It isn't every day that a 20-ton slab of rock attracts so much attention -- unless it's the Freedom Stone.
That's the name a Long Island stone company has given to what will become the cornerstone of the soon to be built Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site.
On Independence Day, Pataki will preside over a ceremony to lay the cornerstone at the southeast corner of the building, marking the start of construction on what would be the world's tallest building at 1,776 feet.
Karen Pearse, founder of Innovative, said the 23-year-old company is "sleeping, eating, and breathing" this project, with about two dozen of its 200 employees dedicated to it.
Innovative Stone was selected by the Silverstein organization, the master lease holder of the World Trade Center site. Innovative had worked with a Silverstein executive, David Worsley, when he was with Related Companies building the Time Warner Center, said Janno Lieber, Silverstein's project director. Innovative has also worked on the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas and the Roosevelt Field Mall.
Over the past three weeks, Innovative scoped out various pieces of stone and then sent digital photos and samples to Silverstein, who conferred with the governor. The stone they picked from a quarry in the Adirondacks is a blend of feldspar, quartz, hornblende and garnet, which gives it an appearance of black, gray, with flecks of red and pale green. Garnet happens to be the gemstone of New York State.
Last week, a team from Innovative drilled out the block and transported it about 200 miles to Hauppauge. The raw stone was cut into a rectangular shape at Innovative this week, said Anthony Iorio, the project manager, and will be smoothed and polished Thursday. Innovative has agreed to donate the stone, worth about $14,000.
The stone may not be visible once the building is erected -- it will be four levels below the street -- but that makes no differece to Pearse and Iorio.
"I'm humbled and proud to even have a small part in this," said Pearse, 45.