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Landscape Architects Discuss Interlocking Pavestones

By: Alva D. Logsdon

This residential landscape is decorated with Uni-Eco(TM) stone, which features funnel-like openings in the pavement surface to facilitate rainwater infiltration, thereby reducing stormwater runoff and maximizing groundwater recharge and/or storage.

In this edition of PMBR several landscape architects from some of the top firms in the country discuss why concrete pavers are a top choice for pavements, why they specify pavers, and future trends for this material.

1. Why are interlocking concrete pavestones a good material choice for pavements?

Ryan: Durability, cost-effective, flexible pavement, aesthetic design freedom, and can be used as part of a green building strategy.

Smith: Pavers afford us the ability to introduce color, texture and pattern into paved areas at an economical price for our clients.

Roach: Interlocking pavestones have excellent durability, ease of future maintenance, and provide an enhanced feel that other paving materials can't match with a single-step installation process.

Thomas: The flexibility of being able to remove/reinstall the pavestones, and they are an economical way to delineate special paved areas.

Dunn: They are a low-cost alternative to natural stone products and a budgetary product enhancement to concrete and bituminous asphalt.

2. How do interlocking concrete pavestones aid the landscape architect in the design process?

Smith: The various sizes, styles and colors and the ability to produce custom blends give us a lot of options to add interest to the pavements within a project.

Roach: With interlocking pavestones the designer knows exactly what the final product will look like. Many other paving surfaces can't deliver the certainty of the finished product like with pavestones. You know that when the job is installed, the pattern will be as it was specified and the color will match the sample.

Thomas: The concrete pavers are a consistent product, i.e., we know their dimensions accurately, we know the color ranges accurately, and we know the availability vs. natural stone, which can be variable. Also, the concrete products can be customized at a very reasonable price.

Dunn: Local availability, cost effectiveness and technical support during the design process.

Ryan: Their flexibility and vast array of options that can in most cases allow one to bring a heightened level of detail to a client's project at a reasonable cost, in other words, they are the best bang for your buck!

The innovative shapes of Symetry(TM) pavers allow endless pattern configurations. This potpourri of patterns enables the designer to signature his project with a most unique and formal appearance.

3. What type of applications do you specify pavestones for? Why?

Thurmond: I specify pavestones on 90 percent of my job including drives, pool decks, paths and patios. Pavers allow for the ability to create something interesting from patterns on the ground to color changes. This product, unlike others, has a tremendous period of durability.

Ryan: There are many applications ranging from pedestrian surfaces, vehicular surfaces to those that combine these with a storm water management water quality program.

Schneider: Pavestones are great in areas with high plasticity index (expansion/contraction) soils.

Smith: Besides using pavers where an accent or focal point is needed, I like to use pavers where they can link pedestrian areas across a vehicular drive. The ability of pavers to structurally handle the load of vehicles gives import to the pedestrian users and warns drivers of the presence of pedestrians.

Roach: I specify pavestones from everything from private residences to municipal projects, parks, streestscapes and apartment complexes.

4. What trend(s) using interlocking concrete pavestones do you see?

Thurmond: In Florida, I see pavers being used in developments as the only alternative for homeowners to use for drives, patios, pools, etc. The reason is that many architect review boards recognize the pavers' quality and aesthetics as well as reducing the water runoff within the development.

Roach: The general public is becoming more amenity-oriented and design savvy. Pavestones are a way to enhance any project, and the client and end users are expecting that!

Thomas: The desire for pervious pavers that can be overplanted with grass, and that are accepted by many municipal fire departments.

Dunn: Multi-shape sizes palletized together as well as distressed features and products which simulate a natural stone appearance.

Ryan: Those related to the green design, especially permeable pavements.

Permeable pavestones, available in colors, offer aesthetic designs, while controlling stormwater run-off.

5. What experiences have you had where concrete pavers accelerated the project time completion?

Roach: Pavers can accelerate the project time completion due to the lack of wait time. There is no curing or secondary process to wait for; once they are laid, the job is done.

6. How do permeable pavestones impact stormwater runoff? What are the benefits of using the permeable pavestones over traditional paving materials such as asphalt and reinforced concrete?

