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Build curb appeal: Use pavers to help make the sale

January 30, 2017


Look outside – do you see snow and ice and the dreariness that is winter?

Keep in mind that spring isn’t far away and with it, the annual awakening. It’ll get warmer, baseball practice will start and the sound of lawnmowers will again drift through open windows.

More to the point, the “House for Sale” signs will sprout like dandelions. And across the country, minivans, SUVs and tiny hybrids alike will start the great migration every Sunday afternoon, their occupants spilling forth to walk through real estate open houses.

If you are selling your house, there are a number of things you can do to improve its curb appeal. Conventional wisdom suggests that a contrasting front door means a real “wow factor” during the day, while at night, dramatic lighting can be used to play up the front of the house.

phb-rumbled-bluffs-installed-jpgOne way that you can set the property apart is to go more permanent than a coat of paint and setting out a few exterior lights. Choose instead to install a walkway–or walkways–out front, made of genuine clay pavers.

Laura Schwind, a registered landscape architect on the staff of Pine Hall Brick Company, America’s largest manufacturer of clay pavers, points out that today’s clay pavers come in a wide variety of colors beyond the classic reds. That means they can be incorporated easily into the exterior design of the home.

“You can look at the trim color or at the roof color,” says Schwind. “Sometimes, people will go lighter to simulate concrete. Sometimes, they will match it to the roof, if they have a roof that lends itself to that. Sometimes, they will go with the traditional red colors, because that’s what they have seen most often.”

It’s a good investment. A study by suggests that landscaping and hardscaping can deliver a return on investment as high as 150 percent – an ROI that puts it ahead of popular home improvement projects like kitchen or bathroom updates. (We wrote about it here.)


To get started, don’t be afraid to go big. Laying out a walkway that is at least four feet wide – wide enough for two people to pass – or even wider, will make a statement. Everybody else’s walkway on the block will look tiny by comparison.

“It makes even an economical house look like a million bucks,” says Schwind. “It adds so much to curb appeal. It makes it look richer and more impressive. It just makes your house a step up from all the neighbors.”

In terms of design, Schwind noted that a straight-on walkway works well for a formal Colonial house, while a curved walkway might be a better choice for a cottage or bungalow style.

Schwind also says that a common-sense, intentional approach works best for functionality. If there’s a driveway to one side or the other, consider installing one walkway from the street and a second one from the driveway, both ending at the front door.

“It really does make it more functional and you have more visual appeal, because it helps define the space,” says Schwind. “You could also build in an additional garden area in the front with two walkways as well.”


One of the biggest benefits is that the look will last. With clay pavers, the color goes all the way through and never fades. Leave it as it is and the color will become a rich patina over time; clean it with a diluted solution of bleach and water and a nylon brush and it will look exactly the same as the day it was installed. Read more here.

Maintenance is easy, as well. Should a tree root heave several pavers out of place, take out the pavers, set them to one side, dig down and cut the root out, then replace the pavers. Contrast that with a concrete walkway, which will have to be dug up and patched, or replaced entirely, to repair the damage.

After figuring out what kind of pavers you want, the next step is to choose a pattern. A herringbone pattern is effective but will require a lot of cuts, as opposed to a classic running bond or basketweave. Finally, before installation, find and mark where your underground utilities are located. Don’t stop there: offering a clay paver patio out back effectively adds an outdoor room to the living space.

If you are buying and not selling – and if the place doesn’t have a paver walkway up front – envision how it would look with one in place.  If there is a poured concrete walkway or patio already there, you could put down thinner pavers made for the purpose atop them and instantly dress up your new home.

We wrote about that here.


Clay pavers commemorate brick industry in New Jersey park

December 19, 2016


In between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Trenton, New Jersey is Crystal Lake Park, an oasis of 370 acres built for hikers, fishermen, bird watchers and horseback riders. It’s an area where you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see 75-foot cliffs.

