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Hardscape Design Adds Aesthetics to Retail Development -- Shoppes at Stonewall




The seven light columns, affectionately nicknamed "totems," are constructed of single-wythe clay masonry units topped with custom lamp housings. Single-wythe clay masonry units also make up all of the exposed brick on the buildings. This product does not require any backing masonry, saving on material costs and additional labor, while still being real clay brick.
Photos: Jason Radice, ASLA
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In response, there is more investing in the aesthetics of these centers, first with architectural treatments, and, more recently, hardscapes and landscapes. With sophisticated consumers and active local governments and community groups, gone are the days of the rubber-stamped strip center.

The Shoppes at Stonewall in Gainesville, Va. demonstrates this trend of large upscale lifestyle centers. This level of hardscape treatment used to be reserved for high-end pedestrian-oriented "Main Street" developments. Plazas and outdoor dining patios define gathering spaces and decorative sidewalks link those components to enhance the consumer experience. Project developer Regency Centers is requesting these features for their outdoor centers with great community response. The scope of the Shoppes project was to design a unified hardscape for the open-air shopping center to complement the architecture, and, of course, get design approval from the neighborhood community group.

The project theme is a reflection of the name and primary landscape feature of the adjacent golf course community, Stonewall Country Club. The design element that ties the center's hardscapes together is the repetitive use of low stone walls. The selection of materials and the design of the spaces were critical to satisfy the aesthetic demands and maintain a safe, usable and comfortable hardscape for shoppers.






The low seat walls and plinths topped by limestone planters are all of 'Conestoga' stone with precast concrete custom cast stone caps.


Clay brick pavers without chamfers or lugs and flat-topped concrete pavers are cart-friendly, and the lack of an aggressive surface texture reduces the tripping hazard of uneven paver surfaces. The paver brick, wall veneer stone, and precast concrete are same materials used on the buildings, and the concrete pavers were selected to closely match the colors of the veneer stone. Even the site furnishing colors tie into the building storefront and lighting colors. This helps to bring the architecture out into the landscape by using the same colors and textures, and makes for a cohesive and polished design.

The landscape architect creatively designed these spaces to reflect a modern, clean, and precise hardscape, yet the stone, pavers, brick, and naturalized landscape soften the rigidity of the buildings and the geometry of the hardscape patterns. Seven masonry columns topped with custom lamp houses, affectionately nicknamed 'totems', are strategically placed to draw the eye to the pedestrian plazas. This hardscape is atypical of this type of development. The hardscape is also the singular unifying element in a project that includes two sets of small retail strips, two mini anchor strips, outparcel restaurant pads and a major grocery anchor, Wegmans.






True 4x8-inch 'Mountain Red' clay pavers, Genesis 'River Bed Blend' pavers and ADA 'Charcoal' pavers comprise the hardscape. Large scale stone-like concrete pavers and wide, but very detailed, patterned brick inlays further work to reduce the scale of the architecture by reducing the difference in the scale of materials. The brick inlays in the stone-like pavers are also strategically offset from every other inlay to break up any long axis lines in the pavement.


Landscape architects know it is difficult to create a pedestrian-scale environment with buildings ranging from 20,000 square feet to 130,000 square feet, and upwards of 40-ft. high and with 100-ft. plus long storefronts. Add acres of parking surrounding the buildings, and the task becomes more daunting. The typical treatment for this type of shopping center is to pave from curb to building with concrete sidewalk, as much as 20 feet of pavement width. A few different "optical tricks" were employed to reduce the scale of the site as well as the scale of the buildings.

The sidewalk was removed from along the entire building facade of the major anchors and kept along the curb. Large landscape beds were then placed against the building to allow for the planting of medium sized trees that, when mature, will provide a canopy for the sidewalk, visually reducing the size of the building for the pedestrian.

To further reduce the scale of the architecture, a series of stone plinths topped by limestone planters were strategically placed between the sidewalk and the building. These plinths bring the architecture out to the sidewalk as well provide a pedestrian scale "buffer" by drawing the eye away from the building. Large scale stone-like concrete pavers and wide, but very detailed patterned brick inlays further work to reduce the scale of the architecture by reducing the difference in the scale of materials. The brick inlays in the stone-like pavers are also strategically offset from every other inlay to break up any long axis lines in the pavement, further redirecting the eye and reducing the visual scale of the plazas by creating much smaller areas of a single type of paver, which would make the plazas look much larger.






