More Than a Final Resting Place: Natural Stone Use at the Boch Garden Pavilion

by | Apr 5, 2021 | Inspire

An earlier version of this article appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of Building Stone Magazine.

The palatial estate of Eric Boch Jr. has been over a decade in the making. Boch’s home in Norwood, MA exudes elegance and refinement. The property’s most recent addition is an elaborate but tasteful natural stone chapel and mausoleum designed by Eric Inman Daum, AIA.

Forming the structure of the memorial pavilion are walls of ashlar Charcoal Black granite that was quarried by Coldspring in St. Cloud, MN. 9,600 square feet was supplied. The thickness of the granite veneer for the exterior walls ranges from 6 to 8 inches, while the interior wall veneer is 6 inches thick.

“Our first impulse was to use Quincy granite, but it is no longer available,” explained Daum. “We wanted to make an association to that.” The architect explained that Quincy granite was a common building material in 19th century New England, which leant a somber air to its buildings. Charcoal Black was recommended by Kenneth Castellucci & Associates, Inc, the stone installer for the project, because it possesses similar characteristics. “It was a universal decision across the board,” said Daum. “I’ve worked with them before and was delighted to again.”

Daum collaborated closely on the project with landscape architect Brian Frazier of Brian Frazier Design. The landscape design plays an essential role in bringing attention to the mausoleum and features architectural elements, including garden piers and walkways, as well as the paving on the porch, cut from Charcoal Black granite. “We wanted to draw people through and around the grounds,” explained Frazier. “There are two main axis—one from the main gate and the second from a farther corner near the pool. The original estate had a sunken lawn, which was removed at some point during the 70s or 80s when the property was subdivided and they built homes. I wanted to bring that element back. Placing it on the site in the mausoleum space made the most sense. There is a large curved granite seat wall. It sits in the middle of the space and has a vantage point of the entire site. It’s a quiet spot to sit and reflect.”

 

The Design

The Boch chapel and mausoleum is influenced by the Neoclassical movements of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The pavilion combines Greek and Roman motifs in the austere Neoclassical style of the Greek Revival period.

The primary space of the pavilion is a cube, surmounted by a hemispherical dome. Four wings project from the four faces of the cube to the cardinal points of the compass, which includes entry to the north, transepts to the east and west, and apse to the south. The north porch features four massive Greek Doric columns that are unfluted, except for a small portion below the capitals. The four visible corners of the cube are rusticated, and the deep horizontal joints create strong horizontal shadows emphasizing the mass and weight of the stone walls and the dome above.

“The client initially wanted the building to feel dank and oppressive,” said Daum. “We considered doing it as a load-bearing stone building. In the end, with consultation, the team decided to build a concrete box and dome and suspend the granite interior and exterior from that.”

Daum conceived and developed the building’s design. “Castellucci took the drawings and was the intermediary between me and Coldspring to get the details how I wanted,” he said. “Both Castellucci and Coldspring understood pretty quickly what was necessary. The client representative, interior designer, and I flew out to Coldspring where they pulled large slabs out that were reviewed and gave a range in terms of the grading, size, and quantity.”

The austere exterior gives way to a more luxurious colorful interior, with varied jewellike shades. “Working with the interior designer, he kept saying we need to push the design,” said Daum. “Looking at a broader range of Neoclassical architecture, I found an example of a reclaimed floor. I basically took that design and blew it up to the scale of this room. Having historical precedent was very important to me.”

 

Influences

One of the most prominent influences for the memorial pavilion was the Württemberg Mausoleum or sepulchral chapel located outside of Stuttgart, Germany, which was designed by Italian architect Giovanni Salucci. A second inspiration was the mausoleum designed by Scottish architect Robert Adam for the First Earl of Shelburne at his estate, Bowood in Wiltshire, England.

The floor features seven types of Italian and Spanish marble: Bianco Carrara Statuario, Fior De Pesco, Salome, Giallo Siena, Breccia Pernice, Rojo Alicante, and Portoro Black & Gold. The pattern was inspired by a design in Schnikel’s Glienicke Casino in Posdam, Germany.

“I showed Castellucci the casino photo and asked them to suggest a range of colors,” said the architect. “They provided 10 to 11 samples. The project team sat in a meeting and made choices together. That was a fun part of the process.”

The intricate marble floor pattern is complemented by six fluted columns carved from dark green Verde Alpi marble with dramatic veining. The columns have a diameter of 1 foot, 10 inches and are 10 feet, 6 inches high. They are composted in five stacked segments.

Beneath the sanctuary is the crypt, which can be reached by a Charcoal Black granite staircase positioned at the south of the building. “Originally, we were going to put the vaults in the floor, but the client decided that he wanted to use the building,” explained Daum. “The interior designer had worked with him for years, so he pushed the client. He told him that it could be used for dinner parties and intimate events, and that he should think about building a basement.”

The project was completed in five years from initial conceptual design to final construction. “It was put on hold for a little bit and then we came back to it. The foundation was poured in December 2016 and it was completed in October 2018. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Daum said. “The client’s team was tough and it was an incredibly aggressive schedule in regards to the production of the drawings. It was a tense and difficult project at times but having a superb contractor and stone contractor who all rose to the occasion, and Coldspring, too, made it a success.”

The Boch Garden Pavilion was the recipient of both a 2019 Pinnacle Award and a 2020 Tucker Design Award.

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