Complementing the Arizona environment

August 1, 2002
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Like much of the architecture in the Southwest, the interior design of the Westin Hotel in Scottsdale, AZ, is characterized by earth tones which reflect the natural environment of the region. But to achieve this affect, the builders actually turned to a source thousands of miles away on the other side of the globe, as they used Terra-Cotta Red sandstone from India for the interior vertical surfaces.

The stone was fabricated by TAB India of Jaipur, India, and supplied through the company's U.S. office and depot, Amsum & Ash of Minneapolis, MN. According to Amit Gupta of Amsum & Ash, the architects and builders went through an extensive selection process before choosing the Terra-Cotta Red sandstone. "They were actually looking at Arizona sandstone," said Gupta. "They wanted the red sandstone look for the hot climate, and areas like Arizona, Nevada and Texas have traditionally used sandstones which came domestically." Eventually, Gupta said, they selected the Indian stone for its availability in large-sized panels as well as its flexural strength. Even in large-format panels as much as 4 feet long, he said the stone did not require a thickness of more than 1 1/4 inches.

The sandstone was used for walls and columns throughout the interior public spaces of the hotel. The majority of the stone on the project features a honed finish, which highlights the patterning on the surface of the stone. Fabricating the stone panels was a challenge, as there were approximately 40 to 50 different sizes required for the design. "Pieces varied from 10 x 12 inches to 2 x 4 feet, and there was a lot of custom cutting without repetition," Gupta said. "We would have 30 pieces of one size and then 40 pieces of another as well as one-of-a-kind pieces. We actually did another project with the same architect that has 300 different sizes."

In addition to the honed pieces, the project also called for some rough-faced pieces, which were cleft on all sides and installed in random lengths to give a textured look. Overall, the project included 10,000 square feet of stone.

As the U.S. office of TAB India, Amsum & Ash was heavily involved in the stone specification. "We worked directly with architects and dis-tributors," Gupta said. "The first samples that they saw had a lot of white and gray spots, which they thought was first quality. But we actually found stones without any spots."

The architects and stone supplier established an acceptable color range, and a strict quality control program was implemented at the factory in India to ensure that the stones shipped to the U.S. would meet this range.

Due to the many different pieces used for the project, the shipments had to be well coordinated, with a detailed packing list and markings on the stone to indicate its position in the final application. The majority of the stone was shipped within 30 to 45 days, and the project was completed on schedule earlier this year.

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