Deep in a eucalyptus grove on the Stanford University campus, architect Chris Dorman combined two thousand C-90 compliant Stanford Watershed Block with reclaimed timber and barnwood siding to demonstrate the beauty and utility of wise resource reuse. The Stanford Watershed Block's palette earns its rich reddish brown hue from faint amounts of red clay mixed with Mark West Springs basalt and Nun’s Canyon quarry fines, inspired by the rich reddish-brown sandstone beneath the Stanford campus. The red clay content was purposefully varied during the manufacturing run to accentuate the block’s coloration range. Image © SkyHawk Photography - Brian Haux.
Doorman Associates specified stacked bond with deeply raked horizontal joints using four, six and eight inch blocks, a clever and novel application for structural block. The Stanford Watershed Block meets ASTM C90 specifications for compressive strength, linear shrinkage and maximum absorption requirements, all while using less cement, reducing embodied energy, and incorporating unwashed, locally sourced aggregates. Beauty and sustainability are woven together for a new age of masonry. Image © SkyHawk Photography - Brian Haux.
“We wanted to build a project that fit within its surrounding context and was inherently sustainable. The site was located amongst several groves of trees on the north side of campus so our intent was to create a durable, lasting building that would maintain a strong connection to nature while seamlessly blending into the environment,” said architect and Stanford University campus planner Alexander Eng, who worked with Dorman Associates on the project.
“In addition to typical sustainability strategies including the use of natural ventilation through open air window screens and reclaimed wood siding, Watershed Block provided the unique opportunity to introduce both a more sustainable and aesthetically pleasing building solution. The availability of the material to come in a range of colors and sizes allowed us to celebrate the natural tonality and texture of the block's composition of recycled earth minerals in a way that added a richness to the project.” Image © SkyHawk Photography - Brian Haux.
Chris Dorman noted that his firm was first attracted to the Stanford Watershed Block because it offers the functionality and durability of concrete block with a reduced environmental impact and a color and texture that rose above the uniform appearance of concrete block. The project, near the tour bus parking lot on Lausen, is one of the first building many visitors to the Stanford campus see, followed quickly by Hoover Tower, Memorial Church, and the other one hundred year old sandstone buildings that make up the central quad.
Construction proceeded without a hitch, under the direction of Steve Mitchell, the site superintendent for general contractor Hillhouse Construction. Hillhouse prides themselves on their commitment to sustainable construction practices. The best feedback for Watershed Materials from Steve was how seamlessly the blocks fit into established masonry building practices - the classic example of “no news is good news.” In this case, no complaints from the tradesmen.