Across University Avenue in St. Paul, just north of the State Capitol, the finishing touches have been put on the exterior siding of the new Minnesota Senate Building. The use of quarried limestone and architectural concrete that make up the building’s walls, along with other construction materials, are meant by designers to show respect for some of the visions of original Capitol architect Cass Gilbert and to pay homage to other buildings on the Capitol complex.
Removing the Limestone from the Mankato area quarry required six weeks of blasting, cutting and drilling. According to Quarry Manager Don Vetter, of Vetter Stone, “A normal block is either ten foot long or eight foot long, four foot wide and then normal height of about five feet… so, that makes about a twenty ton block.” The massive blocks were staged at the quarry site and delivered to the plant with a front-end loader. Inside the plant the blocks were first cut into two inch slices by a large saw, then cut into smaller pieces according to design specifications.
At the building site, after the stone has been embedded in a concrete precast for added strength, it was installed onto the south side and portions of the east and west sides of the building. The colored architectural concrete wraps around the remainder of the exterior. Together, the two precast elements provide the framework for the newest building on the Capitol landscape.