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Circles of Life
The circle has captivated mankind since his beginnings.

LASN Editor Steve Kelly


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The circle has captivated mankind since his beginnings. While the pleasing symmetry and intriguing proportions of circles intrigued ancient peoples in a purely visual sense, some quickly grasped that a circle possessed a unique ratio to its diameter. The Babylonians formulated the area of a circle by taking 3 times the square of its radius, and an ancient Babylonian tablet (ca. 1900-1680 BCE) impressively refined the calculation of pi (π) to 3.125. Today, the value of pi is normally notated out to five decimal places (3.14159), although computers have generated pi to billions of digits.

Pi's interest to mathematicians aside, people simply find the circle an appealing and pleasing shape. Geometric shapes in general get people's interest, but circles have translated into so many practical applications and are so fundamental to our lives that only a few moments of reflection congers up aspect of our ''round world'': wheels; gears; ball bearings; rotors; food and drink vessels; ball sports . . . buttons. You get the idea. It's self-evident.

Designers are fond of the circle. Circles aren't too far behind "squares" as the most popular of shapes for public spaces. In LASN's request for hardscape projects, we saw the prevalence of circular hardscapes, and so, though it might be fun to show a variety of hardscape installations that celebrate our fascination with the circle.

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The labyrinth surface at St. John's Episcopal Church in midtown Tulsa is Brickform architectural concrete. An 11-circuit labyrinth stencil, based on the Chartres, France labyrinth configuration, was sandblasted to the surface.


St. John's Episcopal Church, Midtown Tulsa
Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Interior Design by GH2 Architects, LLC, Tulsa

St. John's Episcopal Church is a midtown Tulsa architectural gem constructed in the 1950s. The project included a building addition and converting green space into a courtyard, with the proviso to preserve the historic fabric and character of the campus.

The project landscape architect led the design and construction of the exterior spaces, and worked alongside the architects for the multipurpose room rehabilitation to assure continuity with the new courtyard. The project landscape architect designed and detailed all aspects of the courtyard and enlisted the aid of electrical and structural consultants to ensure public health, safety and welfare.

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Natural sandstone pavers border the walk (left), abutting the cast-in-place architectural concrete. The red tinged pavers, seat walls and capstones are all Crab Orchard sandstone, a design specification to match the sandstone used in the church and building addition.


The St. John's Courtyard is a clean, complementary design that accentuates the beauty of the historical church. Stone, heavy timber and concrete were selected for compatibility to the structure and for durability. The new courtyard features a paved labyrinth with a starting point at the church tower. Although impervious hardscape increased on site, the project sought to minimize its impact by preserving and transplanting landscape. Stormwater was maintained at a surface level so that it could be returned to ground water on site and not directed to an inlet and piped off site. An arbor and water feature were added on axis with the church tower to provide additional focal points and the tranquil sounds of running water. The arbor complements the fence posts of the Memorial Garden.

Team
GH2 Architects Design, Tulsa
- Landscape Architect: Jeremy Carlisle, ASLA, PLA
- Architect: Brian Thomas, AIA, LEED AP, RID
- Interior Designer: Christina Harris, NCIDQ
- Architect of Record: Michael Hall, AIA, CCS
Structural Consultant: Wallace Engineering, Tulsa
MEP Engineering: MPW Engineering, LLC, 110 W 7th St
General Contractor: Magnum Construction, Inc., Broken Arrow, Okla.
Labyrinth Stencil: The Labyrinth Co., Kensington, Conn.
Excalibur Cast Stone, Oklahoma City
Landscape and Irrigation Installation: MLC, Inc.

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The plaza hardscape in front of the ranger's station at Johnson Shut-Ins State Park, Reynolds County, Missouri, offers a variety of colorful natural slate inlays bordered by "meshed pebbles" (cut stone mounted on mesh). The stenciled designs were sandblasting and painted with Lithichrome. The quote is inlaid stone and is from John Muri: "When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world." Creative Edge collaborated with Therese Huffman, Signature Design on this project.


Waterjet Designs

Creative Edge Master Shop in Fairfield, Iowa designs and fabricates architectural and industrial pieces using computer-controlled waterjet technology. The work begins with a customer drawing, blueprint, or electronic file. The file/drawing is scanned and digitized in AutoCAD, then through a computer aided manufacturing process is downloaded into one of 15 waterjet machines.

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This geologic timeline at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park has a variety of slates, polished black granite and bronze and stainless steel inlays. The concept was to use a spiral to create a geologic timeline from the oldest known record of earth (center) to today (outermost ring). Creative Edge collaborated with Therese Huffman, Signature Design also on this project.


A waterjet tool cuts a wide variety of materials using very high-pressured jets of water (30,000-90,000 psi). Higher water pressures, coupled with suspended abrasives (e.g., garnet), are used for harder surfaces. The nozzles are typically made of sintered boride. Waterjet does not exert pressure or heat on the working material, nor does it harden, or distort metals. The movement of the nozzle is computer controlled.