Clay brick pavers without chamfers or lugs and flat-topped concrete pavers are cart-friendly and reduce tripping hazards. The paver brick, wall veneer stone, and precast concrete are the same materials used on the buildings. The concrete pavers were selected to closely match the colors of the veneer stone. Most of the expansion joints in the sidewalks along the buildings are hidden under the paver inlays. The inlays align with projections or columns on the buildings, greatly reducing the probability of stress cracks in the concrete leading to premature failure of the sidewalk.


The project features several innovative design details created and implemented to keep the desired aesthetic. Doors on the anchors and at the architecturally significant building projections are highlighted with either the stone-like concrete pavers or an argyle pattern in the concrete to highlight them on the ground plane, causing the eye to redirect toward the storefront. Most of the expansion joints in the sidewalks along the buildings are hidden under the paver inlays. These inlays align with projections or columns on the buildings, greatly reducing the probability of stress cracks in the concrete leading to premature failure of the sidewalk.

The custom fabricated "totem" light fixture and lamp house were carefully designed to create a large fixture without multiple hot spots. The totems and the buildings were also constructed of an unusual product: structural single wythe clay masonry units make up all of the exposed brick on the totems and buildings. This product does not require any backing masonry, saving on material costs and additional labor, while still being real clay brick. Hardscape drainage was cleverly concealed using ACO Drain's Brick Slot system, allowing the drainage to become virtually invisible and not interfere with the paving pattern when compared with traditional trench or yard drains.

The Landscape Architect's Role

Landscape architects working within an architecture office are often presented with challenging opportunities not generally granted to LAs in traditional practice or in engineering firms. In addition to the synthesis of the complete hardscape/landscape experience, consisting of schematic design, conceptual landscape design, construction documents and construction administration, the landscape architect also coordinates different aspects in the site development--from a site planning role with locating building services and placing building locations, to reviewing and suggesting revisions to the engineering drawings for compliance with ADA and IBC codes and grading and refining pedestrian and vehicular circulation. Being in the same office as the architect allows for comparing and sharing design elements and materials at an early stage in the design. Being with an architecture firm has the benefit of added clout with consultants and clients.

The landscape architect and their design played a critical in obtaining approval from the advocacy group charged with making the center fit with the existing residential community. Regular meetings with the group, the client, and the architect and landscape architect addressed and alleviated the community's concerns with little objection or revision to the original concept.






Design & Construction Team
Landscape Architect:Bignell Watkins Hasser, PC, Annapolis, Md., Jason T. Radice, RLA, ASLA
Building Architect:Bignell Watkins Hasser, PC, Annapolis, Md., Ted Connelly, RA
Civil Engineer:Bohler Engineering, Sterling, Va.
General Contractor:L.F. Jennings, Inc., Falls Church, Va., Kenneth Simonsen
Pavers & Brick:J&S Pavers, Inc., Upper Marlboro, Md.
Concrete Flatwork:LFJ Concrete, Falls Church, Va.
Landscape Design:Tina Woods-Smith Design, Vienna, Va.
Landscape Installer:Denison Landscaping & Nursery, Inc., Fort Washington, Md.

Materials
Clay brick--Interstate Brick, West Jordan, Utah --
true 4x8-inch 'Mountain Red' clay pavers
Concrete pavers--Capitol Concrete, South Amboy, New Jersey --Genesis 'River Bed Blend' pavers
ADA pavers--Hanover Architectural Products, Hanover, Pa.--ADA 'Charcoal' pavers
Precast concrete--Potomac Cast Stone, Berryville, Va.--custom cast stone caps and sills
Cultured stone veneer--Quality Stone Veneer, Refton, Pa.--'Conestoga' stone
Totem lamp houses--Southeast Sheet Metal, Woodbridge, Va.--Custom BWH designed fixtures

Site Furnishings
Benches:Victor Stanley, 'Ladderback'
Trash receptacles:Victor Stanley, S-35, bronze color
Limestone planters:Haddonstone (USA) Ltd., 'Highland Park' planter
Bollards:Ironsmith, 'Atlantian' with cast aluminum caps, bronze color





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June 18, 2019, 8:38 am PDT

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