Training News

IMI Brings BAC’s Role in Residential Construction Home

Journal: Issue 3 - 2006

The Residential Masonry Expo introduced designers to AAC, a material of particular interest to multifamily housing designers. Here, Adrian Smith, AIA, (right) Consulting Design Partner with Skidmore, Owings, Merrill, gets a close look with the help of IMI’s Scott Conwell.

IMI is helping BAC expand its share of the residential market by showing designers, builders and building inspectors the critical difference that skilled union training makes through its Residential Masonry Expo series.

The first Expo, held in Chicago in May, attracted more than 200 architects, builders, contractors, and code officials to the Illinois District Council Training Center.

The packed agenda included eight seminars on a diverse cross-section of the residential masonry market, from “Masonry Veneers and the International Building Code” to “AAC in Multifamily Housing,” plus breakout sessions on Brick, Flashing, Concrete Masonry, and Stone. “The seminars were top-notch,” says Steven D. Tetens, Design & Construction Manager for Ardmin Properties Development Group, Inc. and a board member of AIA Northeast Illinois. “I was impressed.”

Still, true to form, when BAC bricklayers took center stage, the hands-on demonstrations were the top crowd-pleasers. That is especially true with desk-bound architects. “It’s a learning experience to handle a trowel and mortar,” said one attendee.

“The full scale mockups of correctly and incorrectly built fireplaces were excellent visual aids,” says architect John Birazzi of Booth Hansen.

The building inspectors “were all extremely interested to observe the proper way that masonry needs to be constructed,” says IU Regional Director for the North Central Henry F. Kramer. “You could hear many of the inspectors remark to one another that they liked a particular method or technique demonstrated, and that they were going to establish that practice when they get back.”

Residential Program on the Road

IMI is taking its Residential program on the road. In September, IMI will present the Residential Masonry Construction seminar at the New York State Building Officials Conference in Niagara, N.Y. For details, contact Gene Abbate,

Next stop for the Residential Masonry Expo is the Northern Ohio Administrative District Council/IMI Training Center. The center’s two-sided house has “right” and “wrong” mockups all ready for the show. For details, contact Tom Nagy,

Making that connection back to the jobsite is the point, notes NOADC Director Bob Fozio. “I don’t think many [inspectors] have specific expertise with masonry, and they think of brickwork as aesthetics. The Expo brought in a new audience and showed them our ability to train.” Fozio agrees that showing mockups with right and wrong construction can be far more effective than written material. “You gain mountains of rapport,” he says, by showing the difference between skilled and unskilled work. Now, he notes, “the building officials know what to look for.”

Another popular presentation, particularly among multifamily housing designers, was the one on lightweight Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) firewalls. AAC’s fire rating of one hour per inch of thickness (according to UL tests) lets high rise designers achieve four hour walls with a thinner profile, while keeping costs down and providing more durability than gypsum board firewalls and demising walls.

The program was a collaboration between IMI, Illinois District Council 1, and the Illinois District Council Training Center. Other industry partners were the AIA Northeastern Illinois chapter, the Brick Industry Association, and the Illinois Concrete Products Association.

Through popular programs like this, IMI will continue to shine a spotlight on skilled BAC craftworkers and their important role in the construction of well-built masonry homes.


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