DESIGN PERSPECTIVE: ECHELON MASONRY FOR CNNA ARCHITECTS, INC.
CNNA Architects, Inc. is a world-class architectural and design firm with a diverse range of design projects, including a high-rise in Buckhead, Georgia, and the recent “rustic meets modern” Indian Creek Lodge at Georgia State University. The firm, according to Matthew Middleton, senior project manager, has a 20-year history of relationship-based service to its clients, having completed assignments such as commercial mixed-use buildings, retail strip malls, shopping centers, restaurants and custom projects like the GSU lodge. Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, CNNA recently completed the Atlanta Center for Medical Research, the largest facility of its kind, and a renovation of the old Macy’s 1926 location at 200 Peachtree. Middleton, who lives in Smyrna, Georgia, said CNNA takes on remodels and economic rehab spaces anywhere their customers need them, and are soon to be registered in all 50 states.
Middleton has a diverse design background, including prototype manager for The Home Depot as well as civil engineering experience, and has seen a lot of mixed-use commercial applications. He said that mixed-media and multi-textured exteriors are the most dramatic trends in recent years, whether the project is rustic or ultra-modern.
“Key to those design treatments are today’s stone veneers, which are being manufactured with more strength, realism, varied color palettes and styles, as well with energy and insulative values.”
“Their use typically arises organically, as the project’s exterior design comes together and the customer looks at style and color considerations. You also have to consider the mix of exterior materials — the geometry, siding and stone combinations.”
Two of his preferences are Oldcastle’s Echelon® Waterford and Lamina veneers. Waterford has a hand-chiseled, antique look, while Lamina suits the modern, clean look of stacked stone. “The style of the veneer has to seamlessly complement the type of project and blend in with the environment,” said Middleton. He added having dozens of styles and colors to choose from makes that matching process much easier. Their R-values, sound attenuation and regional manufacture of stone veneers also contribute to the LEED v4 points established in 2013 by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Middleton said he used stone veneers for a recent strip mall in Bluffton, Georgia, and was able to meet the design aesthetic the customer wanted, as well as budget and jurisdiction requirements. In addition to realistic color choices, stone veneers are now being offered in thinner profiles, which further improve their ease of use and accommodates less structural wall support systems. “Wall weight is a big issue in structural engineering and the lighter veneers allow us to use lighter steel members, so it is more economical in the long-run.”
Noting that many skilled masons left the industry during the downturn, bringing projects in on time and on budget often relies on being able to find good labor. “There is a learning curve with new technology in masonry products,” explained Middleton. “It’s important to get the workforce up to speed on the new systems and their proper installation.” Noting the one-on-one support he gets from Oldcastle, such as when the sales representative recently took time to explain a new wall system in person, he said, “Manufacturers need to balance training and field support with their investment in new products.”
As the new thin veneers become the go-to material for commercial construction projects and a solution to structural and energy issues, they are also emerging as a realistic, attractive, budget-friendly material. These systems, says Middleton, are a value-added for any project as the perfect accent material.
“I’m excited about the new innovations in stone veneers. They are more available, economical, have good performance ratings and price points and are more modular so easier to install.”
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