BIM-M Technology

Russ Peterson

Direct Design Launches 3.0

Next Iteration of Structural Software Expands Scope

Imagine the productivity. Model a masonry building, enter a few basic parameters from ASCE 7, then wait for mere seconds while a complete set of structural calculations and drawings are created. Try a different block size and repeat. Multiple stories, rigid diaphragms, high wind speeds and more: All now handled with the latest version of Direct Design. Then in the not-too-distant future, the ultimate in convenience with the ability to import building geometry from an architect’s Revit model.

The new Direct Design Software 3.0 release delivers wider scope, transparent calculations and rapid design. By any measure, this significant step forward will improve the lives of engineers and contractors alike.

The Direct Design Handbook: TMS 403

The Direct Design initiative began in 2010 when The Masonry Society released the first edition of The Direct Design Handbook for Masonry Structures (TMS 403), a streamlined approach to code-compliant masonry designs for relatively simple structures. An engineer could determine a few basic parameters, then use handbook tables to look up required reinforcing patterns and other design details.

A couple years later, software was introduced to automate this. Easy became easier. Not only were the table lookups now automated, but fully-detailed drawings documented the design. Everything a user could want, right?

Almost. The trade-off for such speed and ease was a narrowing of scope. In order to facilitate the tabulated approach in the handbook, the structure was limited to use only 8″ block, #5 rebar, single-story, flexible diaphragms and other constraining factors. Additionally, conservative simplifications were made, and for some scenarios, these would compound and result in an overly-conservative design. The handbook and software were well-received as a concept, but fell short of being practical for everyday use. Users wanted more.

New Strategy

Heeding this call for improvement, the task force behind TMS 403 went back to work. The Direct Design concept was re-thought from the ground up. The table approach, though innovative, was restrictive when trying to expand capabilities. That the method’s primary usage was via software made the efficiency of a tabulated system largely redundant. Software can crank through calculations directly, rather than look up pre-calculated values from tables. For this reason, TMS 403 was re-tooled to be more of a guide for applying streamlined masonry design rather than a specific table-based implementation.

New code provisions were drafted and new algorithms developed. The result was a substantially slimmed-down standard. Removal of tables trimmed much of the book’s content along with limitations. What remains is a guide for those wanting to understand how to cut through the clutter of heavyweight design codes and quickly get to the subset of provisions needed for common structures, as well as a number of shortcuts and conventions to make design more practical while preserving flexibility. The latest edition of the Direct Design Handbook for Masonry Structures (TMS 403-17) is available from The Masonry Society’s website,

Confidence, Speed, Simplicity

The new edition of the handbook will be accompanied by a new release of the associated software package: Direct Design Software (DDS), which will be available at This time, the objectives are to harness the improved ability of the standard and to make it more practitioner-friendly by displaying internal calculations and reasoning that the software goes through. This provides users a tool they can have full confidence in, on top of the speed and simplicity benefits.


The most striking attribute users notice when first running the program is the way it displays actual calculations behind the design, rather than narrating a series of table lookups. This is reflective of the inner workings of the software and the method itself. The design is live rather than retrieving numbers from pre-calculated tables.

By providing calculations, DDS can be used as a training tool for new engineers to check their hand calculations. Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1. Illustration of wind loads applied to structure

Figure 2. Detailed code checks from TMS 402

Equations and logic from ASCE 7, TMS 402 and TMS 403 are shown along with fully-illustrated drawings to provide context. These address one unavoidable liability of the old table-based approach: the lack of transparency and limited ability to verify calculations that were hidden in the tables.

Additionally, this approach removed the need for many restrictions and over-conservative shortcuts necessary to accommodate the tabulated format. The methodology of TMS 403-17 is wide-open and the software has dropped many limitations.

Following is a list of major improvements:

  • Choice of block size (formerly restricted to 8″)
  • Multiple rebar sizes allowed (formerly restricted to #5)
  • Any value of f’m permitted
  • Any value of fy permitted
  • Multi-story structures permitted
  • Rigid and flexible diaphragms permitted
  • Lintel arching action accounted for
  • Wind speeds up to 250 mph permitted
  • Choice of mortar type
  • Checks structural irregularities
  • More accurate snow loads
  • Parapet height no longer limited to 4′

All of these items are fully exposed to view to provide opportunity for the user to scrutinize the calculations and become comfortable with the results. All this without sacrificing the fast, direct aspect of the design. More complex models are now allowed. DDS provides a quick way to produce a code-compliant, fully-documented masonry building design.

Some limitations remain. Neither the software nor the Direct Design concept itself is intended to handle every exotic geometry that an architect might conceive of. Among others, the structure plan layout cannot include curved or diagonal walls and must meet certain other restrictions for the simplified analysis to work. The structure can’t exceed 60′ in height. Certain of the irregularities defined in ASCE 7 (large reentrant corners, for example) can cause problems and may need to be avoided. DDS also does not design the diaphragms; it only distributes the loads.