“We opted to use the Pine Hall Brick pavers to reflect the site’s history with the brick industry. We wanted a nicer paving material so we went with the red pavers.”—Steve Lennon, senior project manager with Taylor Design Group

But you do, because they used to dig into the clay-rich soil of southern New Jersey and make clay bricks, leaving hilly areas where there weren’t any before.  Church Brick, which has been in business for 100 years and is across the road from the park, mined clay from the land and made bricks from it until 1970.


Steven Lennon, LLA, ASLA and a senior project manager with Taylor Design Group of Marlton, NJ, which specializes in landscape architecture and park planning and design, wanted to call attention to the brickmaking heritage of the area, so Pine Hall Brick Full Range Red Rumbled clay pavers were specified. (Rumbled pavers are tumbled after firing, which makes them look older than they are.)

Lennon said that the site remains rural in nature and represents an effort on the part of the Burlington County government to preserve a farm belt across the county, by purchasing development rights to farms or buying the land outright. And that’s a significant amount of land, because Burlington County itself goes across the entire state of New Jersey. For its part, Crystal Lake Park is still worked a farmer who rents the land and visitors are urged to stay away from ongoing agricultural operations.


Lennon anticipates one question. Farmland? In New Jersey?

“People don’t think that about New Jersey because it is so influenced by New York,” says Lennon. “But we are similar to North Carolina. We have the same pine woods. And Burlington County is part of the beaches, as well.”

There are, indeed, several similarities. Mansfield Township was once a booming clay mining area. During construction, workers found old bricks that had been used as backfill on the land. Church Brick once had a rail line that ran from its property across the road into what’s now Crystal Lake Park and workers during construction found brick fragments and clinkers, presumably used as backfill during mining operations.



Church Brick is still supplying brick, made by other manufacturers and supplied the clay pavers used at the Crystal Lake Park property.  It is a top 10 dealer for Pine Hall Brick Company’s clay pavers and the two firms do share some similarities. Both companies have been around a long time, as Church Brick began in 1916 and Pine Hall Brick began in 1922. And both are still owned by the same families that began them.


At Crystal Lake Park these days, visitors find turf trails for horses and hiking trails, stabilized with gravel, along with dirt trails. Bird watchers, hikers and fishermen are regular visitors to the park. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a $2.6 million development project added about four miles of trails to the park, with special emphasis on leaving the park, as close as possible, to its natural state. Part of the project was to add picnic tables, barbecue grills and restrooms. Another new feature was to add a special horse mounting area to accommodate riders who use wheelchairs.

The newspaper also reported that future plans are to add features that will allow on-road bicyclists, roller-bladers and walkers to use the park. Plans are to pave a 10-foot-wide flat section of a trail, eventually linking it to the 60-mile Delaware River Heritage Trail, which will eventually link 24 towns in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

When the changes do come, the area’s heritage will be remembered in a red-clay reminder.

Photo credits: Taylor Design Group.



Permeable pavers key to award-winning stormwater projects

November 18, 2016

The Stroud Water Research Center.

phb-lea-school-4Winning awards in your industry, especially when you beat the competition, is a lot of fun. Over the years, Pine Hall Brick has certainly won our share.

But when your product is part of a project that wins an award that honors efforts to clean up the environment, then that’s something of which to be genuinely proud.

In Philadelphia earlier this year, two projects—the Stroud Water Research Center and the Lea Elementary School—won inaugural awards from the Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Partners. The group represents an initiative within the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) of Greater Philadelphia.

Both projects used StormPave® genuine clay permeable pavers from Pine Hall Brick Company, installed in a best-practices installation.

(More about the awards are here:

The GSI Partners is a business group that was formed to support the success of Green City, Clean Waters, Philadelphia’s five-year effort to reduce stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflows by investing in green stormwater infrastructure. The group acts to ensure that the greenest approaches to stormwater management are used and that public and private investments are spent with local firms.

Telling the environmental story

Older cities mix stormwater runoff and septic sewer. As the cities expand, more pavement means more runoff; more people mean more sewage. Combining the two overtaxes sewage treatment plants that were designed for lower populations, causing overflows that pollute waterways.

