Twice now, doctors at UCLA Medical Center accept adored the activity of Carlo Mariotti. The 76-year-old Italian has thanked them in a way few others could: with added than 3 actor pounds of putty-colored travertine.
When architects went analytic for the appropriate bean to accouter the new UCLA hospital, Mariotti served up 15,000 bean panels from his family’s quarry in Tivoli, Italy. To assure the contract, Mariotti aboriginal affected his amount afterwards any profit, again donated $1 actor of the cost.
Construction workers are still applicable out the high-tech operating and accommodating apartment in the massive ability advised by Pei Partnership Architects. But the travertine already encases the alfresco walls, abacus one added anatomy to the all-around account featuring Mariotti masonry, including Chicago’s Sears Tower, New York’s Lincoln Center, Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall and Getty Center, and Beijing’s new Bank of China headquarters.
The new $900-million UCLA hospital — appointed to accessible in 2005 as the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center — ability abridgement the ball of cloud-piercing building address Mariotti bean in Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur, but it holds a appropriate abode in Mariotti’s big heart. Afterwards aggressive blight for 14 years, he feels advantageous to be animate to see it.
“You accept in advanced of you an animate asleep guy,” the beholden accommodating said beforehand this year on a appointment to the architectonics armpit at the campus’ southern end.
A blithe dumpling of a man, with flyaway wisps of white beard and ablaze eyes, Mariotti has formed with a who’s who account of architects and alleged abounding of them friends: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Gehry, Minoru Yamasaki, Philip Johnson.
Mariotti abutting the ancestors business 57 years ago, admitting as a boy he advised piano in Parma beneath Giuseppe Verdi, a nephew of the opera artisan of the aforementioned name. “It was the alone abode I could smoke,” Mariotti recalled. “I didn’t apprentice annihilation about the piano.”
He allotment periodically to Los Angeles, but lives with his wife, Titti, at the ancestors alcazar abreast Rome — or as he says, savoring the word, Rrrroma. Appropriately, the abode opens assimilate clandestine area with a moss-shrouded allocation of an age-old aqueduct.
Stone from Mariotti & Figli — now run by Mariotti’s four offspring, the fourth bearing — has helped accord array of barrio their characteristic looks, central and out. Yet, alfresco architectonics circles and Italy, few bodies apperceive his name — which would assume an adverse oversight. Abounding architects and industry writers appearance Mariotti as conceivably the best bean artisan of his time. He has the adroitness for selecting aloof the appropriate bean to abate a building’s modernist bend or enhance its classicism.
“The travertine that comes from the Mariotti quarry is bigger than or at atomic as acceptable as any in the world,” said Franz Schulze, an architectonics columnist who wrote two eponymous coffee-table books on the Mariotti business.
Bruce Graham, artist of the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center, additionally in Chicago, accustomed Mariotti with authoritative Roman bean a accoutrement of U.S. architectonics starting in the 1950s, afterwards a continued pre-World War II aeon back “we absent blow with the concepts of abidingness and abiding values.”
Mariotti was one of the aboriginal to use machines to about-face out ample quantities of what had been primarily a hand-crafted product, Graham wrote in an addition to the aboriginal “Mariotti” book.
Copious amounts were absolutely alleged for in the Getty project, which, Mariotti said, appropriate abundant travertine to body addition Roman Colosseum — and sparked some annoyed back-and-forth with artist Richard Meier.
As Meier was gluttonous an exoteric bean in 1990, Mariotti was at UCLA Medical Center, convalescent from anaplasty for his aboriginal cancer, sarcoma.
“I’d like to be circuitous if the blight lets me be alive,” he recalled cogent Meier.
Meier — accepted for sharp-edged, stark-white designs but beneath orders to use primarily bean for the Getty — was abrogation no bean unturned in his adventure for the absolute cladding to blanket the buildings, because Canadian granite, Indian red sandstone, French limestone and abounding others.
Mariotti apprenticed Meier to accede travertine, but the artist absolved the bean as too bland.
Meier told Mariotti: “I’m the architect.” Mariotti retorted: “But I’m the marble man.” That aboriginal meeting, Mariotti recalled, “was terrible.”
Mariotti’s six-month accretion from the sarcoma, meanwhile, had accustomed him time to devise a guillotine-like apparatus (“It makes the French Revolution attending like nothing”) that breach blocks forth their bedding planes. The address created the asperous accomplishment Meier wanted, with an abrupt bonus: It appear abounding added fossils — leaves, accoutrement and shells — than would be apparent in accustomed banded, able travertine.
When the Getty circuitous opened in December 1997, architectural reviews were mixed, but the bean got mostly aerial marks. To this day, visitors assume accountable to trace the outlines of the fossils with their fingers.
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