Architectural Record BE - Building Enclosure

Natural Modular Stone Systems: An Important Advancement in Mankind's First Building Material

This course is no longer active
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Sponsored by Real Stone Source, LLC.
Jeanette Fitzgerald Pitts
Continuing Education

Learning Objectives - After this course, you should be able to:

  1. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of using traditional full-bed natural stone and artificial stone in construction.
  2. Describe how natural modular stone systems offer design teams the benefits of both traditional full-bed natural stone and artificial stone, while eliminating most of the shortcomings.
  3. Explain the importance of certain variations in different natural modular stone systems.



Stone has been a popular design material for centuries. In fact, many consider stone to be the first building material ever used by man.  While loved for its beauty, timelessness and durability, designing with real stone has become less frequent due to the undesirable influence that this material often has on project schedules and costs. This is especially true today, where projects face increasingly tighter timelines and smaller budgets. In the past few decades, the design community has balanced its love of the stone aesthetic and the budgetary constraints of a project by settling for an artificial alternative. Now there is a new way to design with this classic material that enables architects to incorporate real stone onto projects, without extending timelines or exceeding budgets. Natural modular stone systems are an important advancement in the first building material of mankind.

The Strengths of Full-bed Stone

In construction today, when a stone aesthetic is designed into a building, stone is not used to create the physical structure of a building. Load bearing walls are not drystacked or mortared together.  Instead, the stone is used as a decorative veneer on walls and floors and columns to disguise the concrete, wood or steel structure of the building underneath.

Traditionally, these stone veneers were created from natural stone that was delivered directly to the job site from the quarry.  This quarry to project stone is called full-bed natural stone. These individual, full-bed stones were then stacked and arranged and mortared into the desired veneer by a stonemason on the job site.

Designers can use natural stone on their projects, without extending timelines or exceeding budgets, with natural modular stone systems. These modular systems, pictured here in an Ashlar pattern of tumbled sandstone, are an important advancement in the first building material of mankind.

Photo courtesy Real Stone Source, LLC.



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