Pine Hall Brick Company’s StormPave permeable pavers help by lowering stormwater volumes, directing rain water into the ground where it can be naturally filtered or used to irrigate rain gardens, instead of to storm drains. With less volume for a sewage treatment plant to treat, what remains can be treated more efficiently.

Since the Stroud Water Research Center has studied threats to fresh water for more than four decades, it was appropriate that its new facility follow environmentally sound best practices for handling stormwater. An award description says that rain gardens overflow to an infiltration trench that overflows to additional rain gardens and is eventually dispersed to a restored meadow and woodland. Overflow from the roof goes into cisterns for re-use, while paths are constructed of StormPave permeable pavers.


Lea Elementary School hardscape. Photo used by permission of SALT Design Studio.

The Lea Elementary School was a larger project, because it managed stormwater from both the public street and the schoolyard, according to the award description. It involved planting 3,000 perennials, 35 shrubs and 19 trees – and effectively transformed a predominately paved schoolyard into a landscape with four-season appeal and 5500 square feet of StormPave® pavers.

Sara Pevaroff Schuh, RLA, ASLA, principal of SALT Design Studio, said Lea Elementary School followed the design pattern of many Philadelphia public schools: A large asphalt lot in the front, perhaps a basketball court and some play equipment.


Lea Elementary School hardscape. Photo used by permission of SALT Design Studio.

Grant money was available to improve stormwater management in public schools and the West Philadelphia Coalition for Neighborhood Schools focused on Lea. A total of $232,000 was approved. The first priority in developing the design theme was to find out more about the community, in which a large number of immigrants, mostly from Africa, live and in which a total of 17 languages are spoken.

The theme, then, presented itself. How did you get here?


Lea Elementary School hardscape. Photo used by permission of SALT Design Studio.

“The concept was to look at the journey of a person and the journey of a raindrop,” said Schuh. “We wanted to create a parallel between the two, to find ways that this schoolyard could be about that journey.  This schoolyard is to be a home base, a gathering place for people in the community, a place where they could be comfortable being there and not feel out of place. What does it mean to settle in a place and put down roots?”


Lea Elementary School hardscape. Photo used by permission of SALT Design Studio.

In a sense, the outside of the school is an extension of the classroom, with the landscape becoming a teaching tool. And how they got there was through meetings with parents, students, school staff and neighbors. Volunteers planted many of the plants and help to maintain the schoolyard, which has effectively engaged the community and encouraged future investment in the project.

To us, that means that although the project itself won an award, the real winners are the people in the Lea Elementary School community. Now and in the decades to follow, we’re betting that they will continue to build a community in that schoolyard in Philadelphia.

Hit the Bricks 8-hour relay honors Brian Piccolo

October 19, 2016


A strong foundation—
WFU students, faculty run over  Pine Hall Brick pavers to raise money for cancer research

“Hit the Bricks,” an eight-hour relay race along the brick pathway of Hearn Plaza at Wake Forest University to raise money for cancer research in honor of Brian Piccolo was held Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A final remembrance lap for cancer victims and survivors culminated with a luminary ceremony in front of Wait Chapel at the end of the event, which brings Wake Foresters together for a cause that long has been important to the community.


Over the course of the eight-hour race, Wake Forest students, faculty and staff as well as friends of the University raced to see who could run the most laps around Hearn Plaza, which is laid in Pine Hall Brick clay pavers, and raise the most money.

The Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund was started by students in 1980 in memory of the Wake Forest All-American football player, Brian Piccolo, who attended Wake Forest in the 1960s, went on to become a running back for the Chicago Bears, and died in 1970 of embryonal cell carcinoma, which is closely linked to testicular cancer, at the age of 26.


The "doughnut lap" is an added challenge! reports that although Piccolo led the nation in rushing and scoring as a senior at Wake Forest in 1964, beating out two-time All-American Gale Sayers among others, he wasn’t drafted. Scouts believed the 5-foot-11, 190-pound back wasn’t big or fast enough.

The Chicago Bears signed Piccolo as a free agent. Piccolo spent a year on the Bears’ taxi squad before rushing 258 times for 927 yards and catching 58 passes for 537 yards from 1966-69. He scored four touchdowns. Although he spent four seasons with the team, he never escaped Sayers’ overwhelming shadow – and wouldn’t live long enough to achieve his dream to become a great NFL running back.

