Innovative Design Strategies Written in Stone

Webinar On-Demand
Sponsored by Natural Stone Institute
Presented by Rodrigo Abela, Nan Gutterman, and Beka Sturges

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define the aesthetic, environmental, and structural benefits of natural stone as a building material in new construction and detailed restorations.
  2. Describe the implementation of building design strategies using natural stone employed in the featured projects.
  3. Explain the basic focus of the overall design and construction process behind the highlighted projects.
  4. Identify challenges and solutions employed in the design and renovation of stone facades, landscape elements, and other architectural features highlighted in three high-profile projects.


1 AIA LU/Elective
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
This course is approved as a core course
This test is no longer available for credit

This course is part of the Natural Stone Academy

This webinar will explore innovative uses of natural stone in building and landscape design with a focus on both residential and public sphere applications. It will profile three unique projects that uniquely highlight the aesthetic, environmental, and structural strengths of natural stone as a building material.

Beka Sturges, ASLA,LEED AP, associate principal for Reed Hilderbrand, will present on the exacting architectural renovation of Old Quarry, a house designed by minimalist sculptor Tony Smith in 1953 as part of a unique suburban subdivision set within a former waterfront quarry in Connecticut. Reed Hilderbrand, the project’s landscape architect, took the site’s own granite—quarry refuse and bedrock—as its primary medium, reordering and manipulating the stone to heighten the experience of the found conditions and to integrate the building volumes with the site’s larger patterns.

Rodrigo Abela, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP BD+C, principal with landscape architect GGN (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol) Ltd., will present on CityCenterDC, a winner of the 2018 Tucker Design Award from Building Stone Institute. The 10-acre site in the heart of Washington, D.C., with its featured elements of natural stone, is one of the largest downtown projects in the nation and an urban center mixing commercial, retail, and residential uses.

Nan Gutterman, FAIA, project manager at Philadelphia-based Vitetta, will present on the Philadelphia City Hall restoration project. After more than a decade-long restoration project, the white marble exterior of Philadelphia City Hall has been brought back to its original grandeur.

The presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion focused on how ambitious projects using natural stone address several key issues, including:

  • Cost: What tradeoffs, if any, are required to achieve design excellence using natural stone? In the featured projects, did using stone add costs that needed to be recouped in other areas of the project, or did it actually reduce overall costs?
  • Regulatory barriers: Were there any regulatory or other legal barriers that the project needed to overcome? If so, what strategies did the design team use to overcome them?
  • Drivers:Did the owner request the stone building or landscape features, or did you, as the architects, propose it? If the latter, what led you to suggest the specific stone used?
  • Design constraints and opportunities

Photo courtesy of © CityCenterDC

Rodrigo Abela headshot

Rodrigo Abela, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP BD+C, is the principal in charge of GGN’s Washington, D.C., office and is currently responsible for handling the majority of GGN’s east-coast projects. His award-winning work is recognized for its striking clarity in form, materials, and purpose. Rodrigo's design work has been focused in urban centers around the country at a variety of scales and is informed both with a thoughtful incorporation of the human experience and clear understanding of the fabrication and construction process. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Cornell University and a Master of Architecture and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia.

Nan Gutterman headshot

Nan R. Gutterman, FAIA, FAPT, is a project manager and senior preservation architect at VITETTA, a Philadelphia-based architectural firm. She has more than 39 years of experience. From 1999 to 2011, she worked on the Philadelphia City Hall Exterior Envelope Renovations project, serving as the project manager and senior preservation architect. The project received awards from local, state, and national agencies as well as a Building Stone Institute Tucker Award in 2012.

Beka Sturges headshot

Beka Sturges is a principal at Reed Hilderbrand and leads the firm’s New Haven office. His current work includes landscapes at Yale and Brown Universities, Storm King Art Center, and Boscobel House and Gardens. Beka served as the project landscape architect and manager for the award-winning expansion of The Clark Art Institute in the Berkshires.


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