SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 26 November 2021

A 21st-Century Marble Revival: How Testing and Quality Assurance Can Make Marble a Durable Option for Exterior Cladding


Many prominent 20th-century buildings around the world were clad with marble. Some of them have experienced severe problems with rapidly deteriorating marble panels and accompanying safety issues, such as La Grande Arch de la Defénse in Paris, Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Australia's National Library in Canberra, and the Standard Oil Building in Chicago. The stories of these buildings have attracted great attention around the world and, perhaps unfairly, have created a perception that marble is unsuitable for use as exterior cladding. From the late 1990s, the use of marble as exterior cladding material reduced significantly, and it was even forbidden in some countries, regardless of reference projects. In response to this problem, the European research project Testing and Assessment of Marble and Limestone was initiated. This comprehensive study on marble resulted in test methods to discriminate between marble that is suitable and unsuitable for outdoor use. The most important test is the 2013 European standard EN 16306. One of the remaining obstacles for using marble that this standard identifies as suitable for use as exterior cladding is ensuring the traceability of its characteristics all the way from the quarry through block production and to the final panels installed on the building. With the rise of green building rating systems and CE marking in Europe, there has been increased interest in documenting the full life cycle of building materials and systems to ensure traceability. This paper explores the potential for traceable systems to facilitate integrated quality assurance during marble production. Such an approach would provide confidence that marble panels installed on a building are consistent with the samples originally tested and specified. We outline the detailed elements for quality assurance, from geological mapping of the quarry and tracking of block extraction to the production of panels and installation of the cladding. We also review case studies for several recent exterior marble cladding projects.

Author Information

Schouenborg, Björn
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Built Environment, Borås, SE
Grelk, Bent
Grelk Consult, Brønshøj, DK
West, David
Inhabit, Sydney, AU
Blasi, Paola
Arup, London, GB
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Pages: 185–209
DOI: 10.1520/STP162820200006
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7703-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7702-4