Granite Joins Your Translucent Stone Palette

“Delicate”, “soaring”, “sparkling”, “translucent”… when it comes to building materials, natural granite doesn’t typically produce such evocative descriptions.

Backlit Translucent Granite PanelThink “granite” and most designers recall images of residential countertops, traditional lobby floors, historical stone monuments, and heavy building foundations. Associated with durability, heaviness, and traditional forms, granite is found in the palette of traditional architects and most often in residential project types.

Granite is found in abundance in nature, so it’s no coincidence that we associate it with fairly standard or traditional spaces. But have you ever seen peppery black and white granite milled so thinly that it transmits light? In an upcoming project with GPI’s translucent stone, the traditional expectations of granite are completely challenged.The extensive curtainwall system of a California government building will incorporate stunning translucent granite panels visible from both the exterior and interior of the building. The translucent stone, situated in the interior face of the insulated glazing unit, will punctuate the glass facade with panel proportions that mimic columns.

Translucent stone has been used in architecture before, but glass-backed panels on the exterior have posed challenges for architects. And you’d be hard pressed to find a manufacturer that can effectively mill stone down to one or two millimeters. For the California project, GPI’s DURA-Lite™ glass backed stone panels were subjected to various applied tests (deflection, delamination, load compression, accelerated weathering, etc.) and passed with flying colors.

The architects chose a peppery black and white granite that will be milled down to 1.5mm and laminated to glass, reducing the weight of the typically coarse and heavy stone and allowing it to transmit light. This is made possible by an extremely precise production process, allowing the stone to be sliced thinly and laminated to glass.  But it’s more than the ability to cut thin stone- considering the surface finishing process (polishing, filling, etc) is imperative in maintaining sparkling translucency.

Check back soon for updates on GPI’s groundbreaking project, it will be the first time translucent granite is used in a curtainwall application!