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NSI 2021 Cleveland Study Tour

PICCO attended an interesting and informative study tour led by the Natural Stone Institute (NSI) from September 12-15, in Cleveland, Ohio. It was four days of architectural walking tours, historical sites, quarries and testing facilities. Followed by attending a Town Hall meeting, in-person networking and break-out sessions, a reception to honour Women in Stone.

Below, Daniel Picco, Project Coordinator and Connection Specialist, shares the experience from his trip.

Voinovich Bicentennial Park, East 9th Street Pier, Cleveland, OH. Photo: DJ Johnson, Unsplash

Cleveland, Ohio—The hub that connects the Western, Southern and Eastern United States, as well as the Canadian provinces to the North, via a series of waterways linking the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. Home of the Browns, Cavaliers and the Guardians, in which these waterways serve a breathtaking backdrop for sporting events. Home of the late WJW disc jockey, Alan Freed, who played a pivotal role in the promotion of the now well-known term, ‘Rock and Roll’. This eventually led to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame finding a permanent home in Cleveland 40 years later. And perhaps the most impressive institution to claim Cleveland as home, the Cleveland Clinic. A 100-year-old world renowned hospital that opened shortly after the end of World War I. The winding waterways do not only provide multiple access points and sheer beauty, but geologically, they proved to serve as the hardest, longest working, most sustainable producer of a building material that has ever existed.

Berea Sandstone Leaf Statue base by Nicholas Fairplay. Photo: Cleveland Quarries

The Legendary Berea Sandstone

As it relates to Picco Engineering, Cleveland and the surrounding areas is also home to the sandstone center of the world. Billions of years ago, moving water helped to transport Silica, Magnesia and Lime to the Ohio area. By way of pressure, natural chemical agents and time (LOTS of time!), the legendary Berea Sandstone was formed. We were fortunate to have The Natural Stone Institute lead a tour through this historical area (seeing the work of Sculptor Nicholas Fairplay), and the businesses that successfully promote and incorporate the use of Sandstone around them daily.

Above: Attendees learning about the NSI’s Testing Lab services

The Tours

The NSI first led us to Cleveland Quarries and gave us a look behind one of the oldest and largest sandstone quarries in the world. Hundreds of buildings from Texas to Toronto have been built to last using Cleveland Quarries’ Berea Sandstone. A world class facility that produces anything from patio pavers to hand carved column capitals. Our next stop was the NSI’s very own headquarters and test lab. A lab that sits second to none in terms of stone testing and reporting. The NSI team has worked hard year after year to build a lab that has been trusted by so many installers, fabricators and engineers around the world. The most impressive stop was the James A. Garfield Memorial in the Lakeview Cemetery. Completed in 1890, this monument was constructed with nothing other than the local sandstone. The exclusion of steel required stone blocks to be up to 36" thick at the foundation and 16" thick at the dome. Talk about standing the test of the time.

Above: Mike Picco presents Zach Carpenter of Cleveland Quarries a thank you note and letter of appreciation for allowing the NSI to tour their facilities.

A Tour Worth Taking

Visits to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a scavenger hunt at Amherst Sandstone Village, and slab supplier Mont Surfaces, capped off a great trip to Cleveland. The NSI did a tremendous job with the planning and executing of a study tour during what we hope to be the tail end of a global pandemic. Special thanks to Jim Hieb and Jane Bennett for making it all happen, and ensuring that although the focus of these tours is educational, everyone had a lot of fun! Looking forward to future events and spreading the word of how beneficial these study tours really are.


Blog written by: Daniel Picco

Project Manger and Connection Specialist at PICCO

Daniel has proudly been with PICCO Engineering since 2016. In addition to connection and anchorage design, Daniel works directly with clients ensuring all preferences, site conditions and best practices are met. His keen attention to detail provides our clients with the confidence and comfort to successfully deliver projects. Daniel holds a diploma in Architectural Technology from Sheridan College.


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