BIM Services and Granite Supplied by Coldspring for New Judicial Center
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By: Dan Rea
"Coldspring, the leading quarrier and fabricator of natural stone and bronze
manufacturing in North America, recently provided more than 130,000 square
feet of granite for the newly constructed Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial
Center in Denver. Adjacent to the State Capitol, the 695,767-square-foot,
$258-million Judicial Center encompasses courthouses for the Colorado Court
of Appeals and Supreme Court, as well as a 12-story office building for
support functions associated with the courts.
As a building material supplier with the capacity and ability to quarry and
fabricate granite in the large-scale quantities required for the project,
Coldspring provided 107,677 square feet of Iridian® and Rockville White®
granite for the buildings and 24,138 square feet of Lake Superior Green®
granite for the hardscapes. For the project, Coldspring provided in-house
services including Building Information Modeling (BIM), consultation for the
design team and natural stone from one source.
BIM’S critical role
Key to the project’s success was the use of BIM across the design and
construction team, including key suppliers such as Coldspring. With BIM,
digital 3D representations of a facility’s physical and functional
characteristics are shared and managed among team members through the
project’s life cycle.
“The nearly universal adoption of BIM by members of the design and
construction team helped make this project seamless,” said Martin Eiss,
senior associate with Fentress Architects of Denver and project designer for
the Colorado Judicial Center. “There was a lot more collaboration early on
in this project,” said Eiss. “Coldspring was able to be on board from the
beginning with BIM and coordinate essential details and planning in the
With BIM, the team saved significant amounts of time. Coldspring showed its
ability to be a member of the design team early in the design phase by
modeling parts and pieces on the stone applications with the architectural
team. BIM also allowed Coldspring to provide details in the shop drawings,
which saved Fentress time on their end. In the field, general contractor
Mortenson Construction of Minneapolis used BIM, which facilitated
coordination and helped address potential conflicts before they arose. The
Judicial Center opened two months ahead of schedule, thanks in large part to
the team’s coordination and adoption of BIM.
Materials and selection
The Judicial Center was planned with a comparable design philosophy to
the adjacent State Capitol. As such, materials were selected carefully to
coordinate with those of the Capitol, making granite an ideal choice.
“The owner, Trammell Crow Company, and the State Judicial Department wanted
the Judicial Center to represent the dignity of the courts and maintain a
presence on the city’s civic center,” said Eiss. “Granite helps achieve
these goals with its permanence and representation of dignity.”
Coldspring’s Iridian granite was selected for the Judicial Center’s
“Iridian is wonderful material which is similar in color to the Capitol’s
granite,” said Eiss.
During the selection process, Coldspring consulted with the design team to
ensure goals were met.
The design team visited the Coldspring quarry to view slabs, observe quarry
output and explore how Coldspring could meet the project’s needs.
“Coldspring has a large granite deposit and could accommodate the scope of
this project,” said Eiss. “They also provided numerous samples and mockups
throughout the course of the project to ensure design intent was met.”
Coldspring fabricated four 52-foot-tall Iridian granite columns for the
Judicial Center’s front entry and twenty-four radial-clad Iridian granite
columns outside of the Learning Center, an interactive space for the general
public to learn about the judicial system’s history.
The entire four-story court building is clad with granite. Rockville White
was used as a base up to the second floor, and Iridian was used above that.
The first two floors of the adjoining 12-story office building is clad in
Rockville White granite, with precast panels above the second floor.
Coldspring coordinated with Gage Brothers Precast, Sioux Falls, S.D., for
Coldspring coordinated with The Gallegos Corporation, the stone and masonry
contractor from Denver, for the portions of the granite that needed to be
hand-set. The building’s corners were hand-set to wrap the corner with stone
and provide the look of a solid-stone, with no joints showing at the
Grand Corridor art features Iridian quarry
Inside the Judicial Center, the building’s Grand Corridor features a
mural constructed of ceramic tiles and low-relief hand-built ceramic art
forms. Entitled, “This Promises Water,” the mural includes images of the
Coldspring Iridian quarry where the granite for the building’s façade and
columns was quarried. Amy Baur of InPlainSight Art, Minneapolis, Minn.,
developed the concept which features 1,168 10- by 20-inch ceramic tiles,
laid out on two walls -- one 30 feet long and the other more than 90 feet.
Sources for the artwork include historical and contemporary photographs,
native botanical illustrations and vintage drawings.
“It just made sense to show the raw material that created the gorgeous
facade to be shown in the Grand Corridor since it was such a conceptually
great example of hard work and perseverance resulting in something valuable
and honorable,” said Baur.
Choice text is embedded throughout the work, and Baur selected words with
dual meanings that extend the content on which the artwork is built:
perspective, steady, level, humility, gravity, courage and wisdom.
Hardscape maintains building’s stature
Civitas Inc. designed the Judicial Center’s hardscape to provide the
same stature as the building. The Denver-based landscape architecture firm
selected Coldspring’s Lake Superior Green for the surfaces, including the
plinth on which the building rests.
“We couldn’t place a building like this on just a concrete base,” said Craig
Vickers, principal, Civitas. “The plinth, or podium-style, base anchors the
building to the ground and gives it a prominent architectural foundation.”
As the plinth cascades down to the street level, it engages the community by
offering seating areas for viewing parades and other events along the
adjacent Civic Center Park. What’s more, the west and east sides of the
plinth’s bleacher-style steps serve as storm water detention/water quality
ponds. As such, the east and west sides define the planted environment to
soften the building and give it a garden-like quality.
Granite slabs measuring 2 feet thick construct the plinth. Vertical surfaces
feature a honed finish, while the horizontal surfaces have a thermal finish.
“We selected different finishes for the plinth to allow light to react to
the different surfaces and give emphasis to vertical,” said Vickers.
Beyond the plinth lies the plaza area, constructed of 3-inch-thick slab
granite, soft-set on sand with a mechanical snow-melt system underneath to
withstand Denver’s harsh freeze-thaw conditions. All walking areas feature a
thermal finish for non-slip surfaces.
Throughout the hardscape design and installation, Coldspring provided
assistance to the team. Complex geometries had to come together piece by
piece, and BIM once again proved essential to success.
“We used our 3D Autocad modeling, and then we created 2D plan shapes,” said
Vickers. “During the shop-drawing process, Coldspring used our 2D plan
shapes to create the BIM model that was tied together with the general
contractor’s BIM model,” said Vickers. “This project demonstrates that the
sooner you model these pieces, the sooner you know where potential issues
are. We were able to identify challenges early instead of in the field.”
Design for the future
Designed with a 100-year-plus lifespan, the completed Ralph L. Carr
Colorado Judicial Center speaks to the future in terms of courtroom design
and technology, with the flexibility to accommodate future needs.
Low-maintenance, long-lasting materials such as granite were selected to
stand the test of time.
“This project demonstrates the more we can integrate BIM early on, the more
successful a project can be,” said Eiss “The relationship with the
subcontractors and suppliers such as Coldspring were critical -- all were
engaged in the design phase, which proved essential to this project’s
About the Author
Dan Rea is senior vice president, building materials, for Coldspring of
Cold Spring, Minn. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit
From natural stone and bronze to industrial and diamond tooling
products, Coldspring has been serving the architectural, memorial,
residential and industrial markets for more than 115 years. Headquartered in
Cold Spring, Minn., the company owns and operates multiple facilities across
the country, including 30 quarries, five fabrication locations and a bronze
foundry. They employ more than 900 employees throughout North America. To
learn more about Coldspring, visit