appropriate attention to detail to assure the desired outcome is achiev ed. It is
important to note that stone is a natural material with part of its beauty and appeal coming from v ariations and irregularities in the surface and
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appearance. Ev ery one inv olv ed should expect this v ariation within the normal range of tolerances for any giv en stone ty pe.
Examination and Preparation: The rest of the exterior wall assembly needs to be in place with the requisite air and water barrier already
installed. This should all be inspected for completeness and conformance with the building design and adequacy for correct attachments before
the wall panels are installed.
Installation and Field Quality Control: Since it is the installation of the fastening sy stem that can determine if the panels end up
appropriately aligned, lev el, and plumb, special attention should be paid to aligning clips or channels properly . Installers should definitely
follow manufacturers instructions and approv ed shop drawings and comply with allowable tolerances.
Image courtesy of TerraCORE Panels, LLC
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Photo courtesy of TerraCORE Panels, LLC
Installation sy stems for panels may v ary and should be coordinated with manufacturers to be sure that field quality control is maintained.
Repairs: As a natural material, it is not uncommon for chips or gouges to occur either in shipping or installation. Small chips, scratches, etc.
can usually be smoothed out with a diamond file, buffer, or sandpaper. For large areas, a two-part non-y ellowing stone epoxy can be mixed
with a bit of tint to match and a little stone dust from a scrap panel. Apply into the damaged area and clean and smooth with a putty knife. If
the stone has natural markings, a permanent marker can add in a little accenting to prev ent the repair from standing out. This procedure
normally makes repairs v irtually inv isible.
Joint sealer: Where joint sealer is used or required, it should be specified in the appropriate specification section consistent with good sealing
practices, code compliance, and manufacturers recommendations.
Cleaning and Protection: The nature of most panel finishes is to be fairly smooth and easy to clean. In most cases, dust and dirt from
construction can be easily wiped clean with a soft cloth or rinsed with water.
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Case Study #1
530 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
Photos by Colin Miller, courtesy of Perkins Eastman
Interior Lightweight Reinforced Stone Panels Used for a Major Building Upgrade
Jamestown Properties and Rockwood Capital purchased this prominent midcentury building located in an upscale Manhattan location. The block-long, 24-
story building was found to be unattractiv e when it was purchased in 201 2 and the entry in particular was showing signs of wear. Ov er the buildings
history , at least 1 0 different renov ations had taken place but most of the stone and finishes in the original lobby had cracked and aged with use and abuse.
Further, the lobby lighting was poor and the building had v ery little street presence.
S9 Architecture, a Perkins Eastman Affiliate Company , was retained to prov ide a new high-quality interior facelift that included the renov ation of the
main lobby . The scope of the project also included a new street entry faade with a small, specialty coffee shop located outside of the secure access to the
elev ator. This retail amenity was prov ided for the tenants but it also created a sense of place that engaged the public along the v ery busy Fifth Av enue.
The timing of the renov ation became one of the driv ing factors for the choice of materials for the renov ation. In order to maximize the capital inv estment,
the client requested that the building be open as quickly as possible and that the renov ation should be phased.
According to Principal-in-Charge John Clifford, Reinforced stone panels were a logical choice for this project since they could be directly attached to the
existing wall structure without the significant demolition and reconstruction of a new structural wall that traditional dimensional stone would require.
This permitted an accelerated construction schedule which was important to the client to minimize disruption to building tenants in the occupied building
during the renov ation. The reduction of weight and the precision manufacturing and engineering process prov ided by the reinforced stone panels prov ided
many cost adv antages particularly because the existing wall structure could be retained.
To emphasize the quality of this newly renov ated office building, mocha cream colored limestone with a honed finish was selected for the interior lobby and
elev ator cores which brightened up the interior and prov ided some needed durability . On the exterior, pewter colored limestone with a honed finish was
selected to change the street appearance and make the ov erall faade more appealing. Both of these stones were fabricated as lightweight reinforced panels
with an aluminum honey comb backing. Using natural stone on the face of the panels prov ided a maintenance-free, elegant, and durable solution for both
the interior and exterior of the building. Reinforced stone panels were also used to clad the built-in front desk in a furniture ty pe of application. All of the
panels were carefully detailed to emphasize the horizontal courses thus replicating rev eals in dimensional stone. The architects worked with the
manufacturer to dev elop a v ariety of details to achiev e the desired design aesthetic with precision and dimensional accuracy .
The renov ation was completed in less than nine months and achiev ed the client goals for the creation of an elegant new design for 5th Av enue.