When the design is finished, the program will produce drawings of the designed walls. Figure 3.

Figure 3. Detailed drawings with bond pattern and reinforcement layout

Getting on Board with BIM: The Revit Interop

By itself, Direct Design Software is a remarkable tool for automating the engineering of masonry. Recognizing the benefit of interoperability between programs, the masonry industry’s BIM-M initiative ( has launched a project to add the ability for the software to import and export digital model information. DDS looks beyond the scope of the structural engineer’s work and considers integration with the larger AEC workflow.

Consider the typical scenario near the beginning of a project. The architect has a model of the structure created. Ideally, one could simply import this model into the engineer’s design software, saving time and reducing error in the process. Similarly, when DDS has completed its design, it would be provided in digital form to those using it downstream. For example, knowing rebar positions is important for mechanical, electrical and other disciplines as they wrestle with where to create wall penetrations through which to run their systems. Direct Design Software will be working to make this vision a reality.

Information Transfer

In recognition that Autodesk Revit is currently the de facto standard for building model exchange, import/export from DDS will target that platform. Information transfer is projected to be as follows:

  • Import Entering building geometry (walls/openings/stories) is generally the most time-consuming portion of the input process. If the information already exists in a Revit model, this can be reduced to a few mouse clicks. Note that a Revit model can contain a structure with any sort of atypical geometry, including things that DDS does not allow (such as diagonal or curved walls) so portions of some models will be filtered. The software will explain why some walls may not have survived the import.
  • Export DDS will also send information back to Revit. For this initial effort, the vision is to export drawing information in the form of schedules or sheets, or possibly both. More extensive detailing information will likely be added in the future.

Collectively, these new enhancements to Direct Design Software give the masonry industry much to be excited about. Version 3.0 is slated for release by the end of 2018, with the Revit interaction portion planned for the months following.

Russ Peterson

Russ Peterson,MSCE, president Ensoltech, in Bozeman MT, is an engineer, software developer and active member of The Masonry Society (TMS). He has been developing structural software for over 20 years, including Direct Design Software and other masonry design software. He has participated in the development of the last several editions of The Masonry Designer’s Guide as well as various other TMS design guides and publications. Ensoltech has been working with the BIM-M initiative on the advancement of masonry modeling technology. Peterson holds MS and BS degrees in Civil Engineering from Montana State University. | 406.582.0252

Optimization Through Structural Masonry

Scott Walkowicz

Structural masonry takes many forms, colors and textures. Taking advantage of masonry's modularity and loadbearing capabilities may be visually stunning and economically responsible.

Awesome! When It Fits

As we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Concrete Masonry Association, it’s a great time to recognize myriad benefits that structural masonry continues to bring to building projects everywhere. Designers, constructors and owners should take advantage of the benefits provided through current application of this time-honored material and wall system. Both cost and schedule improvements occur as better buildings are built when masonry provides structure and envelope.

Where People Sleep

Maybe the biggest concept to explore, when optimizing through masonry, is that of fit. There are certain archetypes where masonry just fits. Use it there! A common descriptor of one archetype well fit to masonry is where people sleep.

Think well aligned floor plans in hotels, apartments, condominium and student residential buildings, senior living facilities, also corrections type facilities. These types of buildings provide the direct opportunity to utilize masonry for not only envelope but structure as well. And not only structure at the perimeter but within the building footprint. Masonry handles both gravity and lateral load resistance very capably. The more walls that are provided, the more economical the construction becomes.

When considering the concept of fit, it is important to acknowledge that there are many other systems competing in the same markets as structural masonry. What is equally important is to recognize that well designed and detailed masonry can provide the most economical initial and long-term cost benefits to projects for which it is a good fit.

The first recommendation is, then, to consider masonry for structuring these types of buildings and then spend a little time developing architectural and structural concepts that maximize bearing and shear wall layouts in plan and continuity in elevation. When that is accomplished, masonry can be counted on to provide the best and most economical solution.

Schedule Advantages

Another aspect to consider is masonry’s fit in construction scheduling. One big aspect to remember is that masonry can be scheduled to quickly follow foundation construction. Other materials and systems typically require production of detailed shop/fabrication drawings and a review period. Fabrication takes significant time prior to delivery and for installation on site.

Masonry handles both gravity and lateral load resistance very capably. The more walls that are provided, the more economical the construction becomes

When masonry structures are conceived to be well scheduled, real projects gain weeks of construction schedule – a great benefit to the project owner for more rapid occupancy and to the constructors through lower general condition costs and quicker mobilization to the next project. While masonry structure is being constructed, the envelope is also being completed. The building construction is not just getting to a roof, but is getting to enclosure where other trades can quickly follow while working in protected spaces without extensive temporary enclosure.


A final aspect of fit to consider is how masonry fits so well with two new structural needs – the need for storm shelter space and the need for resiliency. Masonry has proven capable and cost effective as part of tornado shelter spaces through the inherent strength with only modest increases in the net reinforcement required for many wall and structure types. Today’s masonry also provides great resiliency and inherent redundancy through its use-distributed reinforcement. Damage remains localized while surrounding masonry provides continued structural capacity and enclosure.

