August 1, 2011

A New Twist for an Old Quarry

By Therese Dunphy

From golf courses to parks to wetlands to housing developments, many aggregate operators have found a second life for their properties once mining is complete. And it’s no surprise; many architects and developers are drawn to the dramatic visual vistas that come from former quarries. The most ambitious project I’ve seen to date, however, is the design of the Intercontinental’s Songjiang Hotel.

Designed for the site of an abandoned quarry near Shanghai, China’s “Quarry Hotel” is intended to sit below ground level, butting up against the bottom of the quarry. The design of the 400-bed resort is two levels higher than the 100-meter-deep quarry. Atkins Design Studio — architects for projects such as the Bahrain World Trade Center and Tianjin’s Pile of Boxes — produced the design as part of an international competition.

Waterfalls, underwater aquariums, and green areas are incorporated into the design to mirror the existing face of the quarry. A green roof and geothermal energy also bump the building’s sustainability quotient, while an extreme sports center with activities such as rock climbing and bungee jumping will be cantilevered over the quarry.

As the hotel market continues to look for unique properties to attract jaded travelers, this hotel looks to be a standout as a unique destination. Urban quarry operators should file this one in the idea folder as another option to leverage the post-mining value of their land, as well as a reason why communities should allow the development of such unique sites.

3 Things I Learned from this Issue

1. When setting up a drill, orient the machine so the wind carries dust away from its cooler intakes, page 22.

2. Zoning is more difficult than permitting because it involves more subjective responses from committee members, page 17.

3. Track-mounted crushers can produce 3,000 tons per hour, page 26.

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