CWC is passionate about the stone that beautifies entrance lobbies at Canary Wharf. It has to be of the highest quality and installed with the utmost care

Barry Turner is the man in charge of the wow factor at Canary Wharf. His job is to ensure all the stonework on the floors and walls in the entrance lobbies is perfect, as well as to oversee the selection and installation of the glass, veneers, stainless steel fittings and architectural ironmongery so they blend with the stone to stamp an air of quality whenever people enter a building.

It is a responsibility that Turner takes personally. “The lobbies are like my lounge. I want them to look perfect.”

He has worked at Canary Wharf for almost 15 years and has been involved on many of its buildings, taking responsibility not only for the entrance lobbies, but also for lift lobbies and the toilet fit-out.

He says: “I am passionate about stone. It is a job that I love. When you go and talk to Italian stone suppliers, their hearts are in it too and you just want everything that comes out of the quarry to look like the best stone in the world.”

The selection process starts with the architect and Canary Wharf personnel, including chief executive George Iacobescu, deciding which varieties of stone would best suit the building. These are then presented to the prospective tenant for approval.

Once a decision is made, Turner works with the architect to start looking for suitable suppliers and submit three or four samples for final approval.

It is a painstaking process that involves numerous visits to quarries to select the blocks and return visits after the blocks have been cut into slabs to mark out the areas on the slabs that meet the required specification. Areas that contain imperfections or inclusions are rejected, as are those where the colour, texture or “vein” pattern doesn’t match the desired appearance.

When all the slabs have been cut to size, they are laid out to replicate how they will be installed on the floors and walls of the lobbies. Turner will then visit the supplier for a final inspection to check the stone meets all the criteria on dimensional tolerances, finish quality and appearance. To make sure everything is just so, he doesn’t rely only on viewing the stone at ground level, but commandeers a “cherry-picker” aerial platform to take a lofty view of all the pieces.

All the slabs have their layout coded so they can be installed in exactly the same position as agreed during the inspection.

Quality control

Such meticulous care can mean there is a lot of materials rejection before a consignment gets approval. “Rejection can be anywhere between 30% and 100% depending on the type of stone,” explains Turner.

“All our marble suppliers say we are very, very hard taskmasters. But we pay for the best and it’s my job to make sure that that’s what we get.”

This is evident in the cutting tolerance of only +/-0.5 mm that is prescribed for 600 mm2 slabs. “Most other people are happy with a tolerance of +/-2 mm, but you end up with tramlines after the slabs are laid.”

The same tight control is evident in the permitted size of joints. “On most buildings elsewhere, you will see 4 mm, 6 mm or even 8 mm joints on the walls. We go for 1 mm or 1.5 mm joints, depending on the material. For the floors, we go for 2 mm. It’s not the easy option but when it’s finished, it screams quality. When George [Iacobescu] comes on his inspection, I know that he knows that I have done a good job because I am proud of what I do.”