Top 10 project highlights in stone

Image of Adelaide Festival Square showing geometric artwork shade structure and tiled flooring surface.

Stone Initiatives is celebrating 20 years of expert testing, analysis and guidance on the use of dimension stone. Our team looks back at 10 project highlights over the past two decades, from advising on significant new architectural projects, to helping to preserve some of Australia’s precious heritage-listed structures.

126 Phillip Street, Deutsche Bank Place

Sydney, New South Wales

Stone Initiatives was the stone consultant for 126 Phillip Street, now called Deutsche Bank Place. We were engaged by LendLease to perform stone testing to prove fitness for purpose of the stone finish, along with a creating a program to control the quality of the stone supplied. Part of the project included review of the stone selection and the granite blocks prior to processing, and also a review of the capability of the quarry to supply the stone.

“This was significant as Stone Initiatives’ first job. One of the exciting things about the project was the bold use of the same stone and finish throughout the plaza, running through into the ground-floor lobby. The project features Austral Juparana Granite from Bruce Rock in Western Australia, with a flamed exfoliated finish. I remember talking to the architect about their vision and why they chose that stone, and they said it reminded them of flying over the golden wheat fields of WA.” – Jim Mann, Principal.

Newman College conservation works

Parkville, Victoria

Stone Initiatives the stone consultant for conservation works on Melbourne’s National Heritage-listed Newman College building, originally designed by world renowned architect Walter Burley Griffin. We were engaged to evaluate the stone type used within Newman College, and to assist in identifying a replacement stone type that was suitable in composition, colour and texture. Stone Initiatives performed an extensive test program on the historical extant stone, which was no longer quarried. A range of possible replacement stone types were tested to determine compatibility. The evaluation included quarry inspections and development of a quality control specification to ensure the supplied stone was acceptable for the project.

“This project required intensive, in-depth testing to understand the properties of the extant stone. The challenge was to identify a suitable replacement stone type that matched the existing colour and texture, but had superior durability, and would also blend with the building over time. It is always rewarding contributing to the conservation of heritage structures, and working on this outstanding example of Walter Burley Griffin’s distinctive sculptural style was a privilege.” – Jim Mann, Principal.

Sydney Opera House forecourt

Sydney, New South Wales

As part of the Sydney Opera House Paving Project, Sydney Opera House Trust engaged Stone Initiatives to evaluate the proposed stone quarry’s ability to supply stone of suitable colour and quality to the project. Our involvement extended to quality control of the selected granite blocks and finished flamed slabs to ensure the material was within the acceptable project colour range. 

“The forecourt of the World Heritage-listed Sydney Opera House is one of the city’s most iconic venues. This project was significant as our involvement extended from the stone ‘in the ground’ all the way to the finished product. The use of two types of South Australian granites (Sienna and Calca) at a UNESCO World Heritage site was special, and it made the project feel close to home for our Adelaide-based team.” – Jim Mann, Principal.

Barangaroo Towers

Sydney, New South Wales

Stone Initiatives was engaged to evaluate the tiling and paving finishes at Barangaroo Towers for fitness of use, including slip resistance testing and stain resistance testing.

Wynyard Walk

Sydney, New South Wales

Stone Initiatives was engaged to evaluate the stone paving finishes at Wynyard Walk for fitness for use, including slip resistance testing and stain resistance testing. The fully accessible, award-winning pedestrian link between Wynyard Station and the Barangaroo waterfront was designed by architecture practice Woods Bagot for Transport NSW.

Smyth Memorial Chapel conservation works

Adelaide, South Australia

Stone Initiatives undertook a range of heritage and conservation-related testing and consulting as part of the restoration of Adelaide’s 1871 Smyth Memorial Chapel. We were engaged by the Adelaide Cemeteries Authority to assist in various aspects of the conservation and restoration project, which was led by Arcuate Architects. Stone Initiatives’ work ranged from salt damp surveys, to finding replacement stone for the repair of the eight gargoyles that adorn each corner of the chapel. 

“The octagonal Gothic-revival style chapel is a unique State heritage-listed structure within the Catholic section of the West Terrace Cemetery. A number of awards have been given to collaborators since the completion of the restoration project, including the David Saunders Award for Heritage in the 2020 SA Architecture Awards. It’s rewarding knowing that our laboratory has contributed to the conservation of such a valued piece of architecture.” – Mark Milevski, Materials Testing Specialist – Heritage Services.

Adelaide Festival Plaza transformation

Adelaide, South Australia

Stone Initiatives was engaged by Walker Riverside Developments to undertake a finishes evaluation of the locally sourced stone types used in Stage 1 of the Adelaide Festival Plaza development. Stone Initiatives also worked with various contractors throughout the project to provide slip resistance testing and other finishes evaluation services to other elements within the project.

“We are proud to have been able to provide testing and evaluation services for a variety of high-quality South Australian and Australian stone types now showcased beautifully as paving in the communal heart of Adelaide.” – Thomas Baggs, Scientific Officer – Finishes Evaluation Services.

Moonta Mines National Heritage Project

Moonta, South Australia

Stone Initiatives was engaged by Swanbury Penglase Architects and The National Trust of South Australia to undertake analysis of a range of mortars samples from Hughes Enginehouse and Richmans Enginehouse at the Moonta Mines site. The Moonta Mines National Heritage Project is a federal government-funded project that seeks to “restore, conserve and build new experiences” for the National heritage-listed precinct.

“This project offered an interesting perspective into South Australia’s copper mining history. Through our comprehensive mortar analysis, we revealed curious elements within the mortar, such as aggregates that consisted of mining by-products and even copper ore! I also had the opportunity to attend the site during restoration works of Hughes Enginehouse, to learn about and assist the stonemasons at Stone Ideas with repointing and rendering using the mixes outlined in our mortar analysis report. It was a fascinating project to be a part of.”
 Mark Milevski, Materials Testing Specialist – Heritage Services.

Ōamaru limestone analysis

New Zealand

Stone Initiatives has recently been engaged by various New Zealand-based clients to undertake physical properties testing and analysis of Ōamaru limestone from various sources, to help develop quality control parameters for the stone. Ōamaru limestone is an historically significant stone that has been used in many important buildings throughout New Zealand, including the Town Hall and the Chief Post Office in Auckland, and stone edifices on structures including St Patrick’s Basilica.

“We have tested Ōamaru limestone from various quarry floors in New Zealand, the Dunedin Town Hall, and previously the Hunter Building in Wellington, to assist with selection of stone for restoration projects and the development of quality control procedures. This is exciting work to be a part of as it gives us the opportunity to compare and analyse the difference in properties of Ōamaru stone from a variety of sources. It is also rewarding to work with stone intended for use in restoration projects.” – Will Wesley, Scientific Officer – Physical Properties Testing.

Fremantle Prison Mural conservation works

Fremantle, Western Australia

Stone Initiatives was engaged by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (WA Government) to undertake a range of heritage and conservation-related testing and consulting for the Fremantle Prison Mural Conservation project. Our role was to test and provide advice about the condition and stability of the masonry substrate on which inmate murals were painted.

“Inside the walls of the National heritage-listed Fremantle Prison, there are numerous markings left by inmates over the years, ranging from graffiti to refined murals. It was fascinating to collaborate with conservators on this project, as it gave me the opportunity to acquire knowledge about various mural preservation techniques.” – Mark Milevski, Materials Testing Specialist – Heritage Services.