The Big Idea – Direct Savings

A second concept to explore, when optimizing through masonry, is that of macro-optimization. This concept would be the big idea kind of things related to structural optimization. Probably the greatest direct savings through masonry can be that of eliminating redundant structure (typically structural steel) when masonry is already being used. Cost analyses have consistently shown savings of at least $5 to $7 /sf, to as much as $10 to $12 /sf or more for per square feet of wall for complete enclosure+structure costs when perimeter steel frames can be eliminated.

Repetitive floor plans allow for aligning and employing multiple walls. This optimizes load paths, minimizes gravity and shear loads and provides resiliency.

A school can easily be built to function as shelter in case of weather emergencies, like tornadoes and other high wind events. Masonry perimeter walls, corridor and partition walls provide both strength and compartmentation economically in familiar repetition for easy way-finding.

Overall project savings can be multiplied when interior walls are converted in addition to exterior walls. An interesting twist on this approach to optimization is that of masonry as a lateral load resisting system. It performs very well in this application through the use of shafts and walls on a project.

A key is to recognize that both the masonry and the foundation designs for lateral elements benefit when a greater number of elements and/or linear feet of masonry wall are utilized. I call it the brute force method – but providing more masonry reduces the amount and possible complication of reinforcement required to provide the required capacity. So, plan to use masonry as structure… and while you’re at it, provide lots of structure to simplify construction and reduce costs!

Small Scale Benefits Add Up for Big Optimization

Modularity. The final concept to explore here is that of micro-optimization. Where we just looked at larger scale concepts, there are also savings to be found in smaller scale project aspects – the details. Don’t forget that masonry is a modular material – standard units laid in mortar. It makes sense, then, to detail masonry buildings in a masonry module both horizontally and vertically. Think about both the masonry walls and other elements and keeping a masonry module. Also think about elements like doors, windows and louvers or even just openings, that are being placed into the masonry assembly. Both the length and height, and the rectification of the elements should fit masonry modules. Avoid odd cuts in masonry! This means things like using 7′-4″ door and window frame head elevations, or 8′-0″ or whatever eliminates the cuts. This may seem like common sense, but if we don’t think about it or take the time to execute it, then costs increase unnecessarily and, unfortunately, some project documents exhibit this costly approach to dimensional layout.

Cost analyses consistently show savings of at least $5 to $7 /sf, to as much as $10 to $12 /sf or more for complete enclosure+structure costs when perimeter steel frames can be eliminated

Lintels. Another aspect of micro-optimization to think about relates to a specific element lintels. Masonry structure is best designed and constructed when masonry lintels are utilized. Unfortunately, many projects are detailed with structural steel lintels rather than masonry lintels. The reality of such a situation is that significant construction delays can occur while detailing, fabrication and delivery of the steel lintels occur. The mason can build masonry lintels and continue working, providing schedule benefits.

Standard grey CMU in much of the country provide strength well in excess of the minimum required due to handling and shipping requirements

Utilizing non-modular layouts or openings results in unnecessary cutting of the masonry units (shown here as shaded). The end product is more difficult to construct, produces more waste, and is more costly compared to a similar structure employing a modular layout. Additionally, placing and consolidating grout in the reduced-size cores of the field-cut units may prove difficult.

Beyond the schedule reality lies detailing and performance detriments associated with steel lintels. They require bearing that interrupts vertical reinforcement, differential movement release that requires complicated detailing. Masonry infill around the structural steel requires challenging anchorage design and installation and localized control or expansion joints that complicate joint layout. These issues more clearly point to the use of masonry lintels.

Conventional masonry lintels have been designed in loadbearing walls with spans of 40′ and more with reasonable reinforcement while providing exemplary deflection control and structural capacity. Typical masonry lintels for larger openings often require falsework or shoring until the masonry and grout cure. Options exist, however, that allow the elimination or minimization of such falsework. There are patented, proprietary pre-assembly approaches, partially reinforced yet groutable precast approaches and many contractors have developed preferred construction methods to do just that – old approaches utilizing current methods and materials are providing rapid and cost-effective construction of masonry lintels over openings.