Ryan: Run-off reduction and run-off cleanup. They act/perform more like grassed-in lawns in terms of surface run-off, but allow for a stable pavement surface. Also, depending on the pavement section, they can be used to store and subsequently allow storm water to infiltrate back into the ground. Through this process there are varying levels of water treatment, which has been shown to occur.

Roach: Any permeable surface will reduce the total storm run-off amount. This is becoming more and more important as municipalities are requiring on-site retention of storm run-off. Permeable interlocking paving stones are a great way to aid in reducing storm water run-off.

Smith: If permeable pavers are installed over a porous base they infiltrate water to reduce runoff. They also allow air to reach the roots of trees that might be adjacent to the pavement.

This driveway is done in City Stone,(TM) which has traditional chamfered edging and a classical standard finish. It can be used alone or in combined modules of symmetrical squares and rectangular shapes to create extraordinary patterns and endless designs.

7. What are the ecological benefits of using interlocking concrete pavestones?

Dunn: Low heat conductivity of area.

Ryan: In addition to the water quantity and quality benefits, it is the impact the local manufacturing process has on materials used in the products. They also reduce the urban heat-island effect through light colored/high albedo pavers.

Roach: The more water held on site will recharge the water table in the project area and reduce the need for additional domestic irrigation water. This is a good thing.

8. Describe the most innovative or interesting project where you specified concrete pavestones.

Smith: Pantego Bible Church in Arlington, Texas was interesting from an aesthetic standpoint. The design was a "random" pattern, four pavestone rectangular and square shapes in six different colors. It was designed to add a lot of textural interest in a long pedestrian walkway and complemented the random ashlar sandstone on the exterior of the building. A circular plaza was also designed using the same variety of pavers and colors in a series of concentric circles. Engraved "donor" stones were incorporated into this circular plaza.

Ryan: Coolidge Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The use of pavers in vivid colors defines separate functional spaces with a consistent theme. Various combinations of shapes and patterns, custom colors create a series of overlapping circles of various sizes, playfully symbolizing hot air balloons. Intricate, inlaid multi-colored star shaped patterns add to the festive atmosphere. The pavers allowed the design to be realized and provide the owner with a product of long-term durability, low maintenance, andconstructed at a competitive cost.

According to the panelists, interlocking pavestones have excellent durability, ease of future maintenance, and provide an enhanced feel that other paving materials can't match with a single-step process.

9. How would you describe the life cycle cost and overall cost-effectiveness of interlocking concrete pavestones compared to other paving materials?

Dunn: The freeze-thaw adaptability of concrete block paving makes it very attractive when value engineering is introduced to a project budget.

Roach: Any additional up-front costs associated with concrete pavers can be captured with time. Subsurface improvements can be made without replacing the surface material. Also, if soils fail there's no cracking. Simply remove the pavers, recompact and replace the paving stones.

Smith: With minimum maintenance, pavers maintain their appearance. If some settling occurs, or if excavations are needed after installation, it is easy to repair.

10. What do you consider the greatest strength of interlocking concrete pavestones?

Thomas: Customization, consistency, cost.

Ryan: Flexibility, aesthetic, function and longevity.

Roach: I like having the ability to create a particular feel with a stone style. Large tumbled stones evoke a more casual feeling than the crisp edges of a mission style paver. Color, shape and pattern really can aid in setting the tone of the project.

Smith: Color, patterns, carrying capacity and cost are the factors that enter into our selection of pavers.

Schneider: Cost-effectiveness, texture, color and scale. You can make repairs and relay the pavers without a scar.

The panel includes:

  • Scott Dunn, CSLA, BCSLA, landscape architect
    EDAW, Inv.
    Montclair, New Jersey
  • William Roach, Jr., ASLA, associate landscape architect
    The HLA Group, Landscape Architects and Planners
    Winters, California
  • Robert Ryan, principal
    Hughes, Good, O’Leary & Ryan
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • Pat Schneider, ASLA, principal
    JEK, Inc.
    Boerne, Texas
  • Paul C. Smith, ASLA, director of landscape architecture
    Austin, Texas
  • Neil Thomas, senior associate
    TBG Partners
    Dallas, Texas
  • Craig A. Thurmond, president/planner
    CRT Planning and Design
    Panama City, Florida

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June 15, 2019, 10:22 pm PDT

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