Stories in Stone – Virtual Tours Now Available

Booking for Groups Everywhere

Brooklyn Brownstone - 200 million years old!
Brooklyn Brownstone – 200 million years old

Most people do not think of looking for geology from the sidewalks they travel, but for the intrepid geologist any good rock can tell a fascinating story. On this virtual tour, which incorporates illustrations and photographs, you will explore a range of rocks equal to any assembled by plate tectonics, such as:
— 3.5-billion-year-old gneiss and 120,000-year-old Italian travertine;
— a fossil-rich limestone that is the most commonly used building stone in the US;
— and the granite that led to the construction of the first commercial railroad in America.

3.5 bya Morton Gneiss
Morton Gneiss – 3.5 billion years old

In this virtual exploration of  building stone from across the United States and Italy, I discuss history, transportation, and architecture to give you a new way to appreciate urban geology. Plus, we’ll even “visit” a couple of quarries and see where the stone originates.

Please contact me to book me live for a one-hour program (includes time for Q&A). Up to 25 people on a Zoom talk.

“David’s talk “Stories In Stone” is a fascinating ‘virtual field trip’ on the quarrying and use of building stone across our urban landscapes and even in historic structures, such as the Roman Coloseum. It is an entertaining and informative presentation for both geologists and non-geologists alike.”
Rob Dietrich, Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists

“David B. Williams’ virtual Stories In Stone tour is engaging, entertaining, and educational. As you’d expect from a naturalist of Williams’ caliber, the tour is multifaceted- weaving together geology, geography, architecture, and history. The virtual tour has the added benefit of “visiting” national and international locations. Mr. Williams’ humor and personality contribute to the experience and make for a welcoming question and answer session at the end. I highly recommend it.”
Kim Owens, Program Director, Seattle Architecture Foundation

Stories In Stone Clip from dbw on Vimeo. From a program presented to Seattle Architecture Foundation.

My talk is a Zoom meeting format of a PowerPoint presentation with me as a live narrator. To try to make it feel more in-person, I incorporate video and Google Earth to travel to different locations, including Minnesota, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Italy. I am available for questions throughout and after the talk.

For more information on booking me to make a presentation to your group, please send me an email: geologywriter at gmail dot com.

Louis Kahn and Travertine

Last night, I watched a fascinating documentary about the iconoclastic architect Louis Kahn. As the title implies, My Architect: A Son’s Journey, follows Kahn’s son Nathaniel as he attempts to discover the father he didn’t know. Kahn was one of the greatest and most complex architects of the twentieth century. He is best known for his work in the United States, which includes the Kimball Art Museum in Dallas and the Salk Institute in La Jolla. He also designed astounding buildings in Bangladesh and India. What he was less known for was that he had three families, one with his wife and two through long-term affairs. All three produced children. The movie is well worth watching not only for Kahn’s fascinating life but also for his stunning architecture.
What I like best about his work is his use of geometric shapes. He punctuates his walls with angles and arches and circles, allowing an ever changing interplay of light and shadow. Each design brings the buildings to life as they change shape throughout the day. His use of geometric shapes also connects his buildings to the landscape, not necessarily in an organic way, but in a way that continues the weaving of the ephemeral and the permanent.
And finally, Kahn appears to have been quite the fan of travertine. His use of it at the Salk Institute foreshadows and seems to have inspired Richard Meier’s use of the stone at the Getty Museum. Below are some photos I found on the web that to me are some of the most notable uses of travertine. I hope you’ll agree.

Kimball Art Museum (from the Southern Live Oak blog)
Kimball Art Museum detail (from flickr)

Salk Institute (from Daily Icon)

Salk Institute details (from Daily Icon)
Salk Institute seats (from Premier Green)

Yale Museum for British Art (from flickr)