Stone World

Remembering limestone

March 14, 2007

Back in January, I traveled to Austin, TX, to visit a friend of mine (and to get a little work done). When I got off the plane, the business portion of my trip started pretty much as usual. I visited a granite countertop fabricator in the area and talked about the CNC machinery, bridge saws, edging machines, etc. they use in their day-to-day operations. I took some photos of their equipment in action, looked at some finished countertops and called it a day. It was the continuation of our magazine’s goal and mission to provide our readers with “real life” examples of the stone fabrication sector, providing practical information on countertop production in the field.

But once I arrived in downtown Austin, however, a very interesting thing happened - and it briefly took me away from the granite countertop sector. As I drove into the city, it seemed that one could find a range of traditional and contemporary limestone architecture on every street corner. From corporate offices to the campus of the University of Texas to the local La Quinta Inn, limestone was woven into the fabric of the town. As a self-professed “stone geek,” I was intrigued that even relatively low-budget enterprises like Taco Bell used limestone on their exterior (and I mean “real” limestone; not the fake stuff).

And in the high-end corporate sector, the offices of firms such as Dell, Intel and others also chose to clad their buildings with native limestone. Right in downtown Austin, the earthy folks at Whole Foods clad their new headquarters/flagship store in Texas limestone, and I couldn’t resist taking a few photos for the magazine (see page 178).

Ultimately, my trip to Texas took north of the Austin city limits to the “Georgetown Formation” of limestone, where I visited with one of the producers in the region (see page 38). It was, I’m ashamed to admit, my first visit to a Texas limestone producer in 14 years here at Stone World.

When I came home from Texas, I did a little inquiry with my staff as to whether we were pursuing any limestone projects, and it turns out that we had a neat little collection brewing. Thus, we declared a “Designing with Limestone” focus for this edition, and in addition to the projects using Texas limestone (pages 172, 178 and 184), we have buildings using material from Portugal (page 152) and Minnesota (page 160). You can also see a full-page example of Texas limestone in our Stone of the Month feature (234).

Our coverage of limestone will continue in the near future as well as over the long term. Yesterday, I met with an old architect friend of mine in New York, whose firm recently completed the Texas limestone-clad Frisco City Hall and was also working on several other limestone projects. You will see these projects - and many other limestone buildings - in future issues of the magazine.

And while Stone World will always bring you the latest advances and case studies in the countertop fabrication sector, it is also gratifying to see and report on developments in other sectors of our industry.