Nestled on a six-acre site, the Latterday Saints Temple in Newport Beach, Calif., imparts an aura of harmony. This serene image belies the flurry of activity that took place on three continents to complete the project on schedule. The design, bidding, testing, engineering, stone fabrication, and installation stages all overlapped.

Design concept

Mormon temples typically are clad in white or light gray stone, but the city of Newport Beach required that the building blend with its environment. Thus, the project was designed in rose hues and a style that reflects the area's Spanish-influenced architecture. The temple is clad in Salisbury Pink granite, quarried in North Carolina and fabricated in Italy and China. The site work and paving are Royal Peach and Royal Rose granite from northern China.

Stonework details include enormous half spheres, triple-arched canopy, sandblasted star embellishments, and arched window surrounds. A leaf-patterned frieze is accented at the corners with 56 sun-inspired medallions in two sizes. The sun detail was sandblasted and the honed finish completed by hand. The stones forming the base of the building and the archways are polished, the flat veneer is flamed, and the frieze, medallion stones, and window surrounds are honed. The paving, installed in an ashlar pattern, features a flamed finish.

Architects Lloyd E. Platt and Associates designed the intricate patterns and cladding contractor KEPCO+ helped develop the details. To execute the frieze, for example, “We modeled the leaves in plaster, the architects reviewed the mockup, and then they were cut in stone,” explained Jeremy Simmonds, project manager and engineer with KEPCO+.

Fast-track schedule

The Salisbury Pink granite was chosen not only to complement the native soil but because it was immediately available, a significant advantage in this tightly scheduled project. Stone fabricator Campolonghi Italia had some matching stock from a previous project, which saved time in procuring and shipping the stone and enabled fabrication to start sooner. Also, KEPCO+ was familiar with the stone's structural capabilities and ASTM test data. Simmonds was able to use existing data to design the stone attachment system while confirmatory testing was conducted.

KEPCO+ decided to use two fabricators to keep the budget and schedule on track. Campolonghi fabricated 18,000 square feet of flamed exterior veneer, in pieces typically 2 ft 6 in. x 1 ft 3 in. x 1 3/16 in. Bestview International's China facility fabricated 31,000 square feet of stonework, including the hand-tooled and sand-blasted cubic building details and all of the site work and paving.

Some of the stonework was still being engineered when the granite was shipped to the fabricators. As shop drawings were completed, KEPCO+ electronically submitted an architect-approved ticket for each stone piece to the Bestview facility, where fabrication would begin within three days of receiving the documentation. To make sure the pieces would fit correctly, the fabricators dry-set each piece and made any necessary adjustments prior to shipping.

The tight schedule required fabrication and installation to be performed concurrently. Fabrication began in March 2004 and installation started the following month. Fabrication took nearly 10 months. One of the most time-consuming elements was the 695 lineal feet of hand-carved frieze. Each 4-ft length of the frieze took approximately one week to complete.

Hand-set installation

The stonework was fabricated in a predetermined sequence so completed portions could be shipped directly to the jobsite. “The containers were opened the day they arrived from Italy and China and we started installing the stone immediately,” said Simmonds.

The KEPCO+ field crew of 30 workers hand-set 29,209 square feet of exterior cladding, jointed with a silicone weatherproofing sealant. The stainless steel anchoring system combines kerf and split-tail anchors and was engineered to meet California's stringent Zone 4 seismic requirements. “Every piece was designed to withstand an earthquake, and 1400 pounds takes a lot of restraint,” said Simmonds, referring to the project's heaviest pieces – the four half spheres at the corners of the spire base, which were set using a 50-ton crane.

The $2.5 million stone project used 13,293 pieces of granite, including 20,476 square feet of site work and paving. Installation took about one year.

The project received a 2005 Marble Institute of America Pinnacle Award for excellence in natural stone design and installation.

Project Participants
Stone Cladding Contractor: KEPCO+, Salt Lake City, Utah
Architect: Lloyd E. Platt and Associates, Holladay, Utah
General Contractor: Jacobsen Construction, Salt Lake City, Utah
Stone Fabricators: Bestview International, Wood Dale, Ill./ Fuzhou, China; Campolonghi Italia, Massa, Italy
Supplier: Rock of Ages Corp., Barre, Vt. (quarry in Salisbury, N.C.)