The medieval stone construction found throughout Europe is a popular look for modern buildings in North America. But capturing that old-world architecture while still meeting contemporary construction standards and building performance needs is a challenge for builders, architects and developers.
To achieve the building strength and height they wanted, medieval builders needed to make stone walls several feet thick, a method which is just not practical today. But even stone veneer, which has been used for decades, comes with risks at great heights. It is simply too heavy for the structure to carry, and can be dangerous to passersby below.
To achieve the look of stone construction requires the use of limestone veneer, such as StoneCoat CARVE. A perfect example of this is the Entrada Tower in Westlake, Texas.
A Defining Structure
Just west of Dallas, the community of Entrada at Westlake offers a little slice of Catalonia. With homes, shops and even a church inspired by medieval Spanish architecture, the community is a charming retreat from the hectic Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
Standing over a retail center that welcomes residents and visitors, a 130-foot tower serves as the defining structure for Entrada. It evokes an old-world, Mediterranean authenticity that is not often seen in modern construction.
But designing the tower to have that authentic look while meeting modern construction needs presented a difficult challenge. To meet this challenge, the developers turned to StoneCoat.
Wind and Weight Challenges
At 130 feet high but just 12 feet square, the Entrada Tower is a narrow, tall structure. That design meant that it would be susceptible to severe wind loads. The tower needed to be able to safely sway as much as six inches during high wind events, which are common in North Texas.
Compounding that challenge was the town’s desire to have an authentic Catalonian look, complete with stone cladding. The town council was adamant that the cladding be as realistic as possible, with no faux stone.
“The town council put the project under a microscope,” said Robin McCaffrey, who served as the town architect for Westlake when the tower was built. “They didn’t want something that would be embarrassing. They didn’t want a Magic Castle. They wanted it to look as authentic as possible.”
Stone veneer would provide the look the town wanted, but it is extremely heavy. Installing stone veneer at heights above 30 feet with a narrow base can be dangerous and requires the structure to have complicated support devices.
StoneCoat offered a solution that would be easier to install, weigh much less than stone veneer, and still provide the European charm the town wanted.
StoneCoat CARVE® Provides the Solution
Working with McCaffrey, StoneCoat created a spandrel panel system that allowed the tower to flex in the wind. “We designed a panel that was connected to the steel frame with slotted bolts,” McCaffrey recalled. “Any wind deflection would be accommodated by the ability of the bolt connections to accommodate movement.”
The panels were fabricated on the ground then cladded with StoneCoat CARVE lightweight limestone veneer. The panels were then masterfully carved to mirror the look of stacked stone.
McCaffrey was impressed by the StoneCoat installers’ ability to create an authentic look. “Each panel had to be different. You couldn’t just have a pattern that you stamped in,” he said. “They did it all by hand and were very artistic.”
The spandrel panels were then installed on the tower structure, leaving invisible joints to account for the tower’s swaying and flexing in the wind. The lightweight veneer made the panels easier to install and eliminated the risk of stone veneer delaminating and causing damage or injury.
Because the panels were finished in StoneCoat limestone veneer, the façade has the look and feel of real stone. “When people go by, they can’t tell that it’s not actual stone,” McCaffrey said. “The town council was very pleased. It was a great success.”
A Source of Pride
The Entrada Tower in Westlake stands on a hill, a beacon welcoming residents and visitors to the community. More than that, it’s a source of pride to the community.
“It’s not something you can see anywhere else,” McCaffrey concluded. “Westlake is very proud of it.”
Is StoneCoat CARVE Right for Your Project?
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