Sources for Block that Rocks - Page 2

Ten MCM-friendly patterns of decorative concrete block—and where to find them
Fridays on the Homefront
Six more MCM-friendly patterns of concrete screen block that are still available today: (top to bottom) Maltese, Vista-Vue, Radiant, Pompeian, Sunflower, Cross Diamond. Images courtesy Ron and Barbara Marshall

“The Vista [pattern] is probably getting the most looks these days,” says Juan Tejeda, design group sales manager for ORCO Block & Hardscape. He said this week that the Orange County- based company, founded in 1946, makes nine different block patterns, but Vista, “That one seems to be pretty popular.”

The thing is, at least five other companies make that same pattern—which the Marshalls call Cross Diamond in their guide—and four of them have entirely different names for the pattern. One of the most popular patterns of all time, which the Marshalls’ guide calls Sunflower, is currently made under at least eight other names by about a dozen manufacturers!

But it needn’t be all that complicated—because the ‘10 Blocks that Rock’ sidebar delivers the information about what and where to buy with simplicity.

The sidebar story, of course, identifies the varied names and companies for the ten block patterns. That can be important if you’re considering the screen block look, a longstanding architectural tradition in warmer climes known as brise soleil (sun break).

The Marshalls did much of their research in the national library of the American Institute of Architects and especially the archives of the National Concrete Masonry Association in Herndon, Virginia, which “turned out to be a fantastic resource.”

“Then we got even crazier and we started going through individual manufacturer’s product pamphlets,” said Ron Marshall, like his wife a board member of the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation. “I did find it very interesting that the industry [back in the mid-century] for the first time used clever marketing techniques. They did some pretty slick marketing for the [product].”

So for starters, check out the Summer CA-Modern’s ‘Blocks of Beauty’ story, then the online-only sidebar for block available today, ‘10 Blocks that Rock.’ If you crave more, don’t forget the definitive story about concrete screen block and its signature MCM look—the Marshalls’ Concrete Screen Block: The Power of Pattern.