(May 2009) Train Stations as airports are preferentially built using natural stone, and are due for refurbishment in many cities in the USA during the course of the next few years. President Obama earmarked 8 billion dollars for 10 high-speed railway corridors. In addition there is an earmarked 1 billion dollars to be spent spread over five years (1, 2). 1.3 billion are set aside for airports and related buildings.

Getting the end-products closer to the consumer is the aim of the stone branch to be accomplished by increased participation at industrial and home design fairs. This year the Italian organization Confindustria Marmomacchine is supporting the „New Stone Age Design“ show, taking place a the Saie fair end of October in Bologna (Italian). It is often criticized that exhibitors at traditional stone trade fairs get to see only their competitors.

Local Quarzite from the Valsertal is the main material in Peter Zumthor’s Vals Thermal Bath (1, 2, French video). The Swiss architect was awarded this year’s Pritzker-Prize, touted as the branch’s Nobelprize.

In Poland the fight is on for the position of first natural stone fair: the newcomer „Stone“ situated in the industrial city of Poznan scheduled this year’s fair (November 4th to 7th 2009) to coincide with the old „Kamien“ in Wroclaw (November 5th to 8th 2009). Last year still the Poznan fair called itself „Glass and Stone“.

The Sultanate of Oman in the Persian Gulf is enjoying a sustained building boom. A Webpage shows the most important construction projects.

Sculptors’ symposium. The town of Bergen in Alberta, Canada is home to the „Bergen Rocks“ Symposium form July 15th to August 15th. Information on the 2008 event, and on this year’s event by Morton Burke (Mail). Trondheim, Norway will be home to a stone festival from July 17th to 19th. Stonemasons, apprentices or young professionals and „anyone able to wield hammer and chisel“ may attend, as can be seen on the website (www.steinfestival.no). In contrast, only professional stonemasons and stone sculptors may attend the Stein-Festival in Salzburg to be held in Austria form July 3rd to 5th. „Sea, sky, and unlimited Stone“ could be the motto of the sculptors workshops for beginners and experts under the auspices of the Portland Quarry Trust from May to September on the isle of Portland off the English Channel coast.