Piccolo’s relationship with Sayers was the centerpiece of “Brian’s Song,” which was made into two movies, one for television and one for theatrical release. In it, Piccolo’s mild temperament, kindness and sense of humor – along with his courageous outlook on life – were on full display.


School landmark, Wait Chapel presides over relay.

The annual “Hit the Bricks” event is a fitting tribute to Piccolo. In 2003, the first year, 17 teams participated and raised nearly $4,000. In 2015, Hit the Bricks met its goal with 100 teams raising more than $42,000 to find a cure for cancer. This year, approximately 125 teams raised more than $47,000.

L-R: David Ellis and Harold Beaty of Pine Hall Brick with student Brett DerGarabedian.


All of the funds raised support the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

For more information about Hit the Bricks and the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund, please visit



Stormpave is pulling for Auburn through adversity

September 29, 2016

The two famous oaks at Auburn University – site of generations of celebrations of football victories – were back this fall. Now, one of them is gone again.

The famous oaks, newly replanted, again sprouted long ribbons of toilet paper after Auburn’s shellacking of Arkansas State, 51-14, on Sept. 10. But after another victory two weeks later, someone set fire to one of the two oak trees, causing severe damage. A suspect was arrested.

One of the oldest traditions in college athletics, Auburn students and alumni have traditionally celebrated wins by rolling the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner, which is the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and College Street, the spot where downtown Auburn ends and the Auburn University campus begins. New oaks were planted and the promise was that this fall would be the first time that the celebration would be allowed.

It appeared to be the end of a story that we began telling two years ago next month. But as it turns out, it wasn’t.

The story is that the original oaks, estimated to be 85 years old, were poisoned by an Alabama fan. The old trees came down and a massive environmental cleanup was undertaken. Pine Hall Brick’s permeable StormPave pavers were chosen as one of the materials in the new plaza near the edge of campus.

Subsequently, we reported on the two new 35-foot trees that were planted to replace the oaks that were killed – and the promise at that time was that this fall, the tradition of rolling the oaks after a win on the gridiron would begin again.

And it did, on Sept. 10. But in the early morning hours of Sept. 25, following a victory over LSU and the ritual rolling of the trees, the toilet paper was intentionally set on fire in one of the two oaks, causing serious damage and an uncertain prognosis.

In a prepared statement, professor of horticulture Gary Keever said: “There is little or no healthy foliage on the burnt tree. Most of the remaining leaves will drop off over the next week or so. We will have to wait until next spring to see what long-term effects the fire had.”

Keever will use a lift this week to more closely examine the canopy of the tree.

“I don’t think the fire killed the tree, but we may never see it return to its appearance before this act,” he said.


For now, the tradition will continue, with some changes. Given that the new trees are still being established in the soil, the university had asked students not to climb in them and to stay behind fences. Instead of being removed with fire hoses, the toilet paper will now be removed by hand. Now, the university is asking the students not to roll the fire-damaged tree.

(For more about the Auburn Oaks go here.)

As it was, this first season was one with stops and starts. Students and fans were primed to head down to Toomer’s Corner and loft toilet paper into the heavens as soon as football season started.

But it wasn’t to be. The season, which opened on Sept. 3, ended in a loss to Clemson, 19-13. The second game came out much better. At the end, with a victory margin of 37 points, the party began and the toilet paper flew. See for yourself:


Photos 1 & 3 provided courtesy Auburn University.

Brick and pavers ideal match for new urban designs

August 30, 2016

Greensboro Grasshoppers stadium

In downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, everything’s coming up red. And brown. And beige. And a host of other colors in between — the clay brick pavers in a full range of colors in walkways and patios; the face brick in the vertical walls of newly built apartment buildings and breweries.

Much of it, as it turns out, is from around here. Much of the clay pavers and face brick was manufactured just down Battleground Avenue and US 220 North, 25 or so miles through the North Carolina countryside, at Pine Hall Brick Company’s plants in Madison, North Carolina.

