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Concrete Pavers: A Five Tool Skill for Basic Design Considerations



By Gregory A. Kirkman, Commercial Sales Manager Pavestone Company, Lee's Summit, Missouri






Large open areas can be broken down into more visual appealing sections using soldier or sailor courses to break up large areas of paving. The use of colors, textures and patterns can make stunning visual changes in an otherwise bland area of concrete or asphalt. Photos courtesy of Pavestone


Baseball scouts and general managers are always on the lookout for players who possess what is commonly referred to as the five tool skills. These are the ability to run, to throw, to play defense and to hit--all for both average and power. It is rare to find athletes with such a unique combination of talent and dexterity.

Players that possess the five tool skills, like Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujlos, are sure to ascend to baseball stardom and have long and productive careers

Likewise, there is a landscape product that can help ensure a long and productive lifetime for any design--the concrete paver. With its five tool skills--flexibility, aesthetics, structural capacity, durability and safety--it is the ideal product to incorporate into any landscape. Concrete pavers can fill multiple roles in an economical, yet flexible manner. More and more, designers are turning to these workhorses to add color, texture and pattern to their landscapes while meeting safety needs and structural issues.






Pavers give us the ability to use changes in color, texture and pattern as warning or delineation features of a project. One of the most recognizable places where pavers serve in this capacity is their function as ADA warning devices. Using a truncated dome and contrasting colors, pavers are placed in areas where sidewalks and streets meet as a way of letting people with visual handicaps know that they are making a transition from a pedestrian area to one where they may encounter vehicular traffic.


Flexibility

Designers are always on the lookout for ways to brighten up their designs and to set them apart from the rest. One of the most obvious places to accomplish this is in large open areas of a project. Where traditionally designers would simply use concrete or asphalt applications for pedestrian and vehicular areas, they are now turning to pavers. Why? Because of a tremendous flexibility with colors and textures as well as pattern capabilities this product provides.

Aesthetics

Vibrant colors and different textures as well as changing up the laying pattern, can add a unique look to common areas, crosswalks and even streets. A large open area with a large amount of concrete or asphalt can be overwhelming to the eye. By using pavers, it can be broken up into different sections or patterns, thus shrinking the scale down to a more manageable area.

One example is the RiverWalk Crossing project in Jenks, Okla. This large retail, business development on the Arkansas River has some 60 shops and restaurants as well as many offices and entertainment venues. Originally the design called for concrete or asphalt in the common areas.

The owner, Jerry Gordon and the design professional Mike Peters from Alabeck Design Associates, wanted to do more with this space than just move people from place to place. They incorporated several different blended, colored pavers into the design and also used multiple shapes and patterns to break up over 100,000 square feet into much more comfortable areas yielding a peaceful and quaint feeling. The colors and patterns accented the building architecture and landscape design and tied the entire project together. It accomplished their goal of adding a visual concept to the project while still serving the need for a paved surface for customers to move on from store to store.

To further add visual appeal, the outside areas of the project are spiced up with benches, fireplaces and water features. These are all set off by different colors and patterns finished in pavers, making the courtyard as popular of a meeting spot as any of the businesses located in the complex. It has truly become a place to meet and be seen for the citizens of Tulsa.






Not only can concrete pavers handle enormous loads and consistent traffic for everything from light cars to vehicles that impart point loads in excess of 100,000 pounds per wheel, but by featuring a differing paver pattern, the designer can influence traffic patterns.


Structural Capacity

The second part of the paver five tool skills is the ability to fulfill structural needs of a design that have previously only been utilized by traditional concrete and asphalt. Based on the type of laying pattern and thickness of the pavers used, concrete pavers can handle enormous loads and consistent traffic from everything from light cars to vehicles that impart point loads in excess of 100,000 pounds per wheel.

More and more cities are using concrete pavers for city streets and crosswalks to accent downtown areas and to brighten up locations that were once fairly dull and uninteresting when constructed with concrete and or asphalt. In addition, this design concept is being used in commercial and residential developments to help set these projects apart from more traditional paving uses. Again, the ability to handle the structural component of the design while giving the architect ways to interject color and pattern into the project really changes the way a finished product is viewed by the customers.

Durability

As stated earlier, by incorporating a herringbone laying pattern and a thicker paver into a design, the base detail will be considerably different from that of a pedestrian application. Typically, the design for a road structure will be done by a civil or structural engineer to ensure the finished product will be able to withstand the required load requirements. Another important benefit of using concrete paving systems in a structural application is that pavers have proven to be more durable and require less maintenance than traditional asphalt and concrete paving.

Safety

The final component of the five tool skills for pavers is the ability to use changes in color, texture and pattern as warning or delineation features of a project. One of the most recognizable places where pavers serve in this capacity is their function as ADA warning devices. This basic design principal can also be used where pedestrians and vehicles travel over the same areas. By incorporating pavers with different colors or textures, it is possible to identify areas where vehicular traffic might occur and warn people to be aware of traffic while still using the area as a means to move from one location to another.

Another great way pavers be used is to include different patterns and colors to mark transitional areas where there is a change in elevation such as a step down or slope. This can be very helpful in ensuring that customers or pedestrians can move about an area with a sense of comfort and safety.

Many times, designers can use pavers as marking lines or architectural waypoints to direct a customer or pedestrian to a particular point of interest or an entrance or exit for easy access to the area. Defining these areas with pavers gives them a very unique look and feel while still accomplishing the same goal as traditional paint lines or signage. This further helps in setting the project apart from what a consumer typically sees at most of the places they visit.

As you can see concrete pavers are incredibly versatile and functional tool when using them in your overall landscape design. They give a designer unbelievable flexibility to vary from the norm while still accomplishing all the basic design criteria needed for the project. Concrete pavers are a true five tool skilled product that can fit into any design and make it better. Like the baseball coach who has a five skill player on his team, landscape design professionals should take full advantage of the unique capabilities and flexibility of the concrete paver. Use them in as many ways as possible to ensure your projects always have a dramatic and individual feel.






A great way pavers can be used is to include different patterns and colors to mark transitional areas where there is a change in elevation such as a step down or slope. This can be very helpful in ensuring that customers or pedestrians move about an area with a sense of comfort and safety.


Building Blocks

3.125: Inches, the minimum recommended thickness of pavers on projects that feature regular, repeat vehicle traffic.

2.375: Inches, a good thickness for pavers that are installed in areas that feature heavy pedestrian traffic and residential driveways.

8: Hours, the typical time it would take one person to install 300 square feet of pavers.

Source: Iowa State University Department of Horticulture




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November 19, 2019, 10:47 pm PDT

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