Strength. The final micro-optimization concept, is that of masonry strength. Design using the proper masonry assembly strength for a geographic area, and then specify it. My point here relates to an observation that, while proper strength specification is improving in recent years, still bears a little emphasis. Don’t just specify and design to an f’m of 1500 psi. For those designing or constructing buildings where the building code is based on the 2015 IBC or later, there isn’t even a code compliance path to an f’m of 1500 psi when using concrete masonry units (CMU) and the unit strength method.

f’m 1900-2000 Minimum. If you haven’t checked out the 2013 edition of TMS 602, Specification for Masonry Structures, (or the 2016 edition) I encourage you to take a look. An ASTM C90 minimum strength CMU (Net Area Compressive Strength of Units must be at least 1900 psi) provides an f’m of 1900 psi compared with former codes when the f’m was 1500 psi. Even the lowest mortar strengths provide a masonry assembly strength greater that 1500 psi. Use Type S mortar for structure or any engineered masonry and then specify an f’m of at least 1900 psi or 2000 psi. Directly related to this discussion is the fact that the standard grey CMU in much of the country provide strength well in excess of the minimum due to handling and shipping requirements. Take a look at your recent projects’ masonry submittals and see if you find CMU strengths approaching or exceeding 3000 psi and the realize savings by looking to f’m values of 2500 psi. You’ll save through less reinforcement, possibly thinner walls, reduced bearing requirements, shorter lap lengths and other aspects of masonry design. Check it out. You’ll like what you find!

New applications and methods for masonry design and construction make it better than ever.

Design the best building while you save time and money when masonry fits.

Scott Walkowicz

Scott Walkowicz, PE, NCEES, is the owner of Walkowicz Consulting Engineers, Lansing, Michigan. He consults with engineers, architects, contractors and owners on behalf of the Masonry and Structural Masonry Coalitions in Michigan, Indiana/ Kentucky, New Jersey and northwest Ohio along with other groups throughout the Midwest. He designs buildings and specialty structures, and conducts structural investigations of existing structures. He holds BS and MS degrees in Civil/Structural Engineering from Clemson University as well as a BS degree in Architecture from Lawrence Technological University.

Walkowicz is a Past President of The Masonry Society (TMS) and is a member of several committees for TMS including Committee 402/602 Building Code Requirements and Specification for Masonry Structures where he participates in revisions to the structural masonry code.

He has analyzed and designed buildings and structural building elements across the US and internationally, including designs with unique and creative uses of structural masonry. 517.339.0314 |


Upon reading the article you will be able to:

1 Gain insight into overall building types suited for masonry as structure

2 Identify changes to code and specifications to CMU strength for creating better project specifications

3 Understand micro and macro design options that provide cost savings

Market Square Tower Skyscraper Begins To Define New Houston Skyline

Mackie Bounds

Definitely unique, Market Square Tower sports two pool decks, one on the second level over the motor court, the other on the 40th level extends eight feet in glass beyond the face of the building. View from pool deck includes the Houston Skyline with a stately parapet of burnished CMU capped with cast stone. Regardless of how many people actually use this noted attraction, it certainly will be the talk of the town.

Market Square has served as Houston’s business hub since its beginnings in 1836. Woodbranch Investments continues to respect its great importance to the city, as they sought to create a monumental building making a fresh masonry statement in the skyline. Above the grand entrance of elegant cast stone surrounding the building, cladding 40 stories is oversize burnished architectural concrete masonry units to resemble stately limestone. Exactly. The exposed natural limestone aggregate catches the sun giving this block a true glimmer.

Every CEO has something he enjoys doing, that enables him to relax and unwind. My relaxing moments are out on the ranch with our cattle. One afternoon while relaxing, I received a phone call from area code 281. Standing in the pasture where we keep the young bulls, I was expecting a phone call from area code 281 concerning the purchase of one of our bulls.

I answered. But this call had nothing to do with bulls. It was Tim Sommer, senior project manager with Harvey Builders, asking me to consider bidding a high-rise residential project in downtown Houston. I quickly told him we we had no manpower in Houston. He informed me that he called because we were referred to him by their Austin TX office. We had just completed the 36-story high-rise 311 Bowie luxury apartment building in Austin with Harvey Builders. They were pleased with this project and how it finished as scheduled. But Houston was nearly 200 miles from our office in Waco and we had no manpower in Houston. That was a 3½ hour drive one way. No one wants to add a 7-hour drive to their work day, nor leave their family for a long term commitment. I mentioned the call to our folks and they quickly gave the same answer.

Two days later I was in the same bull pasture when Tim Sommer called again. This time he stated a little stronger that they really wanted us to bid the project. Even though DE Harvey was a premier contractor who we certainly enjoyed working with in Austin, we simply had no manpower to send that far. My answer once again was No. It was then that he informed me that this building was 42 stories and most likely it would be either stone, burnished block or a combination and it will start at street level and go all the way to the top. I must say he shook me, but I stood by my answer. The next morning I again shared with our folks and they agreed.

What Would It Take?

The very next afternoon I had ridden over to the ranch. The last pasture was the bull pasture. The minute I drove in, my phone rang. Yes, it was persistent Tim Sommer. This time he said “I am sending you plans and I want you to price this”. The next morning, plans arrived and our folks could not believe it when I said, “Give them a price”. I also knew I had to talk to our field to see what we could do. Once our field people saw the scope of this job, they were committed. We all knew this was a building type where Brazos excelled. This would be an opportunity to work with this distinguished architect with a vision to redefine Houston’s skyline with exquisite concrete masonry. An opportunity to work with the new oversize CMU burnished to expose limestone aggregate. A new application for cost-effective concrete masonry. After bidding the project, they just couldn’t help feel deep down that they would love to do this job. We knew that we had a superintendent who could handle this project. But that would require relocation.