Arguably, the building boom in downtown Greensboro began in earnest with the 2005 opening of Yadkin Bank Park, home of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, a Class A affiliate of the Miami Marlins baseball team.

Greensboro Grasshoppers stadium entrance

The stadium of red brick and wide concourses is intentionally reminiscent of classic open-air ballparks of the past. If you were to stand at home plate and walk to the outfield, you would see the site where a former car dealership’s building was demolished and in its place, the four-story Greenway at Stadium Park apartments went up.

Greenway Apartments 3

There and across the street at Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments, the tenants are mostly young professionals and students at nearby universities, many of whom can’t recall the flight from downtown to outlying areas and the shuttered buildings which were left in their place.

“All of downtown is moving in the right direction, which is good to see.”
—Eric Bradley

Unlike more conventional neighborhoods, these new residents can leave their homes, walk a block and attend a ball game; or walk a block in another direction and pull up a stool at Joymongers, an innovative brewery that in good weather throws open garage doors and brings the outside indoors.

Dean Schimmenti, an architect for Bradley and Ball, worked on the design of Greenway at Stadium Park, with the main idea being to echo, in a visual sense, the classic lines and architecture of the ballpark.

Urban Retro Modern Patio

The deep, reddish brown brick exterior was purposefully selected for the complex and for the Greenway at Fisher Park across the street. Both projects were designed to complement the brick at the ballpark and to look as though they had been there for years.

“On that project, we have an amenities area on the first floor that opens up to a pool and outdoor cabana and on the fourth floor, we have a cantilevered floor and lounge that overlooks the baseball field,” says Schimmenti.

Architect Eric Bradley, who is a partner in Bradley and Ball, said the design’s main theme was to serve as a transition area between downtown and Fisher Park, a 1920s-era neighborhood with Craftsman-style bungalows and brick apartment buildings, a mix of restored single-family homes and rental properties, many occupied by college students.

Downtown Greensboro Greenway 2

“We really took our cues, both from the red brick at the ballpark and the traditional homes in Fisher Park,” says Bradley. “It really is for people who live, work and play downtown. If I were single and 30 years younger, that’s where I would like to live.”

While the apartments near the ballpark are where many live, Joymongers is where many go to have fun. Mandy Clift, an architect with J. Hyatt Hammond says that in addition to fitting in with the neighborhood and looking as though it had been there forever, the site itself helped the design team make its decisions as to how the project would finally appear.

Joymongers Greensboro, NC

“It really had a lot to do with the siting of the building and the patios, because the one side where the street is closed will be a City of Greensboro park in the future,” says Clift. “We also knew we would have a lot of art and signage on that side of the building and we put in recessed areas that would frame that art and that would mimic the opening of those garage doors.”

“We really took our cues, both from the red brick at the ballpark and the traditional homes in Fisher Park.”
—Eric Bradley

The patio, which was designed to provide access to food trucks, the awning that has a unique angle to it, the garage doors which provide a way for a band to play inside and for the audience outside to be a part of it, all relate not only to the design but to the experience, the architect said.

Greenway Greensboro Apartments pool 2

“This is authentic in that it has an Old World feel to it, the brick was tumbled and has broken edges, meaning that it has more character and looks like an older brick,” says Clift.
Clift notes that the placement of an open air brewery just off a planned Downtown Greenway even provides a public service: If you walk, run or bicycle, especially on a summer evening in North Carolina, you gotta have a place to stop and rehydrate.

“Whenever I was younger, I didn’t come downtown to hang out, to shop or to eat,” says Clift. “I am glad to see it evolving the way it is.”

Bradley agreed. Both these projects – and others in downtown Greensboro – are a sign that downtown is on its way back.

“All of downtown is moving in the right direction, which is good to see,” says Bradley. “I have lived here long enough to remember that downtown is someplace where you didn’t go unless you worked there.”


Brick and pavers win awards in two institutional projects

July 29, 2016
Pine Hall Brick Cobb Health Services 2

Photo: Brick Industry Association by John Clemmer, Jasper, Georgia.

