In recent years, campuses across the country have experienced a rebirth in design. Designers are experimenting with traditional materials such as natural stone and incorporating them in modern applications.
Today’s campus designs are inviting and user-friendly, often playing a key role in student recruitment and alumni development. Buildings and hardscapes must present a timeless, iconic elegance designed with durability and longevity in mind.
Beautiful plazas and natural settings bring students outside, while thoughtfully designed hardscapes often connect multiple buildings and provide opportunities for students to connect and share ideas. At the same time, walking surfaces must be able to handle the elements and wear and tear of high-traffic areas.
A durable, low-maintenance and timelessly elegant building material like granite can meet a university’s needs in a variety of applications, whether for hardscapes, building cladding or even artistic elements. And as universities initiate building projects on their campuses, granite provides an additional benefit: the ability to connect the existing with the new. With granite, designers can create the appearance of a historic or iconic structure in new and modern applications.
Here, we share some of our favorite examples of universities that have incorporated granite on campus for iconic, durable, low-maintenance and creative solutions.
U of Cincinnati: Hardscape
The University of Cincinnati’s commitment to improvements has transformed the campus into a modern, urban institution with park-like elements. In the last 20 years, 50 percent of the campus has been modified, with granite as a principal ingredient in the improvement projects. Carnelian®, a red- and gray-hued granite, has been used across campus for seats, steps and seatwalls.
As the university’s upgrade plan made its way to historic Nippert stadium, extensive renovations to the hardscape were required. The plaza contained numerous Carnelian granite seatwalls from Coldspring measuring 6 feet long by 22 inches high by 30 inches deep. The existing granite steps and cubic benches at Bearcat Plaza were removed, marked and cataloged for re-use position, and then stored off site. New Carnelian granite in Diamond® 10 finish, to match the original seatwalls, was cut as needed. The original seatwalls were replaced in partial. Seatwalls that were not used were put in storage for future campus projects.
The re-use of granite at Nippert Stadium has created a network of connection points between buildings and spaces. Most important, as part of the university’s master plan, the upgrades at Nippert Stadium will ensure the campus will remain attractive for many years to come.
West Point: Cadet Barracks
To accommodate rising enrollment of cadets, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point initiated construction of the new General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. barracks, named for the former Tuskegee Airman who became the U.S. Air Force’s first African American general officer.
When constructing the new barracks, it was important to West Point to match the existing feel and color of the 200-year-old campus’ gothic revival architecture as well as use a product that will last another 200 years, making granite a natural choice. Nearly 200,000 square feet of beautiful, custom-cut and hand-crafted Charcoal Black® and Mesabi Black® granite pieces were used for the exterior, site wall, stair treads, coping, sills and paving at the new cadet barracks.
With a tight deadline, it was essential that the granite supplier and fabricator had complete control over shipping the 200,000 4-inch-thick, split face pieces of granite from central Minnesota to upstate New York. It’s not typical for pieces this size to be shipped in their finished state to the job site, but the puzzle-like process for installation made it possible. Each piece was hand-crafted and numbered to fit into a specific spot, and once on site was easily assembled. This cut down on time and on-site work significantly. By completion, 310 trucks made the trip across country, on time and at times ahead of schedule.
University of MN: Artistic Expression
In a creative twist on repurposing, remnant pieces of stone from a quarry became sculptural elements in a landscape design at the University of Minnesota. The landscape designer was tasked with creating a space outside a new building at the university. After visiting Coldspring’s quarry, the designer hand selected uniquely shaped remnants. 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 selected for pavers surrounding the sculptural elements.