This was a new journey and I could hardly wait to reach our new destination: “Floor 42”

We were very excited when Harvey Builders asked us to come down and meet with them and the architect to discuss the project. It was a pleasure just to have the opportunity to be at this table. After leaving, we felt very good about our chances of winning the job. They liked how we pushed the schedule, a system developed from constructing quite a number of high-rise buildings in recent years. We shared the same safety goals. We were able to answer all of their questions. Our biggest challenge would be manpower.

A month later, I was in Gatlinburg TN on a family vacation riding up to the top of the mountain on a chair lift. My phone rang. It was Sommer. This time, a short conversation, but I heard these words, “We are awarding the Market Square project to you.” It was neat that I was on my way to the top of the mountain and I now knew we were going to the top of 42 stories with elegant MASONRY!

Tallest CMU Building in Texas

After careful review of this project, Superintendent Roger Lopez, who had just finished the highrise in Austin, and his two loyal crews of about 30 men agreed to move their families to Houston to embark on this skyscraper that would become the tallest CMU building in Texas. They liked living and working in Houston so much that they have stayed. Brazos Masonry now has dedicated manpower in Houston!

Brazos Masonry CEO Mackie Bounds, talks to his animals, they shared his excitement

42 Stories of Oversize Exquisite Burnished Block

My other thought was how blessed we were to be cladding with more than 100,000 4x16x24 burnished block up 42 floors in downtown Houston. This was a new journey and I could hardly wait to reach our destination: Floor 42.

Jackson & Ryan Architects design intent was to reference the turn of the 19th/20th century urban residential towers in cities like New York and Chicago. Masonry was chosen because of its historical references and to contrast with glass and steel office buildings downtown. Masonry helped identify the tower as a residential property because of its traditional associations.

Burnished block proved to be an outstanding product for this scope due to its pigmented color consistency and water/stain resistance

Ground level masonry required a higher level of detailing because of the immediacy to the pedestrian and to provide a more formal experience for the residents. Cast stone and natural granite were used at the base due to the ability to customize sizes, shapes and profiles that are not available in the burnished block.

Inside the building, strength and durability of nearly 50,000 commodity raw grey CMU surrounds the energy vault, mechanical and electrical rooms to protect them.

Burnished block was a most economical and efficient product to use at the upper floors where work was repetitive. In addition burnished block proved to be an outstanding product for this scope due to its pigmented color consistency and water/stain resistances.

Handsome New CMU

According to Eric Graves, vice president sales at Boral Concrete Products, Houston, “Guy Jackson, principal of Jackson & Ryan Architects, approached us with a can you do question. As Jackson began designing Market Square, with a 40-story residential tower and an Art Deco look from the 1930s, he discussed the possibility of developing an oversize product mimicking limestone. The oversize 16 x 24 veneer could be a very cost effective solution, and very handsome.

Typical floor wall section: Masonry coursed on an 8" module to minimize cuts. Each masonry profile is labeled and keyed to match manufacture's standard module.

Would there be a more cost effective CMU alternative to resemble limestone? Boral’s research and development team created such a product. To enhance its beauty, it was integrally pigmented with limestone color and its aggregate included crushed limestone adding an authentic limestone texture and color. Then the face was ground/burnished to expose the aggregate’s texture, shape and color. Aggregate can dramatically change the aesthetic of the block.”

The CMU was quoted with and without chamfered cuts. The straight edge was chosen for its more modern look. This CMU does not look like the raw grey 8x8x16 unit that we have all grown to rely on for its strength, durability and performance capabilities.

This oversize CMU allows architects a very new impressive product to design with for those who like to think and design out-of-thebox but with established confidence. Graves says this is a distinctive win for the owners, a compelling win for the architect, a cost effective win for the block producer and a win for the mason who appreciates this precise product to work with.

Understanding the Modularity of Masonry

Jackson and project manager Julian Pittman, AIA, principal, modeled the design in 3D. They also used 3D modeling in a limited manner as a construction documentation tool. Drawing stone and block in elevation, they provided profile drawings of each block and noted the sections where each profile was used. The entire project exterior was based on an 8″ masonry module both horizontally and vertically. In the office, this allows a visual check to minimize dimension errors. In the field, cutting masonry is minimized expediting construction productivity.

Jackson and Pittman did an outstanding job understanding dimensioning. Looking at the building, one won’t notice many cuts or large joints to make dimensions work. The goal was to make the building look as if the skin was stone all the way to the top. CMU was laid on half bond. Sizes used were 4x4x24, 4x8x24, 4x12x24 and 4x16x24 to minimize cuts and waste. It was a bit like putting together a puzzle. Jackson and Pittman paid particular attention to window heights, door height and corner heights. Mission accomplished.

