2007 Project of the Year: Reader's Choice Honorable Mention

Project: MARSA Inc. Office Building & Warehouse
Owner/Masonry Contractor: MARSA, Inc.
Architect: RSH Architects
General Contractor: Crossgates, Inc.
Masonry Suppliers: Redland Brick; R.I. Lampus; Raduzc Stone Corp; Dayton Superior Corp.; Owens Corning; Southside Precast Products.

RSH Architects was retained to design a new office and warehouse corporate headquarters for MARSA, Inc. to be located in Castle Shannon. In discussions with the owner, it was decided that the building should incorporate contemporary castle-like elements with a strong masonry format in its design. Accordingly, clearly articulated arches spring from sandstone plinths to support various building elements. The sandstone base is laid in random lengths from 8- to 36-in. long and provides a unifying base from which the buildings grow. The brick used throughout the building is handmade engineered brick, which is a bit taller and rougher than normal commercial brick, and contributes to the textural appearance of the facade.

The use of masonry continues throughout the buildings as an exposed design element, forming the walls, parapets, and the upper limits of the structure, terminating the building enclosure. The sandstone plinth base extends around the building to various grade levels, confirming the articulation in the building's design. Arched openings are formed utilizing wood lintels for interior openings and wood beams to support the roof. Another interior element is polished granite, which extends the masonry finishes to horizontal surfaces such as window sills and countertops. The peaks of the building's parapets, as used, reinforce the raised elements of the design and showcase the versatility of the selected building materials. The building's arched entrance underlines the extent of the articulation allowed by the masonry materials and the attention to detail in the building elements.

The location selected for MARSA, Inc.'s development is at the upper portions of the site grade, providing prominence to its placement. The location also provides visible guidelines for others who will build on the site, assuring the quality of future development. Additionally, the materials used demonstrate the characteristics of masonry, and the range of options available with its use.