This past weekend, I returned from the CarraraMarmotec stone trade fair, which takes place every other year in the historic stoneworking center of Carrara, Italy -- the same region where Michelangelo selected White Carrara marble for some of his most famous works. The event is not only a stone industry exhibition, as it also incorporates a range of events and initiatives to bridge stone producers with the architecture and design community.

Among these events, the Marble Architectural Awards were presented to major works using natural stone from Italy. Top honors were presented for the Oslo Opera House in Norway, designed by the architectural firm Snøhetta AS of Oslo. This project utilized White Carrara marble in a range of different formats and finishes, and the completed facility has bolstered Oslo's cultural status on an international level.
The Marble Architectural Awards also honored Richard Meier and Partners, LLP, for its design of the Museo dell'Ara Pacis in Rome, Italy, which utilizes Roman travertine as a primary building element. The material, which was also used for Richard Meier's design of the J. Paul Getty Center, was quarried and processed near Rome.

With a nod towards the Carrara region's long-standing tradition of sculpture, the event also featured an exhibition of works from several area studios, and many of the pieces were crafted from local marble.

Also celebrating the craft of stoneworking, CarraraMarmotec included an exhibition of furnishings designed by Angelo Mangiarotti, the renowned architect and industry designer from Milan. Consistent with the overall theme of the event, these works were created over the past several decades from White Carrara marble.

Industry developments

Beyond the trade fair itself, the stone producers in the Carrara region are continually upgrading their operations, and they are doing so with an eye on better serving the architectural community. One example of this can be found at the Campolonghi Group, which has supplied architectural stonework for countless landmark projects around the world. The company has not only upgraded its equipment with a range of machinery specifically designed for architectural stonework, but it has also developed a massive staging area where projects can be dry-laid to ensure that the finished project matches the architect's vision. Campolonghi also recently opened a unique "Center for Search and Innovation" as a working laboratory to help educate architects on what can be done with stone using today's latest technology and methods.

CarraraMarmotec also featured an exhibition of stone furnishings designed by Angelo Mangiarotti, the renowned architect and industry designer from Milan.