Building Materials

PHOTO CREDIT: Weinberg-Clark Photography

Located in the heart of California’s well-known Silicon Valley, Intuit Inc. found itself in a unique design situation. The company occupies a campus in Mountain View, Calif., in a series of buildings that originally were intended for use by multiple tenants. Over time, Intuit leased all of the campus’ buildings as its business expanded. More than a dozen disparate buildings made it challenging for employees from different divisions to interact, and the global provider of business and financial management solutions wanted to unify its buildings and people. With land for new construction hard to come by in this densely populated area, designing a solution to unite the existing buildings was the best option. Landscape architecture with granite as a key design element became the means to achieve the intended outcome.

The landscape design division of international design and planning firm AECOM provided design services for the 30-acre campus. Design began in 2011, and construction on Phase 1 of the multi-phase project commenced the following year. Based on the client’s requirements, goals for the project were to: provide a unified identity for the campus; connect Intuit’s people and places; adhere to efficient sustainability practices; and create functional outdoor workspaces. To help accomplish these goals, Mesabi Black® granite from Coldspring was used to construct water features, a rain garden, a pool bottom base and sculptural benches for seating. In all, the project required more than 6,500 square feet of granite. AECOM selected granite for the outdoor environment and heavy traffic, and the Mesabi Black in particular delivered a striking backdrop for the water features. Intuit asked that sustainability be an essential consideration in material selection. Mesabi Black is produced in close proximity to the Coldspring manufacturing facility, which minimized transportation and helped the team adhere to sustainable practices.

The granite-formed water features, including a 100-foot water wall, contribute to the project’s sustainability goals while creating a spectacular arrival experience at the company’s global corporate headquarters. Narrow streams of water cascade from one feature to the next through the campus’ central area.

With their narrow design, the new water features minimize evaporation. Together with the new storm-water management system, rain garden and native plant choices, the project has reduced consumption of up to 12 Olympic-sized pools of potable water per year. The landscape was planned with sustainable elements throughout its design.

In addition to creating a more sustainable landscape, the new design enables creative interaction among employees. White noise from the water provides a calming atmosphere where people can gather. Granite benches not only provide space for rest and meeting, but also for outdoor work as well. In essence, the interior work environment has extended to the landscape, made possible with Wi-Fi access across the campus.


To construct these benches and other elements of the project, Coldspring’s technological capabilities proved essential. AECOM produced 3D models in its Rhino software, which Coldspring was able to accept and reproduce via its five-axis CNC (computer-numeric control) machines. The end product is a sculptural effect and the production of extremely complex shapes that could not be produced by hand in the same timeframe or budget. The sinuous curves of the benches have become beautiful pieces of art in the outdoor environment. “The CNC technology allows us to create complex designs out of stone that were traditionally impossible to achieve,” said James Haig Streeter, Principal, AECOM. “It gives us greater creative opportunities, and as a direct result we have been able to explore unique forms and sculptural capabilities.”

Granite installation for Phase 1 was completed in October of 2013. The new outdoor spaces have helped unify the campus, creating a sustainable outdoor work environment that inspires innovation and collaboration.

2013 Pinnacle Award Winner: Commercial Exterior

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