Carving a Niche
The Courtyard Marriott in Oneonta, NY now sits nestled into a hillside overlooking the city. But not long ago the site looked very different. The lot was considered by many to be unbuildable land which suited the city’s planning commission just fine. But thanks to a persistent owner, a cooperative city council and an innovative retaining wall system the hill is now home to a beautiful new hotel.
With a constant slope rising more than 60 feet the lot required serious excavation to become usable. However, engineering a system to retain that earth was only part of the challenge. “The planning commission didn’t want to approve the project”, said Tim Mahoney of American Concrete Casting. “They felt that carving into the hillside would scar the landscape.” And with such a conspicuous location, the city planers believed there was much at stake. In the end, the council approved Verti-Block because of its natural appearance.
Gabion baskets were considered but ruled out because of their harsh appearance. Other solid big block retaining wall systems were also considered but in the end, their cost and appearance couldn’t hold up against Verti-Block. With the use of geogrid, Verti-Block was able to handle the engineering forces more efficiently and even looks more natural. “We invited the owner to visit our plant in Canastota,” said Mahoney. “He fell in love with the block as soon as he saw the texture.” The building site has a great deal of nature stone. The deep nature look of Verti-Block’s Canyon Ledge texture allowed it to fit perfectly.
The Trifecta of Building Products
Tim was looking for new products for his precast plant when he too fell in love with Verti-Block’s textures. “I couldn’t get over how real it looked” said Tim. “That’s what really caught my eye.” As Tim explored the product further he discovered the design of the block’s hollow core which uses less material in production and also lowered shipping costs. “It was the trifecta of building products for us,” said Tim. “The texture was the best I’d ever seen, then, on top of that it used less concrete and had lower transportation costs. I knew we had to have it”
An Easy Installation
The excavation subcontractor originally turned down the job. “He said retaining that much with a back slope was too much liability, too hard, now way” said Tim. The owner asked Tim to meet with the excavator and show him the system. Verti-Block requires less excavation than traditional big block segmental retaining walls because it’s back filled with native soils. Crushed stone typically backfilled behind a retaining wall is filled inside Verti-Block’s open cores which not only saves time but also guarantees the proper amount for drainage. He finally agreed to do it. And after completing the job agreed it was all that Tim had explained and more. After completion he said, “I can’t believe how easy it was to install this wall. I can’t wait to install the next one. We’re definitely using Verti-Block on our next job.”
Staining for Added Value
The owner really wanted a warm natural look. It needed to not only match the hotel but also serve as a backdrop to the hotel’s patio. This area was designed as an oasis or sanctuary for hotel guests. Stone-FXTM Stain was the perfect solution. The entire project was stained in a day and a half and that included a rain delay. The base coat was Washed Suede with four accent colors: Khaki Bronze, Cocoa Brown, Dark Walnut and Charcoal. The final wall looks so nature the city council is thrilled. And with the convenience of a new hotel, so are the city’s guests.