It surrounds us, it is in the landscape and it is one of the most common forms of matter on this planet. Stone, in its variety of forms, colors and properties, has been a core element since the dawn of man. From early tools and cave dwellings to precision diamond bits, we humans have embraced this material as a key part of our lives. Ranging in composition light enough to float on water to density nearly three times that of water, in specific mass alone, there is wide variation. Most commonly, however, this substance exists in the range of 2400 to 3200 kilograms per cubic meter. Density, alone, however a common thread for most stone used in construction, belies the myriad of characteristics that set it apart.
Considering the factors of weight, density, hardness, porosity, chemical resistance, color, and heat conduction, as well as geographic location, compressive strength and workability, it’s most common location alone determines if and where a stone type will be used in construction. Within any geographic location, the range of stone types available are typically limited to a single type of sedimentary and metamorphic rock with an underlying or alternately exposed bed or igneous rock. Above all, sedimentary remains king and dominates the landscape 4 to 1. Approximately ten percent of sedimentary rock is limestone. Composed primarily of calcium carbonate, CaCO3, limestone has made its place in architectural history. It is at this point that we look more closely at this material in contemporary American architecture.
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