Two Pine Hall Brick projects were honored in the 2016 Bricks In Architecture competition, sponsored by the Brick Industry Association, an industry trade group.

Clay Pavers in Kester International Promenade at High Point University
The Kester International Promenade at High Point University in High Point, NC won a Bronze Award in the Higher Education category. The goal was to replace aging concrete sidewalks with new brick pavers that allowed for better flow of foot traffic, while maintaining the beauty of the surroundings. The project specifically avoided mature trees to leave them undisturbed.

In addition, the pavers were used to provide a better entry to the buildings and in an almost subliminal way, to convey the importance of the college experience to students and faculty who were entering the buildings.

We wrote about High Point University’s installation earlier this year. 

Pine Hall Brick Cobb Health Services 1

Photo: Brick Industry Association by John Clemmer, Jasper, Georgia.

The second winner was the Cobb and Douglass County Behavioral Health Center in Marietta, GA, that won a Bronze Award in the Health Care Facilities category.

The Center is intended to ensure the availability of services to those individuals struggling with developmental disabilities and substance abuse issues, irrespective of their financial circumstances. So the overall design intent was to create a facility that did not project an institutional feel. Through the use of multiple brick colors and patterns, the design created a facility that not only doesn’t look like an institution, but does look like a Class A office building.

Brick was chosen because the goal was to have a building that has a long life span, because of brick’s reputation for durability, limited maintenance and cost effectiveness.

The Center is a two-story, 43,042 square-foot facility that has treatment areas and administrative offices on the first floor and shell space on the second floor, for future expansion. It provides stabilization and walk-in services for adults experiencing behavioral healthcare issues. The facility houses a 24-bed stabilization unit with four additional transition beds, a 23-hour observation level program and a clinically staffed walk-in center that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Award Credits

The Bronze Award for the Kester International Promenade at High Point University recognized LKC Engineering, pllc, and Robert Hayter of Aberdeen, NC, builders Shelco LLC of Winston-Salem and Toby Hill, along with Pine Hall Brick as manufacturer. Also recognized were masonry contractor PDC Hardscapes of Greensboro, NC and grading contractor Smith and Jennings of High Point, NC.

The Bronze Award for the Cobb and Douglass County Behavioral Health Center recognized Pieper O’Brien Herr Architects and Anthony Turpin of Alpharetta, GA, jB+a Landscape Architecture and Jon Benson of Atlanta, and Batson Cook Builders of Atlanta. Pine Hall Brick Company was recognized as the main brick manufacturer and Forterra Brick of Charlotte was cited as the secondary brick manufacturer. Also recognized were brick distributor, North Georgia Brick Company of Cumming, GA, and masonry contractor, Bibler Masonry of Roswell, GA.



Pine Hall Brick pavers part of downtown revival

June 29, 2016

in front of resturant 3
If you look hard enough at Center Street in downtown Goldsboro, NC, you can see the past and the future at the same time.

The past was the railroad, which is the reason the town is there.

The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was completed in the 1840s. The intersection of the rail line and New Bern Road sparked construction of a hotel, which in turn led to the growth of a community around it. It was first called Goldsborough’s Junction and was named after Matthew Goldsborough, an assistant chief engineer with the railroad line. Railroad connectors to Charlotte and Beaufort helped grow the town even more. During the Civil War, the railroad was seen as vital to Confederate interests and not surprisingly, was often the target of Union attacks intended to cut supply lines.

That railroad is why the right of way on Center Street in downtown Goldsboro is 140 feet wide. The width was to accommodate railroad tracks that ran down the center of the street until they were removed in the 1920s. Even though Center Street is seen as the historic heart of both the downtown district and the city itself, the design – including four rows of angled parking, a narrow concrete median and 12’ sidewalks – meant that almost all of the 140 foot right of way was under pavement of one kind or another. And that meant, also, that downtown began to struggle as businesses and shoppers alike fled the cluttered center city for strip shopping centers and office buildings on the outskirts of town.

What was needed was to find a way to get people back downtown.

Public Parking 2
The solution

Enter Allison Platt.

