You may have read an earlier blog about our fascination with ordinary materials in particular, concrete block. Recently, we encountered an unexpected design opportunity on the Scandlon Gym Addition Spillman Farmer is doing for Kings College in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
We are using ordinary unpainted concrete block as the interior finish for the Recreation Center. We decided to course the block in a running stack bond and further accentuate the coursing with raked and flush joints. The overall pattern is evocative of a natural slate wall and provides interesting human scale to a utilitarian wall.
Our team understood that the unfinished block would vary slightly in color and anticipated that this would add a subtle richness to the overall wall composition. What we did not anticipate however, was that the structural bond beam component to the wall would vary greatly in color from the field block. Unlike the field block, the bond beam block was manufactured during a different time of year and used a lighter aggregate harvested from a different quarry. The coursing of the bond beam was not carefully considered and we needed to do so quickly as the masons were beginning to lay the walls up.
A far cry from applied ornament, this distinctive patterning now begins to describe the building’s structure to its users. Stay tuned for the finished product.
Excerpt from Mike Metzger – check out the excitement;
“We were presented with two options: 1. Paint the block – certainly the simplest, would have cost a little more, but would have been consistent and safe on the interior … or 2. Develop a way to incorporate the varying colors in a logical way and locate them to create a strong composition. We decided to articulate this unexpected nuance by carefully considering the structural course within the wall. The required bond beams were stacked in keeping with the coursing pattern and then organized in a striated pattern within the wall. Not the simplest, certainly a bit riskier, but we felt strongly about keeping the block exposed, so we took a bit of time and worked out with the masons, a pattern that has some variation and some order. The full composition will be better than what we had originally planned for. It is going to give another layer of dimension, and add some movement to the space”!
“We are lucky to be working with Caretti Masonry and these guys are doing a fantastic job and really are putting care into their work. Can’t say enough good things about them. I’ve been speaking with their foreman and believe me when I tell you that he is very concerned with his work and making something really great. He noted that the double stack doesn’t really take any longer to set and that they’re in a rhythm with the coursing and are moving. And he likes it!!! Which tells me that he’s not just laying block out there, but he’s taking the time to get invested in the project and has buy in. Can’t ask for more”!!!
“we’re taking common inexpensive materials that sometimes get overlooked, and exploiting their possibilities by using them in uncommon ways. Not high cost, definitely high impact”.
Couldn’t have said it better Mike! Stay tuned for the finished product.