Harvey Builders understood this type of project and they also knew history was being made using this product. It was the first time this oversize CMU had been used for this high rise veneer application in Texas.

Anchors CMU was anchored every 16″ horizontally and vertically using the H-B 213 seismic adjustable veneer anchor, designed to withstand over 200-lbf, in tension and compression. Stainless steel was selected to resist rust from any moisture. Houston is located in tornado alley as well as a hurricane risk area where secure connections are code. Horizontal wire reinforcing is used as well as vertical behind the units.

Hydraulic mast climbing scaffolding that wraps the tower is shared by several trades including dry wall contractors, waterproofing contactors, masons, and masonry cleaners who begin at the top cleaning their way down. As well as window installers. This keeps all contractors to a tight schedule for greatest productivity. Lower scaffolding was more suited for cast stone installation.

Congested Site Planning

We found Downtown Houston to be very congested with buildings, motor vehicles of every kind and pedestrians everywhere. Knowing how to maneuver and manage a tight site was imperative. As was pre-planning. Project Manager Kent Bounds shared that the schedule would call for construction of one tower floor per week on average.

Scaffolding was hydraulically height adjusted continuously for ergonomic efficiency so bricklayers remain at peak performance throughout the duration of the job.

Planning was detailed and complete. Our schedule was aggressive, but could be accomplished. Superintendent Lopez focused on making reality better than plan. His loyal guys gave him all they could. Crews began developing a rhythm right from the start. Once they settled in knowing the job, the repetitive floor plan allowed them to begin to work most efficiently. As project progressed, crews were able to lay a story in four days. The tower’s 42 stories were completed in about 42 weeks, including weather interruptions of high winds, rains, excessive hot weather. Noone can be on the scaffolding with winds of 35 mph. During the 15 months of this job weather delays were only encountered about 10-12 times.

Hydraulic mast climbing scaffolding wrapped the building for greatest efficiency, productivity and safety. It was hydraulically height adjusted every couple courses for ergonomic efficiency so masons could remain at peak performance throughout this job. Hydro Mobile engineers study site, building requirements and weather to determine parameters for securing scaffolding’s stiff arm tie-in every two floors.

Block deliveries were scheduled for 3:00 and 4:00 am as Houston slept to avoid further congestion, to keep the job moving and save material staging costs. We ordered for just-in-time delivery per floor and every floor was stocked in advance. Boral was spot on. They never missed a scheduled early morning delivery.

Safety was of utmost importance. Hydro Mobile scaffold ensures safety with all its components built in so no parts are ever missing or out of place to become a fall hazard.

These oversize CMU weigh just 105 lb. Production schedule required lifting and laying 2/ hour. Two crews of 30 total laid about 2500 block/week

More than 17,000 pieces of cast stone were installed at the two-story base and on the 40th floor pool deck with some pieces weighing as much as 7500 lb. Custom molds were designed and developed with specific shapes to meet stringent tolerance requirements. High-tech color lab and fully-automated batch plant enables consistent color match as well as structural properties throughout the project.

Cast Stone Inviting Entrance

Cast stone and granite clad the lower two floors. This makes a massive podium for the tower to rise up and reach toward the Texas sky. It should make the entire industry proud to drive into Houston and see this luxurious masonry tower as the newest addition to the skyline. Market Square leased three months earlier than expected projections.

Great Team Determines Success

As the job progressed, I reflected on how close I was to not being a part of its success. So from the bull pasture to the 42nd floor of Market Square Tower was quite a journey. I knew this was going to be fun. A great team, including the architect, general contractor, masonry superintendent, craftsmen and support team made this journey one of complete satisfaction. We at Brazos had a strong team being led by president and project manager Kent Bounds, my son, and superintendent Roger Lopez.


NCMA has turned 100 years old this year and it was as if we contributed a large birthday cake.

One hundred years ago our forefathers of this industry were happy to make grey 8X8X16 block produced by hand in single molds, but today we have Market Square Tower made with oversize units resembling limestone manufactured in a state-of-the-art block plant with high tech equipment.

There was a time when CMU were purchased for interior partition walls of schools and backup walls for their durability, fire compartmentation, noise isolation and low cost. Never were they intended to clad a show-stopper highrise in a major city skyline.

Even as the industry evolved to include pigmented split face block and colorful burnished CMU, no one ever thought it would be a reality to drive to downtown Houston, go up to the 40th floor and see oversize burnished block accenting a beautiful all-glass pool cantilevered from the edge.

I remember when Bob Whisnant, one of my block suppliers, told me that they were introducing oversize burnished block. My question was “what market are you trying to get?” They first said elevator fronts and then maybe interior feature walls. It wasn’t long after that we did do a very large feature wall in a high school. That was about five years ago, but we never thought about setting a precedent of 42 floors. When you think of 100 years that is a century, and there have been many accomplishments that we can be proud of but Market Square Tower is among the crowning jewels.

