Originally built in 1931, the Empire State Building, which stands 1,454 feet tall, forms the peak of the captivating skyline of midtown Manhattan. And while the building's Indiana limestone-clad exterior gets most of the attention, its interior also has a broad range of stonework that is continually being updated. The 60 elevator cabs leading to all 102 floors of the building have recently been renovated with Italian marble supplied by Piero Zanella S.R.L., of Verona, Italy.

The new wall cladding within the elevators is comprised primarily of Fior di Pesco and Rosso Levanto marble. The stone has been affixed to aluminum honeycomb panels, making them lighter in weight and thus more suitable to use in elevators. The Fior di Pesco marble slabs are book-matched, creating a dramatic effect. Moreover, they are inlaid with Rosso Levanto marble that was intricately cut to form the silhouette of the Empire State Building's signature exterior form. “[This was] an extraordinary job; an example of the ability to use stone in places where one would hardly think to use it,” said Sergio Miglioranzi, managing director of Zanella, in reference to the project that took about one year to complete. Most of the large panels of Fior di Pesco stand 80 inches high and are 1⁄4 inch thick, set on aluminum honeycomb backing.

Miglioranzi said that the combination of marble, aluminum, epoxy resin and wood made the project complex. “Thanks to the [thin dimensions and light weight of the marble], it gives many advantages and opportunities,” he said. “However, it requires a great technical knowledge of the materials as well as a high level of technical skill in their applications.”

Miglioranzi added that Zanella has fabricated thin, aluminum-backed stone panels for other weight-sensitive applications, such as cruise ships. “Our company has always cooperated with companies in the technology sector,” he said.

All of stone for the cabs was produced according to a strict fabrication schedule. About a dozen people from Zanella were involved with the fabrication of the pieces, along with many people from the National Elevator Cab & Door in New York, the installer.

Miglioranzi said that all of the companies involved in the Empire State Building project were skillful in their specific field, and that overall cooperation was excellent. “Atlantic Stone and Flooring played the coordination role, and National Elevator Cab & Door took care of the installation,” he said. “If the project has been a success, it is thanks to them. All things considered, I think that the teamwork always gets rewarded.”

Management for the Empire State Building also expressed their pleasure with the completed project, stating that “the millions of visitors who come to our building every year will enjoy the quality of [the stonework.]”