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Permeable Pavers Fulfill College's ''Green'' Wishes

By Matt Foley, Unilock




The team that designed the South Quadrangle Plaza at Stonehill College used Eco-Priora(TM) 10"x10" permeable unit pavers with colors complementing the facade of the neighboring Shields Science Center. Approximately 20,000 square feet of pavers were used here and these pavers are jointed with a dark grey ASTM #9 Aggregate.
Photos: Unilock
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Monarch Stone Int'l Came America

Universities across the country are pledging their commitment to our environment through sustainable design and 'green' infrastructure. Stonehill College is no exception, with its recently completed South Quadrangle Plaza and Landscape Project.

Situated 20 miles south of Boston, Stonehill is a private Catholic liberal arts college in the suburban community of Easton, Mass. With design firms Brown Sardina Landscape Architects and Nitsch Engineering collaborating, the project began in spring of 2009 after the completion of Stonehill's new Shields Science Center. S/L/A/M Collaborative designed this new signature building on the southern part of campus and it enabled the relocation of a circulation roadway, which opened the way for a complementary project - the new South Quadrangle.




Three custom colors were matched in the manufacturer's color lab and further enhanced through careful collaboration between the landscape architect and paver manufacturer.

Design Challenges
While the South Quadrangle unified the college's existing landscape, it proved to be a considerable hurdle for the design teams, as Stonehill required an expansive plaza area for seasonal events. The plan for such a large pavement included event electrical requirements and permanent anchorages for a major tent canopy. In addition, integrating a traditional collegiate-type strategy for large planes of lawn, pathways and canopies of trees created a design challenge for the landscape architecture team.




Flush mounted aluminum plates protect anchorages for a massive tent canopy and house electrical resources. These features were required because the site is used for seasonal events.

Green Campus
From the earliest stages of this project, the landscape architecture and civil engineering firms embraced the college's desire to be a green campus. The result was unique, however there were significant design changes after the initial bid. The original design incorporated an impervious surface area of bituminous-set clay brick over a reinforced concrete slab. Area drains were to be conveyed to a subsurface recharge system. When the project went to bid, the results were considerably over budget. After site examination and analyzing the suitability of a permeable pavement, the project was rebid and ultimately realized a total cost savings of 34 percent with the elimination of the dense pavement base profile and associated subsurface storm water system.

Nitsch Engineering is well known for their experience in sustainable infrastructure and having existing relationships with the local conservation commission made for an easy transition to a permeable surface pavement. The conservation commission accepted permeable pavement as a best management practice for this plaza initiative. Large areas of dense pavement can greatly diminish and often eliminate any potential for storm water infiltration.

Without the natural infiltration of rainfall, such pavements accumulate pollutants and sediments that ultimately are conveyed into local water supplies, most often through costly and largely unseen grey infrastructure.




Rhythm and geometry define the new South Quad, while providing structural pavement combined with stormwater management. Native plantings frame the plaza and soften the feel of the expansive paved area. The grasses include pennisetum alopecuroides 'hameln' or 'dwarf fountain grass' and miscanthus sinensis 'little kitten' or 'little kitten maiden grass.' These grasses provide a contrast to the expanse of the plaza area with their flowing character.


Permeable Paver Solution
The choice of a permeable plaza surface was the result of examination of site subgrade infiltration rates and an overall storm water strategy to prevent runoff that would otherwise be generated by such a large expanse of solid pavement. The Shields Science Center's south side was returned to a lawn area, while the east and west edges contain bio-remediation area-basins engineered to capture water draining from the entire site and return them to the adjacent woods and Ames Pond.

Additional new site amenities include campus standard light fixtures and fixed metal tables offering unique viewpoints to the beauty of the South Quad. New England fieldstone seating walls allow people to engage at the plaza perimeter and they match the numerous natural stone walls existing on campus. Unique details for tent anchorages were designed in concert with the canopy manufacturer and resulted in flush mount panels that also included electrical supply for social gatherings.

The plaza paving was constructed of approximately 20,000 square feet of Eco-Priora(TM) permeable unit pavers manufactured by Unilock(R). One challenge was to break up the massive pavement requirement while creating a sense of scale incorporating rhythm and geometry. 'Folding in' the north pavements edges made for a more intimate approach to the new expanse of turf area.




Workers increased their labor efficiencies by utilizing paver carts on this hand-installed permeable pavement. The project originally called for an impervious surface area, but that surface put the project over budget, forcing elimination of the dense pavement base profile and associated subsurface storm water system.


The landscape architecture team imagined the 5" x 10" and 10" x 10" units laid in a modern rectilinear pattern with colors complementing the architecture of the Shields Science Center. Three custom colors were matched in the manufacturer's color lab and further enhanced through careful collaboration between the landscape architect and paver manufacturer.

Admittedly apprehensive about the custom color selection, the landscape architecture group expressed value in visiting the local manufacturing of the permeable concrete paving units and being intimately involved in the color blending.

The South Quadrangle represents an innovative blend of form and function, marrying structural pavement with storm water design. A campus crossroads, the South Quad is a solid example of environmental stewardship at an institute of higher learning.


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November 13, 2019, 7:18 pm PDT

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