The Official Publication
of the Mason Contractors
Association of America
Indiana Limestone: A Natural Wonder
How and why calcium carbonate, deposited over millions of years as marine fossils decomposed at the bottom of the sea, play a role in American architecture
What do some of the most prestigious works of American architecture, namely the Empire State Building, the Pentagon, and the Washington National Cathedral have in common? They all were built with natural Indiana limestone from Indiana Limestone Co., as were 35 of 50 state capitol buildings. With more than a century of monumental projects to showcase the beauty and durability of this natural stone, Indiana limestone continues to be used and desired in today’s architecture. Indiana limestone can be found on all sizes and types of buildings, from convention centers to college campuses, from New York City high rises to local high schools, and from residences to monuments across the country.
Indiana limestone provides innovative design solutions for architects and designers, and has a long kinship as the mason’s friend, since it’s a durable, natural stone that’s readily available and easy to work in the field. As a natural stone, Indiana limestone provides beauty, durability, versatility, and ease-of-maintenance to every project, big or small. Technological advances in both quarrying and fabrication have made the material more affordable than ever.
300 million years in the making
While early pioneer settlers used some Indiana limestone for foundations, door sills and memorial markers, the earliest quarry on record opened in 1827. Railroads came through the area in mid-19th century, expanding the market and increasing demand. After extensive fires in Chicago and Boston, Indiana limestone showed its durability, which again increased demand. By 1929, at the height of architecture utilizing American natural stone, Indiana limestone accounted for 12 million cubic feet of dimension stone used.
How it stacks up
Indiana limestone is classified by the Indiana Limestone Institute into two colors and four grades. Colors are buff and gray, though color options are available in more subtle variations to match most every project need.
For instance, Indiana Limestone Co., through its different quarries, also offers Full Color Blend, a natural compilation of the full range of buff to light gray shades with subtle veining; Silver Buff, a buff color with subtle silver colored veining in the foreground; and Variegated, an unselected mixture of buff and gray tones with a wide range of grain structure and veining (it’s also a grade).
Grade classifications for Indiana limestone are based on the degree of fineness of the grain particles and other natural characteristics that make up the stone. The structural soundness of each grade of Indiana limestone is, essentially, identical.
When specifying Indiana limestone, it is necessary to identify the color and grade required, as well as the surface finish to be applied to the stone. It is recommended that all stone for a project be furnished by a single quarry for the best color control. Indiana Limestone Institute notes that large-scale samples, including sample walls (mock-ups) complete with connections and joint closures, can be helpful in selecting stone color and quality. These sample wall constructions should be pre-planned and included in bid specifications, where their additional expense is warranted.
Indiana limestone has the following sustainability features:
Low Lifecycle costs. Indiana limestone is virtually maintenance free. It requires only occasional re-pointing of stone joints and cleaning, if desired. With minimal care, Indiana limestone projects will serve present and future generations for many years to come.
Reusable/recyclable. It is common in restoration projects involving Indiana limestone that the majority of the original stone remains in place for continued use, once the restoration work is completed. Indiana limestone also can be taken from one project and re-used as elements in another building, for landscape stones, perimeter walls, or even as site fill. It’s completely inert; Indiana limestone came from nature and can go back to same.
Environmentally friendly production processes. Since the first organized Indiana limestone quarry opened in 1827, Indiana limestone has been in constant use, making an impact on American architecture. Projects utilizing Indiana limestone, many of which are up to 100 years old, exist in every American city, in many small towns and villages, in Canada, and in every type of atmosphere. Though found in only three Indiana counties, it is estimated that with current production methods, a 500- to 1000-year supply of stone remains.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 31 October 2010 22:43|