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Stanton Moor sandstone from Derbyshire went to Stone Panels in America to be applied to an aluminium honeycomb backing and reduced to 8mm thickness to create the lightweight cladding that has been used in conjunction with Protec lightweight steel framing, structural glass and metal decoration to create a new landmark building, the Macdonald St Paul’s Hotel, in the centre of Sheffield.

Lightweight aluminium honeycomb panels faced with ultra-thin Stanton Moor sandstone fixed on a light-weight steel frame. That’s the solution used to satisfy planners’ and architects’ desire to use the local stone for the new 15,000m2, 156-bed Macdonald St Paul’s Hotel sandwiched between the modern Winter Garden and the Grade I listed late 19thcentury Town Hall in the centre of Sheffield.

It was a solution achieved by Brickworks UK Ltd in conjunction with stone specialists Stoneguard, who bought the assets of lightweight steel frame company Protec in Byfleet, Surrey, in 2003. This was the first time the system had been used with lightweight stone panels and the first time the panels had been made using English sandstone.

The stone, quarried in Derbyshire by Stancliffe, made its way across the M1 to Sheffield via Dallas, Texas, where it was sawn into thin section veneer on an aluminium honeycomb backing by Stone Panels, the company that makes the panels and who are represented in the UK by Brick-Works UK Ltd in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

The 70 tonnes of stone were shipped to Stone Panels in three containers as scants 2m x 2.2m at 70mm thick and came back as 1,300 lightweight panels. The majority of them were 932mm x 516mm x 26mm thick and fitted in just one container. The aluminium honeycomb backing makes up most of the thickness of the panels, with the stone at just 8mm.

That provided the external cladding for about 600m2 of the hotel’s walls, with cladding for the project’s 23 columns arriving later. The stone has been used in conjunction with frameless floor-to-ceiling height structural glass and metal features.

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