Like A Rock

FTLComm - Tisdale - Sunday, July 29, 2001

When the design of the Centre entrance into the Tisdale Credit Union became defined I described it as "ostentatious" the use of stone to frame a doorway seemed to me as an extravagant show in a time when many of the Credit

Union's customers were having tough financial times.

Businesses have always attempted with the design of their buildings and the decoration of them to convey to the public the sort of facade they wish to portray, its their make-up their costume in a commercial world. Government builds wish to show themselves as responsible and trustworthy Banks want to look conservative and reliable, fast food outlets want to look like they are fun places to be and to enjoy one's self.

When it came time to upgrade the Tisdale Credit Union a lot of thought went into what would set their building off and make it distinct and credible. A Hudson Bay architectural consultant sold the board on a dignified and attractive design and NorthWind Innovations Inc. of Moose Jaw was engaged to turn drawing and plans into reality, well at least in terms of the decorative motif of the buildings exterior in the interior of the entrance.

We all know that stonework is extraordinarily expensive and that is why it is rarely used today in even the most expensive government structures. Stone is durable and requires master craftsman to handle and shape it into a usable form. Hence it was my assumption that when I saw it used around the main doorway I considered it a bit presumptuous but I was fooled by the extremely authentic and remarkable quality of the material being used.

To use real stone in the manner proposed on this building would have been simply impossible. The stone would require special piles set in place just to hold up the extreme weight of the material. Secondly, and this is most interesting, the craftsman needed to produce stone work no longer exist. Those trades are no longer available and with them has gone the ability, even if a corporation could afford the materials, to have work like this done.
Michael Dombowsky of NorthWind Innovations has developed clever new materials that are durable and look so authentic that at first glance and even careful examination, looks like the real thing. He explained that we learn as children that if things have certain properties we accept them as being the material they feel and look like. The complex facade material is built in his shop in Moose Jaw and he and his two sons are quickly finishing up this project.

Mr. Dombowsky and his company have done extensive work on the Moose Jaw tunnel project, the Moose Jaw station, McNally's a Irish pub in Regina and many other projects needed lightweight but authentic looking materials to replace or simulate heavy and unobtainable stonework.

When you consider that we have always used materials that "look like" something else, our house is covered with vinyl siding that never needs repainting and "looks like" cedar siding. It only seems appropriate that other building materials be simulated to give a building the look we want or that its own feels they need to make it look "like a rock."