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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
April 2014
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: A Water Garden in Western Massachusetts

Architectural Firm of the Month: Stephen A. Roberts, Landscape Architect

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Tiles BelAir  Welcome to the April issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us and tell us about it. We might feature your project in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter. To learn more about our "high-end" cut-to-size Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products, please click here to visit our website.
Architectural Firm of the Month: Stephen A. Roberts, Landscape Architect


At Stephen A. Roberts Landscape Architecture and Construction located in Springfield, MA, we design and construct quality landscapes, driven by a passion and love for our profession. Our passion is manifest in our plans and built projects, and it brings a level of excellence to our work that continues through a project's completion. Thus our projects evolve to become unique and beautiful places. Our construction projects incorporate quality stone and masonry products, as well as horticulturally diverse plantings, to suit both personal taste and the natural environment.


Our goal is to execute a wide range of landscape projects from start to finish, and then some. With a highly trained, educated and experienced design team, we bring dreams to reality. 


For more Information:

In 2007 the owners of a colonial home on 2.5 acres of land in West Springfield, MA were given the garden they had dreamed about for years when landscape architect Stephen A. Roberts shared his vision with the couple. The inspiration came when a new kitchen and sunroom were built.


Roberts explains, "There was a deck connecting the house to the large garage and they wanted to put a new kitchen in between the house and the garage. They were going to face the kitchen out to the other side of the yard, to the east side, but when I met with them I noticed the beautiful side yard they had and I said this would be a great place for a pond and a water feature. I showed them a concept plan and they ended up changing the floor plan based on where we were going to locate the pond and the waterfalls."


The homeowners wanted to put a gazebo in, but when Roberts showed them a photo of a Japanese tea house, they really liked it. Roberts ended up having his carpenters construct a beautiful weathered mahogany tea house based on the photograph.


Even though the garden is not a Japanese garden, the plants that are featured are Japanese holly, Japanese umbrella pine and seven species of Japanese maple trees. "We wanted to keep the planting scheme pretty simple," explains, Roberts, "so we decided early on to have the seven different varieties of Japanese maples as the key anchor plants. The yard was in a circular area surrounded by some larger mature maple trees and pine trees, with smaller Japanese maples layering down as you get closer to the house. We used some specimen evergreens as well and kept the ground covers pretty simple with juniper and ribbon grass so it was neat looking and low maintenance."


The homeowner wanted a koi pond so Roberts built a biologically filtered koi pond. Roberts explains, "Koi fish require a higher quality of water to reduce the chance of disease among the fish, so the biologically filtered pond pretty much mimics what happens in nature." The pond is purified with two supplementary ponds that are smaller than the main water feature and that serve as bog filters. The water loving plants remove pollutants like ammonia and phosphate. Pond water is transported directly to the plant roots and biologically filtered water is returned to the main pond.


The koi pond is five feet deep at its deepest point and two pumps circulate approximately 20,000 gallons of water an hour. Solar panels were installed in 2008 which help reduce the cost of running the pumps. A koi pond is a long term investment as the fish can live for an average of thirty years.


Roberts says the main challenge with creating a water feature is taking one's time. "You have to take your time. There is a lot of care taken because a rubber membrane is used to create the pond, so when you're using large boulders and construction equipment you have to be really careful not to tear the membrane. Placing the boulders is something that usually requires an artistic touch. This project took about ten months to construct, from start to finish."


"Other challenges are underground utilities. There is a lot of plumbing for this system and electrical. We had drainage issues so we had to have an elaborate drainage system put in on the property. Doing all these things and not seeing any of the manmade utilities is always a challenge. The pumps, the filters, the electrical boxes, the lights - all of those things are kind of hidden so that all you see is the water and the plants."


Roberts still maintains the garden for his clients, which is one of the rewards of doing this kind of work. He explains, "My staff and I go there a few times a year to help maintain the garden and the plants. It's always a pleasure to see the fish swimming and the plants maturing. That's one of the joys of doing these types of projects and staying in touch with them. I get a lot of satisfaction from that." 


Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) 

The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:  

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: 


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: 


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:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture 

CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. 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: 


The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

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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