Platt, a landscape architect and urban designer, prepared the master plan which recommended streetscape improvements as a high priority for downtown revitalization.

PHB - Goldsboro Night

Platt’s design called for widening and redesigning the brick sidewalks from 12′ to 17′ and providing a wider landscaped median on each block. Roundabouts were added at each intersection to allow removal of traffic lights and arms and improve both pedestrian and vehicle safety. Other elements that added to the appeal of the street included wifi service and speakers mounted on new streetlights that allow music to be piped to the street. Bike lanes and bike racks were added throughout the project.

Two different cross-sections of the street were designed. Sections with the highest concentration of existing retail businesses have two rows of angled parking. Sections with less retail have four rows of parallel parking and a wider median. This design allows more parking where it is needed and at the same time, wider medians on other blocks to provide space for festivals, farmer’s markets and other community activities.

Sidewalk w bench
The method

To pick up on existing colors and textures of the surrounding red clay brick buildings, sidewalks and median parks use three colors of Pine Hall Brick clay pavers, with a banded pattern on the sidewalks and varied patterns utilizing the same three colors in the median parks to add visual interest. The pavers are purposefully set on a sand base, which means that when underground utilities need repair, the pavers can be taken out and set to one side, the work can be done and the pavers can be replaced, without damaging the sidewalk or changing its appearance.

In addition to benches and tables throughout the project, brick seat walls enclose the median parks and accommodate additional seating during public events such as parades and festivals.

Green building principles were used throughout the project. The clay pavers themselves are green, in that they are made out of readily available shale and water, do not change color over time and are durable enough to last forever.

In addition to the hardscape installation, new trees were introduced, including Bosque Elms on the sidewalk to maximize views to storefronts, and Willow Oaks in the median to eventually provide a high shady canopy in the warm summer months.

Other examples of green construction include the elimination of pavement, therefore improving storm drainage and increasing water entering the ground, the inclusion of continuous structural soil under the sidewalks to help the trees grow, additional pedestrian space and new bike lanes.

PHB - Goldsboro Crowd 4
The results

The installation hasn’t been in place that long (Phase One in November 2012, Phase Two in November, 2015), but it has already won awards from the North Carolina chapter of the American Planning Association and the North Carolina Main Street program. And its early success has helped jumpstart the project: based in part on Phase One, the City of Goldsboro won a $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant that helped fund Phase Two.

More importantly, people are indeed coming back. The December, 2015 Lights Up! dedication brought an estimated (and record-breaking) 5,000 people downtown. In all, 49 new businesses have opened on or near Center Street and 23 commercial buildings are in the process of rehabilitation since Phase One began, including new opportunities for second-floor residential development.

PHB Goldsboro Rainy Street

Congratulations, Class of 2016!

May 26, 2016

Photo: Elon University

Across America, this is the season for college commencements. Each is different and yet, each is the same. Parents and siblings come in. Hundreds are in matching caps and gowns, forming lines that are not too far removed from the single-file, no-pushing lines they used to form in second grade as they walked obediently outside for a fire drill or to the cafeteria for lunch.


Photo: Elon University

But this is different. For most, it’s the beginning of adulthood – careers, home purchases, families. Perhaps decades from now, these new graduates will be seated in those same chairs on that same sun-washed lawn, watching their own children walk up, take their diploma, shake hands with the college president , turn and smile.

We’re betting that a lot of what these graduates see when they are firmly in middle age—and watching a graduation line march, as opposed to marching themselves—will look a lot like it does today. We know, because we at Pine Hall Brick Company have been a big part of scores of college campuses for decades, playing a role that’s almost subliminal.


Photo: High Point University

Those who design buildings will tell you that the design of a particular place will depend on its use. A warehouse will look different from a church. An office building will look different from a fast-food restaurant. And a college will look, well, like a college.


