Established in 1850, The
Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston encompasses the entire state of West
Virginia, a state with a population of approximately 1.8 million and 116,000
Catholics. In 2011, the diocese initiated a major reorganization project for
the campus of St. Joseph Cathedral, where the diocese had outgrown its existing
1950s-era chancery which houses the diocese’s administrative offices.
Located in Wheeling, W.
Va., the existing campus included numerous buildings serving the area’s
Catholic community: St. Joseph Cathedral, a chancery, rectory and archives, as
well as a high school and elementary school. Plans for the reorganization
included closing the existing elementary school due to low enrollment and
renovating the building into a new chancery.
What’s more, the design
involved the construction of a central courtyard and a garden dedicated to the
Virgin Mary, creating public spaces to stand the test of time for the
community’s enjoyment. A new fountain in the courtyard would add the elements
of movement and sound for an inviting yet serene gathering area.
Finishes Create Variety
In 2011, the diocese closed the elementary
school, and renovations for the new chancery and public space commenced. An
existing courtyard of concrete unit pavers and wall systems was removed, and
new paving in Mesabi Black® granite from Coldspring was installed. Granite
was selected not only for its beauty and durability but also for its
“We used the same
Mesabi Black® granite for many elements in this project – from fountains and
pools to paving and steps,” says Michael Stern, Principal, Strada Architecture,
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Mesabi Black is known for its medium black and
gray hues, which are more or less pronounced depending on the finish selected.
In total, the project included approximately
6,000 square feet of Mesabi Black in three finishes: Diamond 100®, Diamond 10®
and Diamond 8®. The Diamond series offers subtle variations in color, tone and
texture. For pavers and stair treads, Diamond 100 was selected because its
rough-hewn texture provides an ideal, slip-resistant surface for pedestrian
areas, as well as it’s sparkling effect in sunlight.
Mesabi Black in a Diamond 8 finish
produces a slightly darker shade than Diamond 100 and with less texture. It was
selected for cubic benches in the Marian garden area, the fountain’s paving and
coping,and the main
fountain feature. Diamond 8 also provided the ideal finish for a pedestal for a
statue of the Virgin Mary, which stands peacefully in the Mary Garden outside
the archives building.
produces the lightest shade of the three finishes selected and was selected for
the pedestal of the St. Joseph statue located in the plaza, as well as the blockstone
paving around the tree bosque.
“By varying the finishes, we created different
looks with the same stone.”
Diamond 8 is a hone finish
that highlights the stone’s crystal structure while deepening its background
hues. Diamond 10 highlights the stone’s reflective crystals, enhancing and
contrasting with the depth of the darker colors. Diamond 100 is a semi-rough surface,
and its finish is textured to reveal vibrant colors in a deep, rich background.
Using a variety of finishes with one stone allowed the fabricator to maximize
usage while providing the variety the design team desired.
The base of
the existing rectory adjacent to St. Joseph Cathedral is sandstone, which was
also selected for key design elements on the chancery’s new wing. In addition
to sandstone, other natural stones are present at the site, such as limestone on
the existing St. Joseph Cathedral.
variety of natural stones at the site, the use of granite for all walkway areas
creates a uniform contrast on the ground plane,” says Stern. “Granite was the
unifying material at the site – tying together all the other materials.”
Computer-aided design (CAD) was
essential for the fabrication of two pieces of stone in particular: the fountain’s base and bowl. Coldspring
provided design and detailing assistance when needed for the more complex
pieces. Engineering support from Coldspring was essential to the project’s
success, as well as a supportive relationship among all team members.
was very engaged in working with us as the designers,” says Stern. “They were
able to take our design drawings and implement them with precision. The pieces
they fabricated were really well-executed.”
“Finding someone who is up to the task of the
installation and who really understands the products and materials for the
project is critical,” says Stern.
2014, the project for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has created an
updated, modern campus that better fits the diocese’s needs. “I think the diocese
is very happy with the way the project turned out,” said Stern. “It’s resulted
in a whole new public space for the campus. We were able to open up an area to
be enjoyed by the Catholic community and the people of Wheeling.”