The latest edition of the Marble and Granite Expo hosted by the International Masonry Institute (IMI) and the Marble Setters and Finishers Local 21 BAC was one of the most successful in the event's six-year history. The day-long program delivered accredited education to architects and designers, and interaction between designers, installers and material suppliers. IMI hosts a major Tile Marble Terrazzo (TMT) program in Chicago each year to increase job opportunities for union marble setters, tile setters, terrazzo mechanics, finishers and contractors. This year's program was co-sponsored by the AIA Chicago chapter interiors committee, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), the Marble Institute of America (MIA), BAC Local 21 Marble Setters and Finishers, and the union marble contractors. The collective effort of these organizations helped to draw nearly 350 of Chicago's design and construction community to the program.

The presenters were carefully selected to provide a balanced program, educating the architects on materials, design and workmanship, the three necessary components of any marble job. Lori Kuebelbeck, national/international sales representative from Cold Spring Granite Co., delivered her popular “Rock Shop 101” seminar, which addressed material selection, properties, quarrying and production techniques. Richard Booms, president of Booms Stone Co. and president of Marble Institute of America at the time, presented the installation side of the trade from a union contractor's perspective, addressing many of the construction details covered in the new MIA Dimensional Stone Handbook. Finally, noted architect Lucien Lagrange, AIA, made a presentation on his many award-winning stone-clad buildings. The son of a stonemason, Lagrange demonstrates a passion for marble and granite, and uses these materials gracefully in his designs.

The Expo was an equally valuable component of the program, as 24 vendors and material suppliers displayed their products and answered questions. Many of the exhibiting companies remarked that IMI's TMT expos provide an excellent service to the industry. Since the show's focus is local and craft-specific, most vendors come away from the show with solid contacts and sales.

Scott Conwell, IMI's Illinois director and host of the event, reinforced the message that BAC union craftworkers and contractors are an integral part of any stone project. His presentation on IMI's current stone exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, discussed the collaboration between Chicago architect Jeanne Gang and master stonemason Matthew Redabaugh, a project that exemplifies what can be achieved with teamwork between architect and craftworker.

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