Photo: High Point University

Conventional, residential, four-year colleges have a look and feel all their own.  The residence halls, classroom buildings, dining halls and recreation centers tend toward similarities at every campus: classic architecture, usually of red brick. Fountains (usually hit at 3 a.m. at least once a semester by detergent-wielding students.)  A bell tower that either congratulates you for getting there on time or chides you several times a  day for running late. And everywhere, from the University of North Carolina to the University of Southern California, there are pathways of Pine Hall Brick clay pavers, close in next to buildings or across a quad of oaks.

Wake Forest University hosts the 2016 Commencement Ceremony on Hearn Plazas on Monday, May 16, 2016.  Winston-Salem Councilwoman Vivian Burke is hooded with her honorary Doctor of Laws degree by assistant provost Barbee Oakes.

Photo: Wake Forest University

Sometimes, they allow students to walk two abreast;  others have bicycle lanes of clay pavers running alongside.  In some places, clay pavers have been enlarged into a plaza, where they have been engraved with the names of those long graduated, who contributed money to their alma mater.

We’ve written often about our partnerships with institutions of higher education. We’re  at East Carolina UniversityHigh Point UniversityFurman UniversityAuburn University, the University of South Carolina, the University of PennsylvaniaWake Forest UniversityConverse College, the University of North Caroina at CharlotteChamplain CollegeNorth Carolina State University and Flagler College.

And there are scores of others; too many to list.

Photo: Wake Forest University

Photo: Wake Forest University

We had occasion not too long ago to chat with a facilities manager at a leading university. He told us that they decided on a clay paver walkway up to campus buildings because it sent a message that students were entering a place that needed to be taken seriously, a place where it was their privilege to be, a place where they needed to pay attention and learn how to build a life for themselves and their communities. Out of all the places that they would visit, this was a place where they needed to be fully engaged and authentic.

Congratulations , then, to the Class of 2016. Your achievements are real; your potential has been demonstrated; and now, the real challenges begin.

You’ll be back here, on a future spring afternoon, waiting for your children to graduate. And so will we.


Photo: High Point University

Founder’s Walk merges bikes and pedestrians on colorful pavers

April 28, 2016

At East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, the modern-day slogan is Tomorrow Starts Here.

Looking toward the future is nothing new in this place, which began as a teacher’s college in 1907 and which since then has grown into the third largest university in North Carolina, with renowned programs in the arts, sciences,  business and medicine.

Accordingly, an investment in tomorrow in the form of clay paver walkways and bicycle paths – Founder’s Walk – has brought a unifying design element to the historic campus mall,  to what was once a disjointed collection of vehicle alleyways and parking lots.


Raleigh, NC-based landscape architecture firm ColeJenest & Stone said that the challenge was to provide a pedestrian – and bicycle-friendly  – environment to the main part of campus. The goal was to convert the aging asphalt surface parking into a multi-use path.

The pattern creates pedestrian and bicycle zones in the 18-foot-wide path. Pine Hall Brick Company pavers in a basketweave pattern were used to define the 10-foot pedestrian zone, with a herringbone pattern for the bicycle lanes. Dark accent chevrons that point the way to the correct direction of travel were used in the bicycle lanes.


Color really makes his project work! Pine Hall Brick colors used in the project, include:
Edges are English Edge Dark Accent.
Walkway is English Edge Full Range and Pathway Full Range.
Chevrons in bicycle path are English Edge Autumn.
Bike path itself is English Edge Georgian Buff.

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The rich tones of the clay pavers complement the historic architecture surrounding the mall and contributes to the collegiate atmosphere as it weaves past old-growth trees. The craftsmanship expressed in the project has led to a campus icon that reinforces the school’s brand.

PHB - ECU 14

The usefulness of the pavers extended well beyond aesthetics. The pavers proved themselves durable enough to withstand both 80,000 pound emergency vehicles and event traffic. And the system is at once both authentic and green in the following ways:

·       It’s a locally sourced material, which reduces fuel consumption for product delivery.

·       It encourages pedestrian and bicycle transportation, which reduces dependence on automobiles on campus.

·       It supports a sustainable stormwater management system that directs runoff to landscape areas planted with native and adapted species.

And tomorrow? More is on the way, as the Founders Walk project is the first step in a planned network that will link all campus neighborhoods.


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