Limestone Cladding Details

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Architects: Showcase your next project through Architizer and sign up for our inspirational newsletter. Recently, when asked about the appeal of limestone architecture, Robert A.M. Stern, the former Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, simply stated: “Limestone buildings look solid. They don’t look like buildings you can open with a can opener.” It was a biting but accurate critique of modern construction practices which favor inexpensive façade coverings over more enduring options like natural stone.


Our reliance on these impermanent materials is the reason that today’s buildings have an average lifespan of just 30 years, whereas some ancient edifices have remained standing for centuries.

Simple care and maintenance

The good news is that innovative manufacturing and cladding techniques have greatly reduced the costs and hassles associated with stone construction, once again making limestone a viable option for architects.

Mcdonald St. Paul Hotel – Sheffield, England

These stunning façades, clad in thin blocks of real limestone, are built to stand the test of time, but at a fraction of the price. Photo by Danica O. Kus; via ArchDaily. Valletta City Gate by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Valletta, Malta.

Bell Canada – Montreal, Quebec

Stone cladding by CFF Filiberti. Built as part of the redevelopment of Valletta, Malta’s capital city, this project juxtaposes massive façades of stone with a delicate structure of steel and glass.

911 Museum – New York, NY

Pedestrians enter the complex across a steel bridge, which passes through two man-made cliffs of limestone.


From there, they may enter an open-air theater, built within the ruins of an ancient opera house, or continue on into the new Parliament building.

Royal British Columbia Museum – Victoria, British Columbia

The Parliament building’s façades are clad in Maltese limestone sourced from local quarries. The architects, inspired by the weathering of natural stone, carved angular louvers into the cladding using special CNC milling machines.

Digital Media Centre – Barnsley, England

As they put it, the stone “has been sculpted, as though eroded by the direction of the sun and the views around it, creating a fully functional device that filters solar radiation.” The resulting façades are dynamic and monumental, simultaneously harmonizing and contrasting with the surrounding architecture.

Niswonger Children’s Hospital – Johnson City, TN

Installation of the limestone cladding; photo via Stone World. Museum of Liverpool by 3XN, Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Resistance to fire and heat

Stone cladding by VM Kaldorf. The Museum of Liverpool is the largest museum erected in the United Kingdom in over a century. Located on a prominent waterfront site, the building was designed to be both a compendium of the area’s rich history and a pronouncement to the world that Liverpool intends to become a global cultural leader.

Silver Star Casino – Philadelphia, MS

As such, the façades feature an interesting combination of contemporary and traditional construction techniques.


The exterior of the museum is clad in a light beige Jura limestone. The wedge-shaped pieces were fabricated offsite and then affixed to angled steel trusses, creating a 3D pattern that gives depth to the façade. The surface of the cladding was then treated with a traditional kratzschliff, or scratched finish, to further enhance the play of light and shadow on the stone. MORA Residential Building by ADN Birou de Arhitectura, Bucharest, Romania.