I wonder now, where will we go next. Obviously through research and visionaries, we know there are exciting days ahead. We see an architect take granite & cast stone and then asked the question: Can we put oversize burnished block as the skin above? Not only is the material affordable and high performance, but the appearance is pure elegance. It shines and glitters as the sun shines upon it.

I challenge us to do more. We simply need to give a clear message to the design community: You dream and we will build. Our crews love to be challenged. And they love to drive by a building they helped construct and tell their grandkids, “Your granddaddy helped built that.”

So, from this Design and Construction team including us at Brazos Masonry to NCMA, Happy Birthday to an industry that is still young and energetic! We are proud to have played such a significant role in producing this project.

Chase Your Dreams…

Mackie Bounds

Mackie Bounds, CEO of Brazos Masonry in Waco TX, is a leader in both the Texas and national masonry industries. Brazos Masonry is known for its commitment to safety, scheduling and quality craftsmanship. As such, many commercial, institutional and government buildings throughout Texas have been built by Brazos Masonry. Bounds founded the company in 1989, after a long career in landscape design and construction. Bounds has served on many boards, including Board of Directors of the Central Texas AGC and National AGC Board of Directors. He was the first President of the Central Texas Mason Contractors Association and was subsequently appointed to the Board of Directors of the Texas Masonry Council, where he is still active. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Mason Contractors Association of America, including time as President, during which he designed and implemented a marketing program called Vision 20/20 to promote masonry as the best material for every building in America He takes great delight in going home to his ranch where he and his wife, Norma Jean, run and continue to improve a herd of genetically outstanding registered Beefmaster cattle. 254.848.5830 |

Of Note


Strength & Durability

While glitz and glitter describes the hype and ambience at the 2019 North American International Auto Show, what was new this year was the Concrete Masonry backdrop for the Chevy Silverado Truck special edition. A 20’ tall by 20’ wide standard grey CMU wall, sturdy and strong, proudly stood behind this attention-getting truck.

This branding statement speaks to both chevy truck and concrete masonry. displayed together, tough and snazzy, the all new silverado truck, and CMU mean business.

Both bring high performance continuing to raise the bar. unparalleled. the Chevy truck is all about capability: performance, capacity, technology. materials chosen for durability and long life, and ability to stand up to demands of heavy-duty customers. CMU is all about capability, too. Borne of the same desire to be best-in-class for heavy-duty needs and inviting aesthetics, CMU is a perfect complement to the chevy truck.

Industry News



CMU checkoff stresses leveraging all its benefits

The concrete masonry industry continues its efforts to establish a national checkoff program to generate long-term funds for product research, designer education and promotion of block’s unique benefits. The current outreach campaign is asking producers to imagine a world that recognizes the universal benefits of concrete masonry.

“The opportunities are vast, guided by our imagination and willingness to collaborate across the industry,” says Major Ogilvie, CMU Checkoff Campaign Chair. Since 2010, the CEMEX executive has been the driving force and public face of the industry’s eight-year campaign, a campaign he calls a long pull.

“Across this industry, everybody was engaged and provided very candid feedback to optimize the legislation. A lot of folks put their helmets on and came out and played with us, and that made a significant difference,” he recalls.

The industry’s collective effort paid off when the US Senate passed the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education and Promotion Act in October. “With the passage of the legislation, we are now looking forward furthering the industry’s growth, harnessing the innovation and drive we have across the industry to introduce our products to more designers and end users.”


Attending last year’s National Disaster Resilience Conference, Ogilvie found the cost of recovering from recent large-scale disasters sobering. “Total cost of recent wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes in the US exceeded $300 billion. The concrete masonry industry has the ability to lessen the impact of natural disasters on owners and taxpayers.”

Ogilvie feels that while adopting the national checkoff would grow the industry, it would also allow for stronger, safer communities. “We want concrete masonry structures that shelter people from storms, fires and wind. We want to grow the industry through focusing on creating the best structures possible for our families and our communities.”



Another aspect of the national checkoff would center on educating architects, builders and engineers on current technology available to design structures that leverage all the benefits of concrete masonry.

“Over the past eight years we’ve learned numerous times that designers did not and were not using the modern methods of design for CMU,” says Ogilvie. “What that’s doing is elevating the cost. An immediate opportunity is to develop even more advanced design software so designers can optimize the economics of CMU.”


Funds could also be earmarked for research into new uses and product improvements.


Presently, industry representatives are fanning out across the country to reach every block producer. The goal is to ensure each manufacturer is updated on the complex process to put the checkoff into place.

“Producers are proud of what they do to put quality products in the marketplace,” says Ogilvie. “Working together through the checkoff program, we can do even more for our communities.

Learn more about the CMU Checkoff program and progress, at

Building Information Modeling for Masonry Update


  • IMI – David Sovinski, Mark Swanson, Caryn Halifax
  • IUBAC – James Boland
  • MCAA – Jeff Buczkiewicz, Paul Oldham
  • NCMA – Bob Thomas, Nick Lang

Future BIM-M projects will be considered for funding by the new Executive Committee on a project by project basis. Contact Executive Committee members directly with ideas.

