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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
     Monthly Newsletter
June 2009
In This Issue


Topic of the Month:
Designing Outdoor Living Spaces

Design Company of the Month: Topaz Design Group

Helpful Links for Architects

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Devonian Stone SoCal patio Welcome to the June issue of our newsletter, which we hope you will enjoy! We are always interested to hear about architects and their projects, so if you have something you would like to share, please contact us and tell us about it. Your project could be featured in one of our upcoming issues, which goes out to architects and building industry professionals across the country. And who are we? Our company mines and manufactures Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products. The stone has a consistent pale blue-gray hue that has been used in residential, institutional and commercial projects across the country. Click here to find out more.

Design Company of the Month: Topaz Design Group

Topaz pool 1 Topaz Design Group was established in 1984 by Adam Myles so that he could pursue his passion for creative horticulture and enhance the beauty of nature. The company is now one of New York's most innovative landscape design/build companies, specializing in all aspects of exterior design and installation with an emphasis on quality workmanship, professionalism and meticulous attention to detail.
Projects include expertly designed and installed masonry, dramatic poolscapes and water features, inviting patios and decks, outdoor kitchens, and open-air fireplaces.
The designers at Topaz view themselves as "Exterior Decorators" taking outdoor spaces and making them functional, beautiful, and enduringly pleasurable. Their exciting new approaches to traditional landscaping challenges result in outdoor living spaces clients can cherish forever.

Fore more information:

Topic of the Month: Designing Outdoor Living Spaces
Topaz pool 2
Summer is the time of year when the warm, inviting weather beckons people outdoors to enjoy the comforts of the season by spending time in the sun, in the water, or at a barbecue with family and friends. A thoughtfully designed landscape with lush plantings, a pool, a waterfall and an outdoor kitchen make it possible to practically live outdoors in a dreamlike setting, and Topaz Design Group can help create this kind of paradise in your own backyard.

Topaz's founder Adam Myles's interest in landscape design was sparked when he worked for a Long Island nursery as a teenager. His desire to layer colors and textures in exotic softscape plantings, and to use a wide variety of hardscape materials in complementary ways evolved into a passion to create beautiful outdoor living spaces. He adds, "After a few seasons working at the nursery, I started to do some installations myself, and then I left after about two years and went on my own." Since then, Myles has become one of New York's most influential landscape designers.

When asked about his design style, Myles explains, "I like freeform and more of a natural look. Every now and then, we get people who want something more formal, which we can do, but it just seems that through the years as the company has grown, the people who are looking to our work are looking for a specific style. At that point we want to see what their needs are, how much space we have to work with, and then we design something for them. We work with anything outside the house in the way of landscape, masonry, plantings and carpentry. We build pergolas and pavilions. When it comes to outdoor living, we can do just about anything."

Using various types of stone is an integral part of the design process at Topaz, and each material is meticulously chosen for every project to invoke a sense of aesthetic harmony between home and property. "On the patios we use a lot of bluestone from New York and Pennsylvania. Some people prefer natural cleft which has more texture, whereas other people like thermal which is much smoother on the surface. In our waterfalls, we use a lot of moss rock and natural boulders as opposed to anything that's cut in a quarry, since they appear to come right out of the forest and that seems to work well with our style of design. We also use travertine and crab orchard stone. There is such a wide range of colors to use. We probably do fifty-fifty between the cooler colors and the warmer ones. We'll use a lot of lot of bluestone, but travertine is a big thing right now because people like the honey colors, the off-whites and the beiges. We probably do the most work with concrete pavers; out of ten jobs, probably seven will use concrete pavers, the other three use stone."

"We just finished a few projects in the last week or so. One project was a complete backyard exterior with a built-in swimming pool, patio, water feature, a complete landscape. That's really our staple job, we love to go in and do an entire rear yard or an entire property on a residence. Another project we just did was a sunken driveway with retaining walls to each side and walkways leading to the back of the residence with a patio, retaining walls, sitting walls, a water feature and landscape. So rather than just doing a patio or a set of steps, we like to get involved with a project where we're doing everything from the hardscape to the softscape."

As the company has expanded, Myles has cultivated a select team of professionals that has worked together for decades. "We have various crews, we have actual carpenters on staff, masons and planting crews. I handle all the appointments, I do all the designs and oversee all the outside operations of the company. Then I have foremen who handle different aspects of the job, who do masonry or who are in charge of planting. I actually go and handpick all the shrubbery myself. Right now anything in ornamental grasses is popular, flowering perennials, things like that are very popular. I don't like to just call a nursery and give them a list. It's not the way we operate."

"Right now, even with the economy slowing, we're doing quite a bit of complete home living areas in backyards, whether it's a large patio, maybe a pond or water feature and outdoor livingrooms and kitchens, fire pits, fireplaces. It seems as if people are going to try to conserve and not go away on vacation, they are still spending money on renovating their backyards and staying home and enjoying themselves."

"We do a lot of outdoor kitchen units. In a standard ten or twelve-foot unit, there will be a grill, refrigerator, trash bin and storage compartments with drawers. In most cases we use granite on the top. There are some people who want bluestone or another type of stone. Some people will have a standard unit done, or others have it extend into another section where there will be a service bar with a countertop so you can have storage on the inside and then people can sit on the opposite side. Whenever we have situations like that, we have a licensed electrician come in who designs all the lighting and installs electric in different areas. When we do our stone work, we generally work on top of poured concrete with wire mesh reinforcement and then just add some sand for leveling purposes. We do everything on poured concrete so it's never going to move."

When asked about his favorite thing about being a landscape designer, Myles replies, "When you have a customer who really puts their faith in you and lets you make their home beautiful, and the end result is that they're happy, that's very nice."

Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community
The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit:

AIA's "Navigating the Economy" Website

The AIA has created a website called Navigating the Economy which offers helpful links to articles and resources for architects during these challenging economic times. Some of the resources listed include: Available Project Listings, Design Opportunities for the Federal Government, a Speaker's Registry, various podcasts and webcasts regarding the state of the economy, Tax Breaks for architects, and numerous articles with suggestions on how to not only survive, but build your business during an economic downturn. Please visit:

American Society of Landscape Architects
Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the national professional association representing   landscape architects. Beginning with 11 original members, ASLA has grown to more than 18,000 members and 48 chapters, representing all 50 states, U.S. territories, and 68 countries around the world. ASLA promotes the landscape architecture profession and advances the practice through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship. Visit:

Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit:


ArchitectTV offers video news and industry insights into market intelligence, business and technology solutions, and more for industry professionals looking to get the latest information from the experts at Architect magazine and Hanley Wood. View the latest videos from ArchitectTV by clicking here:

Architectural Record Continuing Education Center
Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit:

Architects: Questions About Stone Applications?

In our effort to create a newsletter that is of interest to you - architects, designers and other building industry professionals - we would like to know if you have any questions regarding any stone-related topics. If so, please contact us and we will be happy to provide you with the answer in one of our newsletters.

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.

Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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