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Big Stan Losing Marble, Getting Granite Facelift

March 8, 1989 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) _ Big Stan is losing his marble.

The white Italian marble sheathing the outside of the 80-story Amoco Corp. headquarters, dubbed Big Stan when the 100-year-old company was known as Standard Oil of Indiana, has loosened over the years.

So the 43,000 marble panels on the Amoco Building will be replaced with granite during a facelift that begins next month and could cost up to $80 million before its completion in three years, said Shelby C. Pierce, manager of engineering for Amoco.

Stainless steel strapping was installed last year to hold the 350-pound marble panels in place. Several have fallen from the downtown lakefront skyscraper since 1973, even before its 1975 opening. In 1974, a winter storm brought down a slab that demolished a car.

″We decided to bite the bullet rather than continue forever on a maintenance program,″ Pierce said Monday of the replacement project. ’We decided to get it over with.″

The replacement granite has a salt-and-pepper look up close, but will be whiter than the marble when viewed from afar, he said.

At 1,136 feet, the structure was the fourth tallest in the world when it was completed. It’s still the tallest marble-faced building anywhere. But not for long.

Many Chicago artists and architects are ready for the change.

″Carrara marble, which is what’s on the building, is beautiful,″ says architect Walter Netsch. ″Michelangelo used it. But Michelangelo didn’t leave his work outside.

The marble was hauled from near Carrara in north-central Italy at the direction of John Swearingen, then company chairman, and his socially prominent wife, Bonnie.

Now the company says it was a blunder to use the marble, which has badly deteriorated over the past two decades.

The old marble cannot be reused in building construction and no decision has been made about what to do with it.

The granite will come from a quarry in Mt. Airy, N.C.

″This granite is very strong and stable,″ said Pierce. ″I wanted to make sure that 15 years from now someone doesn’t have to go through what I’m going through.″