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The 25' medallion in the courtyard of Community Church of Vero Beach, Fla., comprises 3 cm-thick inlays of various granites: Amber Gold, Royal Sable, Kashmir White, Indian, Sierra White (all with thermal finishes) and Butterfly Blue (polished finish). There is also Kasota Valley limestone in a honed finish. The theme of the medallion is Christ as the fisher of men. The design was by Mark Sartain of Kimley-Horn & Associates, Vero Beach. Waterjet fabrication was by Creative Edge, which also did elements of the white granite benches and garden fountain. The contractor was Proctor Construction.


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Creative Edge Master Shop produced 10 6' medallions of Dr. Martin Luther King for the drive of the same name in Delrey Beach, Fla. This MLK likeness is in bronze with brass accents. The 'Sierra' white' and charcoal granite is 3 cm thick. MLK's name is lettered in stainless steel and bordered by brass rings. The quote was sandblasted and painted with Lithichrome. It reads: "Segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority." The design work was a collaboration of Creative Edge (Kevin Thomburg, project manager) and Kimley-Horn & Associates. The contractors were Brang Construction and West Construction.


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Wayzata Community Church, Wayzata, Minn.
Andrew Soto, editor

Natural Creations of Plymouth, M.N. designed a 32-foot diameter circular labyrinth constructed of limestone inlays and turf. The courtyard has brick walls on all sides, which required a 120-ft. crane to hoist in a MT55 Bobcat. A material box was used to excavate and lift out 50 tons of organic material, while ¾-inch gravel, sand, soil and other organic matter was craned in via 2-ton capacity material bags onto geotextile fabric. Approximately 4-6 inches of gravel was removed and amended soil installed within the voids of the stone path. It was then prepped for grass seed and lawn establishment. A manual sprinkler system was set up for the garden team to manage. Grass began to germinate quickly and the lawn was established in just two weeks.

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The design for the 32-foot diameter bluestone labyrinth at the Wayzata Community Church in Wayzata, Minn. is a modified seven-circuit layout inspired by a medieval design. The labyrinth was laid out off site. Each piece was labeled, then disassembled and stacked on pallets for delivery into the church courtyard via a 120' crane. The limestone inlays are 2'x2'. Fond du Lac limestone rims the labyrinth to create separation between the garden beds and the turf.


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Betances Plaza Reconstruction, Boston
Landscape Architecture by Rojas Design, Inc., Brighton, Mass.

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The renovated Betances Plaza in Boston is a curvilinear design of large raised cast-in-place concrete planters augmented by concrete 'Yankee Cobble' pavers in colorful bands. The site offers curvilinear metal seating, metal game tables and seating; 'Satellite Mini' lighting, a metal gateway structure and Victor Stanley trash receptacles.
Photo: Kerri Loftus Photography


Rojas Design, Inc., of Brighton, Mass., provided full site design and landscape architecture services to rebuild an urban plaza in Villa Victoria, an affordable housing community in Boston's South End. The design was based on the community's desire for a "Latin-themed" plaza in this historically Puerto Rican neighborhood." Area residents flock to the plaza for the annual Festival Betances. Locals have positively embraced the reinvigorated plaza.

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5,500 Pound Floating Sphere

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The 4' tall, 5,500 pound 48" diameter floating granite sphere sits atop an 8" tall pedestal at the entrance to the new Lucky Dragon Casino on West Sahara Avenue near the Las Vegas Strip. The circumference of the sphere is 150". Bob Gendler of Top Stone (www.topstone1.com) explains his company's precision equipment reduced the block of Chinese granite down to a perfectly round sphere with matching base to a tolerance of .0003 of an inch. Imagine an 18-axis CNC (computer numerical control) lathe! The concave cup base allows the sphere to turn by itself with a water pressure of less than 25 psi.


In 1986 Kusser Granitwerke of Germany fabricated a granite ball atop a pressurized fountain with such precision that the ball revolved and was steerable with minimal water pressure. "Kugel," the German word for ball or sphere, is the word associated with this phenomenon. The ball fountain is hydraulically controlled to keep the sphere changing its direction of rotation, so that its surface remains uniformly wet. Kusser installed the first floating sphere in the U.S. in 1989. Today, Kusser Fountainworks (a division of Kusser Graniteworks USA) represents the fountain construction technology developed by the European fountain and stone company, Kusser Granitwerke GmbH.

The owners of the new Lucky Dragon Casino, a 200-room hotel with five restaurants and a casino (37 tables, 300 slots) on the north side of Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas, wanted a floating sphere to attract attention. Inside, guests are treated to a 1¼-ton glass dragon sculpture designed and constructed by Preciosa Lighting of the Czech Republic. It required 800 employees working 12 40-hour workweeks, then 13 days to assemble it on site.



As seen in LASN magazine, February 2017.






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Last Updated 07-17-17