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Landscape architect chooses Belvedere wall to maintain the historic look of one of North America's earliest chocolate mill sites.
In early 2012, the city of Central Falls, Rhode Island began renovating an underutilized natural area on the banks of the Blackstone River. This little corner of Central Falls has a colorful history as home of one of North America's earliest chocolate mills, built in the late 1700s.
The mill in is long gone now, but the city wanted to commemorate the site by creating an interpretive path with signs, seat walls, and access to the river.
"Natural stone aesthetics were important because we are adjacent to a historic bridge made of granite that was designed well over 100 years ago," explained Don Leighton, President of the landscape architecture firm Gates, Leighton & Associates, Inc. "It was a challenge to make sure that whatever we picked was going to complement this bridge."
Natural stone was initially considered, but was just too expensive.
Leighton's partner brought the idea of using Rosetta to the design team, who tested some Rosetta samples by "kicking them around and beating on them with hammers to check the durability."
Rosetta is a complete line of hardscape products modeled after world-class natural stone. With consistent dimensions that replicate the look and feel of nature, Rosetta is a perfect choice for projects that require natural aesthetics and the durability of an architectural grade precast system.
The samples passed the durability test, but what sealed the deal was that Rosetta would be so fast to install. Leighton explained, "The material cost was a little more, but it took far less time to install; so in the long run, it met our goals and everyone was happy."
The first goal of this project was to navigate the 20-foot (6-meter) grade change between the park and the river. Leighton wanted to design a series of steps that would be smooth enough to install on top of one another, match the natural aesthetics of the nearby bridge and stonework, and create safe access for visitors.
Rosetta's line of Irregular Steps are cast in molds taken from natural stone so they look great and have consistent dimensions that make them easy to install and easy to walk on. "We found it pretty clever that each stone had two faces on it, so by rotating the 6 different stones we had, we gave the appearance of 12 different stone shapes."
The second goal of this "very small but important project" was to create a space for people to understand the historic significance of this site. "Because this was a public space, we wanted a heavy, durable product for the seat wall," he explained. Designers chose the Belvedere Collection from Rosetta to create the seat walls that surrounded the interpretive signs.
The Belvedere Collection is a hand-set line crafted after weathered fieldstone that features six block sizes with 64 unique stone textures. The seat wall Leighton designed included two parallel Belvedere walls with granular stone in between. To create a cap that would fit this design, "the manufacturer created a custom 22-inch (559-millimeter) wide cap so that the wall would seem extra thick which is exactly what we wanted," Leighton explained.
The entire staircase was installed in one-and-a-half days, and the seat wall (with caps) was installed in about three days. "It was a very fast process," Leighton said "It was far faster than anyone had thought."
Choosing Rosetta helped the Chocolate Mill Overlook Park achieve its goals of creating an aesthetic, natural landscape to help commemorate this historic site.
Project Name: Chocolate Mill Overlook Renovation Owner: City Of Central Falls And Blackstone Valley Tourism Council Block Manufacturer: Rosetta By DKI Local Dealer: NRI Stone, Inc. Landscape Design: Gates, Leighton & Associates, Inc., Landscape Architecture Wall Installer: David Meloni Landscaping Project Location: Central Falls, Rhode Island Year Completed: 2012 Case: 006 - Chocolate Falls
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