Stone+tec 2005 was held from Wednesday, May 25 to Saturday, May 28 at the Exhibition Centre Nürnberg in Nuremberg, Germany. And to the delight of the show's organizer, the exhibition received the anticipated number of visitors, making it a success.

This was the 14th edition of the event, which was started in 1979 and takes place every two years. Stone+tec 2005 drew 1,058 exhibiting companies and a crowd of more than 40,000 visitors. Of the exhibitors, 68% hailed from 49 foreign nations. The figures for exhibitors and visitors are checked and certified by the Society for Voluntary and Independent Control of Fair and Exhibition Statistics (FKM) of Berlin, reported the show's organizer.

"In contrast to most other building exhibitions in Europe, Stone+tec has had a large share of international exhibitors for years," stated Bernd A. Diederichs, managing director of NürnbergMesse, the show's organizer. "This is because natural stone differs from other building materials in that it is traded on a worldwide basis -- and more than ever before."

Italy, the People's Republic of China and Turkey ranked among the leading exhibiting countries at the show. In particular, it was noticeable that there was a significant increase in the number of companies from aspiring exporting countries such as Turkey and China on the exhibition floor. And during the four days of the show, it was evident that these exhibitors drew a significant amount of visitors. As for attendees, statistics show a rise in the number of people coming from the new European Union-member states in Eastern and Central Eastern Europe, where economic growth is considered high.

The show's success is also being attributed to the change in its cycle, which began one day earlier this year, with intentions of more evenly distributed attendance numbers throughout the four-day event. NürnbergMesse believed that the attendance would be better distributed over the four days of the exhibition, as the Sunday traditionally attracted the fewest visitors. In addition, the first day of the exhibition was now no longer a public holiday, but a Wednesday, which was a full working day.

"Moving the running time forward by a day has proved its worth right from the start," stated Walter Hufnagel, member of the management board of NürnbergMesse. "The Wednesday has taken the place of the Sunday in numerical terms, and the attendance on this new opening day was marked by a large international share and a high degree of authority. The following three days of the exhibition were also as convincing as usual in terms of both quality and quantity."

With Stone+tec 2005 receiving strong attendance on the last day, exhibitors also left with a better perception of the show. "We had better quality on Wednesday than we have had on Sundays in the past," said Guido Welk, also of NürnbergMesse. "[Exhibitors] went home with a feeling that it was a good show," he said.

Quality business

Many exhibitors reported that they not only received a strong number of visitors, but more importantly, they were quality attendees. A total of 80% of exhibiting companies stated that they anticipate follow-up business as well as receiving direct sales during the exhibition.

According to NürnbergMesse, the success of exhibitors is a good sign given the current declining economic situation throughout the building industry in Central Europe. And although the building industry is not expected to fully recover soon, NürnbergMesse reports a positive overall trend for natural stone.

The exhibit space featured a wide range of natural stone products for both interior and exterior applications. Among the products on display were an assortment of tiles, slabs, decorative trim pieces and mosaics -- available in a number of sizes and finishes. Additionally, the newest products for maintenance, preservation and restoration of natural stone were showcased, and exhibitors even performed live demonstrations to illustrate the capabilities of their products. Moreover, large-scale fabricating and quarrying equipment was predominantly placed on the display area, where visitors could witness their performance and function.

Honoring excellence

Stone+tec 2005 also included the presentation of two awards that paid tribute to the importance of natural stone in contemporary architecture and in the preservation of historic buildings. These ceremonies were the German Natural Stone Award, which was presented by the Deutscher Naturwerkstein-Verband in cooperation with the Bund Deutscher Architekten BDA, and the Peter Parler Award, which was given by the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz and the Bundesinnungsverband des Deutschen Steinmetz-, Stein- und Holzbildhauerhandwerks.

The German Natural Stone Award -- presented this year for the 12th time -- was held on Friday, May 27. It is a recognized architecture prize worth a total of 30,000 euros ($38,000 U.S.). This year's jury, chaired by BDA President Kaspar Kraemer of Cologne, awarded two first prizes in different categories for the first time.

The winner in the category of "private and commercial properties of natural stone" was the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Apartment Tower Berlin, designed by architects Hilmer & Sattler and Albrecht, Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH, Berlin. In the category of "public and cultural projects of natural stone," the winner was U.S. architect I.M. Pei of New York for the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin.

Another highlight at Stone+tec 2005 was the presentation of The Peter Parler Award, which was for the fourth time. The award, which was worth 15,000 euros ($19,000 U.S.) and donated by the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz, recognizes exemplary achievements by stonemasons in the preservation of historic buildings and monuments, such as high-quality work on registered buildings made of natural stone. The categories include conservation, craft restoration, creativity and material texture.

Peter Parler was the chief master of the Parlers, a widely dispersed family of architects and sculptors in the 14th century. The award bears his name in recognition of the influence of this architect throughout Europe. The award is given to bring public awareness of the fact that stonemasons contribute towards the maintenance and preservation of the national heritage, and as a result, improve the standing of the stonemasonry trade. Internally, the competition and presentation is intended to encourage stonemasons to become more involved in the preservation of historic buildings and monuments, and to apply principles and quality standards applicable to official preservation work.

The next edition of Stone+tec is scheduled to take place at the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg from Wednesday, June 6 to Saturday, June 9, 2007. For more information about the event, visit the show's Web site at