Sourcing Natural Stone for Your Monument Project

Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial

For thousands of years, man has used natural stone to construct the world’s most beautiful and resilient monuments. Today, natural stone remains the material of choice for monuments and memorials across the globe. With both domestic and international stone sources readily available, it can be hard to weigh all the options. Is a North American stone or one that’s imported the right choice for your project? Time frame, color choices and design goals such as patriotism are factors that guide the decision-making process.

Time Frame and Color Considerations

Domestic stone suppliers offer numerous advantages related to the speed of delivery. Although the actual fabrication times for natural stone fabrication are similar for both domestic and international product sources, transportation from the factory to the project site can be significant with an international quarry or fabrication facility. Ocean voyages can range from three to five weeks, not including delays that can occur at the point of origin or customs at the port of entry.

Keeping these potential delays in mind, a safe time frame for standard stonework from an international source is 16 to 24 weeks from release of the order. For complex stonework or large pieces, additional time should be allowed. Be very cautious on tight time frames, as it is very difficult to expedite any of the process steps if the schedule begins to slip.

On the other hand, a domestic supplier seldom requires more than five to seven days for transport from the factory to the project site. When the schedule is critical, a North American stone source is essential to ensuring a successful outcome for your client. The supply chain is almost always shorter with a North American source, allowing for better control from the quarry to fabricating facility, or in a best-case scenario, completely controlled by the manufacturer with quarry ownership.

Veterans’ Memorials and Iconic American Projects

One example of an iconic American project where domestic stone is a high priority is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The memorial consists of 12-foot-high walls of rugged, split Carnelian granite from Coldspring® that appears as though they have just emerged from the quarry. The walls encompass four outdoor “rooms,” signifying the four terms of Roosevelt’s presidency. Dedication of the FDR Memorial in 1997 marked the culmination of a 20-year effort and building project of massive scope.

Sourcing stone from a domestic quarry was a high priority for the design team on the Roosevelt Memorial project. American landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, selected Carnelian granite because of its similarity in color to the reddish gray flied stone used on the Roosevelt estate at Hyde Park in New York. Of the 7.5 acres comprising the Roosevelt Memorial, 135,000 square feet of surface area is covered with granite. For this project, nothing but stone from an American quarry could symbolize the patriotism of one of the United States’ greatest leaders.

Also on the National Mall, the Korean War Memorial incorporates domestic stone as a symbol of patriotism. Dedicated in 1995, The Korean War Memorial honors those Americans who served our country in Korea and those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom. Coldspring’s Academy Black® granite wall, etched with a symbolic mural, stands 165 feet long and ranges in height from 11 to 4 1/2 feet as the terrain rises. The sandblasted mural incorporates more than 24,000 faces computer-copied from anonymous photographs at the National Archives. Bands of polished granite across the memorial’s ground suggest the tilled terrain in parts of Korea.

Victory Memorial DriveLike the Korean War Memorial, the Victory Memorial Drive memorial in Minneapolis is a tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in service to this country. Selecting a local stone was particularly important for the Victory Memorial Drive project, which commemorates fallen soldiers and nurses from Hennepin County who served in World War I. The beautifully landscaped, tree-lined boulevard is part of the Grand Rounds, a 50-mile tour of parkways and parks around Minneapolis. A striking tribute, the names of 568 men and women from Hennepin County who died in the war are inscribed on bronze crosses and stars.

The flag plaza includes granite balustrade walls, a granite flag base and benches, and new large granite gateway monuments at the entrances to Victory Memorial Drive. For the memorial, more than 4,500 square feet of Lake Superior Green® granite from Coldspring was used.

“We knew granite would be the main material from the beginning because of its longevity,” said Jason Aune Landscape Architect at LHB. “The Lake Superior Green® granite from Coldspring was quarried in Isabella, Minnesota, meeting the project’s native material requirement.

More than 4,600 square feet of Carnelian® was used for paving the 80-foot-diameter plaza. Additionally, more than 150 square feet of Sierra White® was incorporated into the plaza surface to create contrast. Radiant Red® was used on the service banners on the gateway monuments.

Sustainable Quarriers and Processors

Certified Genuine StoneWhether looking at domestic or international material, sustainability is often a big consideration. ANSI/NSC 373-certified stone is a new standard created to drive sustainability practices in the natural stone industry. While the third-party-verified ANSI/NSC 373 is an international standard and available for stone producers around the world, presently only U.S. stone companies are certified.

When working on a monument or a civic memorial, consider the benefits of certified stone and the transparency of the process that it provides. The purpose of the standard is to recognize and drive sustainability practices in the natural dimension stone industry. The Natural Stone Council Standard (ANSI/NSC 373) establishes a set of well-defined environmental, ecological, social responsibility and human health metrics that are recognized by the green building movement as a leadership in sustainability performance.

As the standard gains acceptance in the stone industry across the globe, certified stone will be one of the key differentiators for companies demonstrating environmental leadership through their commitment to sustainable operations. Whether working with a domestic or international stone supplier, ensure you source a certified stone supplier for project owners with sustainability goals.

Final Considerations

No matter the monument or memorial project, the goal remains the same – a beautiful tribute that stands the test of time. Natural stone meets these requirements as the most striking, durable material to use for memorials and monuments. Carefully coordinate with your stone supplier to ensure your project goals are met. Consider the project’s timeframe, your desired color choices, sustainability goals and a provider who can accommodate your needs. Whether the stone comes from a domestic or international source, you can be certain your project will be a source of inspiration for generations to come.

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