4 Ideas for Creating High-Impact Small Spaces

Brookings Hospital

Using Natural Stone To Maximize Available Area

Designing a small exterior space? Don’t forget natural stone! While natural stone is often considered for large-scale exterior projects such as plazas, fountains and building cladding, designers can also achieve high-impact results with natural stone in smaller areas. From sculptural seating to artistic landscape elements and water features, designers are using stone to bring the natural element into their small-space designs. Here are four ideas for incorporating natural stone into your small-space design to create big-impact results.

1. Create a Sense of Place: Brookings Hospital

When Brookings Hospital in South Dakota underwent a 62,000-square-foot expansion, a new landscape design was included in the plan to create an inviting entrance. However, the project site presented challenges and limited landscape opportunities due to substantial grade change, narrow street frontage and demanding program requirements.

The design team found a creative, welcoming landscape solution with large boulders of Coldspring Carnelian® granite – placed at various locations to symbolize the glacial movement. South Dakota is known for its Great Plains and landscape uncovered by glacial movement processes that resulted in large deposits of Carnelian granite in Milbank, South Dakota.

The architect visited Coldspring’s Milbank quarry, searching through trees and grass to find Carnelian boulders that intrigued him and fit with the natural look he was seeking. Coldspring representatives then worked with him to figure out how each stone could be used to complement his design. Some pieces needed minor shaping to fit his vision, and Coldspring fulfilled these modifications at the quarry — keeping costs down by not having to move the pieces to a fabrication facility.

In total, 12 as-found boulders were selected, later becoming 18 pieces after shaping at the quarry.

2. Add an Artistic Element: Adjacent PossibleArtemis

At the University of Minnesota, remnant pieces of stone from a Coldspring quarry create an artistic element in the landscape design. The landscape designer was tasked with creating a space outside the university’s new Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building. After visiting the stone fabricator’s facility, the designer hand-selected three uniquely and ruggedly shaped remains from a recent fabrication.

The resulting design, named Adjacent Possible, incorporates three massive blocks of Rainbow® granite and a stainless-steel pipe design that defines the space above the plaza in an open-ended dance. Rainbow granite was also used for the pavers surrounding the sculptural elements.

According to the landscape designer, the work’s title comes from a term in the book Investigations by the theoretical biologist, Stuart Kauffman. Kauffman postulates that life and environment co-construct the biosphere by continually moving into what he calls the adjacent possible — the new that is most possible given current conditions.

3. Establish a Calming Oasis: Middletown Rooftop GardenMiddletown Community Health

The Community Health Center of Middletown, Connecticut, incorporates a calming oasis in an unexpected place. The health center features a beautiful rooftop garden designed to absorb stormwater runoff, cool the building, and promote educational opportunities for students and visitors. Coldspring’s Mountain Green® granite was used to create paving as well as part of a calming water feature that sits in front of a green wall.

The architect on the project desired the stone in the water feature to replicate the look of weathered roughbacks like the exposed granite seen while hiking in the Adirondacks. Working with a Coldspring representative, the architect visited Coldspring’s Au Sable Forks quarry several times to select the right stone for the project.

The water feature incorporates Mountain Green granite in three finishes. The large 12’ natural-formed rectangular slab in a mineral finish has a water jet cored through at a location to form a triangular flow of water that cascades over the natural stone and falls into a shallow pool. The pool also contains two rectangular bee basins located away from splashing water and filled with fine gravel to provide a safe source of water for bees.

4. Provide Creative Seating: Alexander Lofts Art Park

Although a space may be small, its design doesn’t have to be “simple.” The sculptural seating at the Alexander Lofts Art Park in West Palm Beach, Florida, is a perfect example of a complex design in a compact area.

The design team envisioned a smooth flowing form for the sculptural bench to evoke images of Florida’s sand and

waves. The project uses all native stone materials, primarily limestone, and drapes these materials across the site to create a wave-like form, referencing the local geology of the Florida peninsula. The color palette incorporates shades of cream, gold and grey, with slivers of anodized aluminum strategically placed to prevent skateboarders and bikers from scratching the sculpture. The result is a natural stone focal point where visitors can sit, stand, lie and climb.

To achieve the wave-like design, numerous pieces of natural stone were laminated and epoxied, made possible through complex modeling and renderings. Multiple mock-ups were created to study and determine the best way to laminate the stone, and each slab was precisely carved with Coldspring’s 5-axis milling machine to ensure each piece fit together seamlessly.

The sculptural bench also acts as a rain garden, managing stormwater. The project was commissioned by developers of The Alexander, a 210-apartment building at 333 Fern St, as a contribution to the “Art in Public Places” program.

When you want your small space to have a big impact, natural stone is the perfect complement. Contact us today to learn how we can help bring your vision to reality.

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