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Case Study #2
Veterans Memorial, McAllen, TX To Honor Those Who Served
Memorial Features 105-Feet-Tall, Five-Sided Spire Clad in Lightweight Stone Reinforced Granite
Panels over a Steel Structure
The Veterans War Memorial in McAllen, Texas, has been built to last for centuries by the Veterans War Memorial Foundation of Texas. Colonel Frank
Plummer, who serv es as president of the foundation, also play ed the role of memorial designer. Hav ing serv ed in the U.S. Army for 32 y ears, Col. Plummer
is proud to hav e conceiv ed of this durable monument to all those who serv ed.
Ev ery thing in the Veterans War Memorial tells a story . The centerpiece of the monument is a fiv e-sided spire with each side representing one of the fiv e
branches of U.S. armed serv ices. The history of each branch is written on its designated side including a list of the many battles and wars fought by U.S.
v eterans from 1 7 7 5 to today . Located around the spire throughout the fiv e-acre memorial park are military themed statues and walls that prov ide lists of
those specially honored for their serv ice to the country .
In order to achiev e the design and functional needs of the 1 05-foot-tall spire, 300 lightweight reinforced granite panels were used. These panels included an
aluminum honey comb backing and were mounted onto a galv anized steel substructure. This approach meant that durable, but affordable, granite panels
could be etched to prov ide a lasting backdrop to the histories, images, and names of serv ice members. It also means that the maintenance budget is almost
zero since the watertight panels are expected to perform consistently well for decades to come.
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The entire monument is a testimony to the dedication and serv ice by members of the military . According to Colonel Plummer to our knowledge this is the
only monument built like this in the United States, dedicated to ov er 1 .4 million men and women who serv ed in our wars. The purpose of the monument is
to honor all of the men and women who fought in wars to make this country . The memorial and their stories are prov ided to educate the community on
their contributions to wars thus serv ing as an outdoor classroom v isited by children and adults alike.

Case Study #3
899 West Evelyn Street, Mountainview, CA
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Designing with Stone for Seismic Loading
The historic city of Mountain View, located in the San Francisco Bay area, is one of many places in the earthquake zone that surrounds Silicon Valley . For
safety , historic, and sustainability reasons, there are strict rev iew guidelines for all new construction. Commercial buildings are required to submit either a
LEED or Green Point checklist to document the env ironmental features of the plan. The planning department requires building concept sketches and
rev iews building materials to assure that they will fit within a neighborhood context. Each preliminary submittal to this community requires that the
designers submit a narrativ e that discusses materials, colors, and sustainable aspects and construction methods.
The 7 0,232-square-foot Class A office building at 899 W. Ev ely n Street was designed and approv ed as part of a transit hub and completed in 201 4. The
architectural firm Brick LLC designed the building to LEED Platinum standards, the highest lev el for LEED certification. Some of the elements in this
building include a green roof, water-efficient landscaping, high-performance glazing, bike storage, access to the Cal-Tran train, and low VOC materials.
They also recognized that for many in the real estate market, a Class A building must represent permanence which most often means that the buildings
contain durable materials as a sy mbol of its character.
The materials selected for this project reflect the community and market v alues for permanence and tradition while being engineered to meet the highest
technological standards for performance. Lightweight reinforced stone panels were chosen since they allowed a greater freedom of expression for the
designers who wanted natural stone finishes but needed to address earthquake zone requirements for high-rise buildings. The reinforced stone panels are
engineered to meet seismic codes and prov ide a flexibility that is not possible with solid stone panels. The design team knew from the beginning that they
were selecting this sy stem not only for performance and aesthetic reasons, but also because the cost was approximately fiv e times less by weight for
transportation.
The final building design demonstrates how earthquake code requirements for stability and durability can be met while meeting community standards for
quality , contemporary facade design using a sustainable and permanent material like stone. In the end, the project exceeded all community standards and
prov ides an example of how lightweight reinforced stone panels contribute to great design.
Conclusion
Lightweight reinforced stone and porcelain panels prov ide an attractiv e design solution to creating elegant, durable, cost-effectiv e, and sustainable wall
sy stems in a v ariety of building applications. As an interior design solution, the lightweight materials mean easier and less costly installations while
employ ing real, natural materials instead of a look alike. New high-strength porcelain allows an ev en greater range of aesthetics and can be installed in
larger panels for additional character statements. When used as an exterior material, the benefits of using lightweight reinforced stone and porcelain panels
include strength, flexibility , and demonstrated compliance with seismic, wind, and other loading codes for most locations. Prov iding the aesthetics of
traditional stone, architects can now specify manufactured products that maximize current technology to create dramatic and long-lasting buildings.
Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, practices architecture, consults on green and sustainable design, writes on technical topics, and presents
nationwide on all of the above. www.linkedin.com/in/pjaarch

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Lev antina, offer the highest quality in stone and
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