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5 Ways Architects + Designers can continue their Stone Education and Learning

Are you an architect or designer in AEC interested in learning more about the natural properties of stone—or how to specify it?

With so many building materials available on the market, it can be difficult to know which is best for your project. Natural stone is a superior building material, and specifying stone has become an art. With it comes many factors to consider: What do you need to know about its species, colour variations, and finish possibilities? Is the selected material and anchoring system suitable for your application? Is the quarry able to produce the sizes and quantities you need?


Here are five ways you can expand your knowledge about natural stone:


Image by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash.

1. Earn Professional Credits

Did you know the NSI and AIA offer CEU-accredited courses? Whether through the Natural Stone University, or your own offline learning, there are a variety of subjects you should explore to complement your professional career and help with some of the choices you face when designing a project, such as:

  • Best uses for different types of stone

  • Stone fabrication (natural vs. sintered) and finishes

  • Standards for anchor design and why testing is important for safety

  • Planning for the longevity of an installation

  • How the composition of stone can affect building performance

PICCO has been a member of the Natural Stone Institute for over 20 years, regularly contributing course content, sponsoring events, participating in mentorship programs as well as using the testing lab for client projects. Currently, Mike Picco serves on the board as President.



Image by Kit Ko via Unsplash.

2. Explore the geology and history of stone

The geological makeup of various natural stones are a major determining factor when specifying materials. What is the history of stone and what path does it take from the quarry to the kitchen? Understanding how it is processed, the standard sizes, and where it can be applied is key.


#granite: typically the hardest of the dimensional stones, suitable for flooring or wall cladding

#limestone: most common in a “honed” finish, ideal for large and features such as columns

#marble: strongest material and can be highly polished or non-reflective, used for floors/walls

#onyx: originates from dripstone deposits of limestone caves, use as feature walls or landscaping

#quartzite or #sandstone: taken from the ground in individual layers, typically used as pavers

#serpentine: softer than granite and harder than marble, used as facing stone or wall tiles

#slate: relatively dense, natural cleft material typically used for flooring or roofing

#travertine resistant to weathering, it can stand up to cold and hot climates and used for statues


The above is just a small sample of stone selection and their attributes. We encourage you to explore continued and further research of your own. Need assistance? PICCO is experienced working with quarries and stone fabricators to help you source and select the right stone, fabrication technique, stone testing and cladding application best suited for your project.



Image by Olga Serja via Unsplash.

3. Watch a Webinar

Take a peek at PICCO’s Webinar Education Series for informative sessions on the use of stone across a variety of building projects. We also engage with architects, designers and engineers in case studies to share our knowledge, behind the scenes expertise and learning outcomes.


1. Stone Cladding Technologies—Getting it Right the First Time

Find out what stone cladding technologies exist and learn what key factors are important to ensure your project is done right the first time including:

  • Material Selection

  • Structural Integrity & Back up

  • Shop Drawings

  • Anchor Design

  • Anchors

2. Stone is Structure

See a “pure” example of stone as structure in a museum, how solid stone structural loadbearing columns are used at a university, highlight of a feature stair success story in a Toronto private residence, followed by a special roundtable discussion on Our Past, Our Future—Our Present with Mike Picco, Steve Webb (Webb Yates) and Bryan Thorburn of Polycor.


3. Masonry—Let’s Get Creative

Take a look at a unique application and use of terra cotta, exterior stone cladding on aluminum rail systems, traditional institutional masonry installation, and how prefabrication can be considered to help save time and money by using stone and masonry as structure.



Image by Nick Grappone via Unsplash.

4. Learn the value of sustainability

Stone comes from Mother Nature…the human connection to natural materials and using them in design and architecture can create a sense of serenity and excitement! It’s worth researching how stone differs from artificial materials in regard to sustainability—and the impact it has on the future of building as a whole. While the stone industry continues to reduce environmental impacts through technology advancements and responsible manufacturing processes, historical uses of natural stone have stood the test of time.


Materials like natural stone or real wood have a certain allure, but they also face many misconceptions related to maintenance and sustainability. Working with a stone expert like PICCO, clients get to see examples of how key characteristics of stone (such as its life cycle and carbon footprint) can satisfy elements of green building standards.


The benefits of natural materials (and debunking the myths surrounding natural building products) will re-energize your project’s connection to nature!



Image by Sarah Darcaj via Unsplash.

5. Commit to learning how you can use Stone differently

Have you considered the durability, beauty, and value of stone for more than just museums and institutional buildings? You can do so much more and get creative beyond the familiarity of common stone applications used in commercial, residential, interior, and exterior spaces such as:


+ ART/CARVING (sculptures)

+ STAIRCASES (solid or self-supporting)

+ STOREFRONTS (retail applications)

+ LANDSCAPING (gardens or entryways)


Technology has changed, making stone more economical, whereby giving Architects and Designers more options!



Connect with PICCO!

Natural stone, both beautiful and durable, is one of the oldest and most dramatic elements found in architecture. But did you know PICCO can engineer a facade with materials other than stone? Engage an expert with knowledge of the options available from materials, to fabrication to installation.

Interested in talking to us about your project?

Email us at: info@piccogroup.com