Playing a key role in international stone architecture

September 1, 2003
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Sitting in his offices in Montignoso, Massa, Italy -- near the very heart of the world's stone industry -- Campolonghi Group President Vando D'Angiolo proudly points out that virtually every city in North America has a skyscraper that was designed with his company's stone products. In truth, he is being modest, as they company has actually supplied entire skylines in some cities, such as Dallas, TX, where no less than four major high-rises feature Campolonghi's material.

One of the long-established group leaders in the stone industry, Campolonghi's roots go back to 1962, when D'Angiolo and a partner established Freda S.r.l., the initial fabricating plant of the company. The Campolonghi name was established in 1968, and the company has worked on prominent architectural projects around the world. Over the years, the firm has worked with some of the world's most renowned architects, such as Philip Johnson, Cesar Pelli, I.M. Pei, Kohn Pedersen Fox and others.

Today, the group is broken into different productive units, each specialized in their own sector of the stone industry. The Campolonghi Group has 350 employees on the payroll and 150 more on contract, for a total of 500 workers.

The quarrying unit, Cave di Sponda S.r.l. operates two quarries in the Carrara area, extracting stones such as Calacatta, which has been used for extremely high-end hotels, such as the Four Seasons. One of the two quarries is among the five largest in Carrara. The company also has exclusive deals with quarries in India and Brazil.

The fabricating unit of the company includes Freda S.r.l., which is headed by the next generation of the family, Stefano D'Angiolo. Recently, the company completed the rebuilding of Cesar Pelli's Wintergarden at the World Financial Center, which had been destroyed in the September 11 attacks on New York City. For this project, they were able to use the original drawings from when the Wintergarden was built decades ago.

The fabricating group also includes Campolonghi Italia S.r.l., which processes architectural work and large-scale projects. An example of this was taking place during Stone World's visit to Campolonghi's facilities, as it was fabricating stone for the Conference Palace Hotel, a massive complex in Abu Dahbi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. This project is being clad with curved cubic pieces of Salisbury Pink granite, quarried in North Carolina by Rock of Ages. In addition to the quality of the material, the stone was chosen due to the fact that Rock of Ages had ample inventory to supply for the timeframe of the project. The project will require 650 containers of material -- or 18,000 metric tons. Additionally, stone has been specified for interior paving, bathrooms and staircases, and material will also be brought in from India and Brazil. Covering nearly 250 acres, the Conference Palace Hotel is the second seven-star hotel in the world. This project, which is being modeled on the lines of an ornate Oriental Palace, will house the region's largest conference facilities as well as 400 rooms and suites. The total meeting and conference space of the Conference Palace will exceed 750,000 square feet, with an auditorium for 1,200 people, a ballroom for over 5,000 people and 30 additional meeting rooms. It will also house a separate wing for heads of state and leaders of GCC countries, comprising Royal Suites each measuring over 10,000 square feet. The Conference Palace hotel will be ready by September 2004 to host the GCC Summit -- which is the congress of all Muslim nations.

In addition to the project in Abu Dahbi, Campolonghi was also fabricating several other large-scale architectural works at the time of Stone World's visit, including the Warsaw Opera House in Poland, which is being fabricated from Silver Cloud granite, and another large-scale project in Utah with gray granite.

The company's machinery can fabricate very advanced work, such as columns, arches, spheres, concave, convex and conical elements. It works with an optimum degree of precision, with tolerances up to 1 mm.

Equipment includes 22 gangsaws from leading Italian manufacturers such as Gaspari Menotti, Barsanti and Giorgini Maggi. The company is planning to remove 11 of the oldest models and replace them with six new models, which will actually increase slabbing capacity.

Blocks are also processed on two stationary Pellegrini diamond wire saws for trimming, and the company has large-scale disc saws for cutting blocks for architectural applications. Additionally, a Micheletti multi-wire saw is used for processing blocks into thick, three-dimensional slabs.

To fabricate custom architectural work, Campolonghi has a broad range of bridge saws, including models from GMM, Pedrini and Noat. It also operates three state-of-the-art Omag CNC centers, including the Mill 5 and the Mill 98. The massive Omag Mill 5 combines the features of a true 5-axis machine with a large-diameter sawing head. The Omag Mill 5 is particularly useful for deep milling and shaping of large elaborate dimensional stone and architectural items. The Omag Mill 98 features a large working area for everything from kitchen countertops to inlaid tables, vanity tops, fireplaces and architectural carving. The machines can be equipped with a tool magazine as well as a three-dimensional laser copying system.

Intricate cuts in stone are also made with a Flow waterjet as well as four automated diamond wire saws for cutting sophisticated designs in dimensional stone materials. Three of these saws are from Pellegrini, and one is from Bideseimpianti.

In addition to advanced shaping of natural stone, Campolonghi is able to produce a variety of finishes at a very high rate. It has invested in new Breton flaming lines, as well as machinery for furnishing a waterjet-finish surface for surface. This is effective for creating texture on the stone with no color change.

The company has recently targeted the U.S. market as a consumer for finished stone slabs. Its factory includes two new Barsanti slab polishing lines for this purpose, and the machines are the latest generation of equipment from Barsanti.

With an eye on the environment, Campolonghi has an advanced large-scale recycling system for cleaning the water and treating slurry.

The company is very export minded, with 70% of production shipped out of Italy. Additionally, a large percentage of architectural work -- 60% -- goes to the U.S.

The block portion of the Campolonghi Group -- referred to as S.T.EN. (Stone Trading Enterprise S.r.l) -- is located in Marina di Massa, Italy, and it is also being run by the next generation, Guliano D'Angiolo. This arm of the company imports and trades granite blocks; some are consumed by the group, but most are sold to other companies. It has a block yard of nearly 500,000 square feet and 11,000 cubic meters of stone in stock.

Given its history of working with architects, it is not surprising that the Campolonghi works closely with the design community, sponsoring visits from architects overseas as well as the Marble Architectural Awards program from Internazionale Marmi e Macchine Carrara.

To ensure a successful future, the management at Campolonghi is continually reinvesting in the group. Vando D'Angiolo pointed out that the group has the advantage of specializing in finished jobs, so they have a niche market. "There is not much competition in our field. No one can do what we do in such a short time," he said.

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