Existing BIM-M activities will be distributed among and administered by organizations within the Executive Committee. These include:

  • BIM-M web site will be maintained by MCAA.
  • BIM Forum contact will be maintained by Mark Swanson, IMI, on behalf of BIM-M.
  • Completion of MUD V2 Jeff Elder with Russell Gentry (BIM-M consultant from Georgia Tech) administering. BIM-M oversight from Nick Lang.
  • MUD V3 will begin once V2 is finalized. 3DiQ was selected as the preferred developer. Nick Lang will manage the project for BIM-M. MUD V3 will be a commercialized version. Manufacturers can decide whether to participate in MUD V3.
  • Mark Swanson will manage the third edition and future improvements of Masonry Wall Library’s REVIT Masonry Content Pack developed by CTC. (free to architects, engineers, users)
  • BIM-M seminars will continue. Funding will be provided by the requesting organization who may contact BIM-M through the web site for opportunities.
  • REVIT to Direct Design introduces interoperability with REVIT and recently released Direct Design with REVIT compatibility completion expected summer 2019.
  • Video available on both under Presentations and titled BIM – The Basics with presentation by Ms. Jamie Davis, PE, providing an updated explanation of BIM plus BIM-M. Specifically prepared for masonry representatives and technical representatives of masonry companies. Available as a seminar or webinar for companies or organizations.
  • Contractor outreach will be continued by Fred Kinateder, through IMI

Executive committee acknowledges contributions of MasonryiQ by 3DiQ,, which continues to grow and expand the ability of users to design and build with masonry.

Belden Holding & acquisition Promotes three as 5th generation of Family Leadership

New Fifth Generation Leaders of Beldens, from left, Bradley H Belden, Brian S Belden, Robert T Belden and fourth generation Robert F Belden remains in top position as chair and CEO

The board of directors of Belden Holding & Acquisition, Inc, parent company of The Belden Brick Company, announced three new management promotions of Bradley h Belden, Robert T Belden, and Brian S Belden at Belden Holding & Acquisition, Inc and Belden Aquisition and Holding, Belden Brick Company, LLC, Redland Brick, Inc, and Belcap, Inc, respectively. These changes, effective as of January 1, 2019, were recommended by the company’s Succession Planning Committee as part of the orderly transition to fifth generation leadership.

Bradley H Belden was named President of Belden Holding & Acquisition, and The Belden Brick Company. He has been with The Belden Brick Company since 2004 and became its Vice President of Administrative Services in 2016. Bradley’s first years at Belden Brick were served in the EH&S Department, then his management responsibilities grew to other departments such as Quality, Purchasing and Customer Service. He implemented efficiencies in manufacturing operations as they relate to energy, raw material consumption and additive usage.

Robert T Belden was named President of Redland Brick. Robert will also continue in his current role as Vice President of Operations at The Belden Brick Company, a position he’s held since 2005. Before joining The Belden Brick Company, Robert joined the Peace Corps serving two years in Jamaica, then went on to work for International Paper from 1998 until 2002. In February 2002, he came to work for The Belden Brick Company.

Brian S Belden was named President of Belcap, a subsidiary of Belden Holding & Acquisition, and a joint venture partner with Acell, Ltd in Arcitell, LLC. Brian will also continue in his current roles as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at both The Belden Brick Company and Redland Brick, positions he’s held since 2016. He has been with The Belden Brick Company since 1997 working in various functions of Sales and Marketing, and today continues with company promotion and sales throughout the United States and Canada.

Brad, Robert T and Brian have been named directors of Belden Holding & Acquisition, The Belden Brick Company, and Belcap. They will also maintain their roles as directors of Redland Brick. Robert F Belden will remain as Chairman and CEO of Belden Holding & Acquisition, and subsidiaries, The Belden Brick Company, Redland Brick and Belcap.

“These appointments are a reflection of the confidence the board of directors of Belden Holding & Acquisition, has in these three leaders from the fifth generation of the Belden Family,” said Robert F Belden on behalf of the Belden Holding & Acquisition Board of Directors. “All three have been effective in their primary areas of responsibility and are dedicated to the success of all the companies under the Belden Holding & Acquisition umbrella. The board feels that these appointments give the Company proper structure to meet the immediate challenges it faces.”

“I am confident that you will join me in supporting Brad, Bob and Brian as they accept these new responsibilities,” said Robert F Belden.

Belden Holding & Acquisition is the parent company of The Belden Brick Company, Redland Brick, Belcap, Belden Brick Sales & Service, dba, Belden Tri-State and The Belden Brick Sales Company.

The Belden Brick Company, is a 134-year old enterprise founded in 1885 by Henry S Belden, Sr. Today, The Belden Brick Company is the largest family owned and managed brick company in the United States and is currently managed by the fifth generation of the Belden family. Operating five brick plants and a sawing facility in Sugarcreek, OH, it also operates and maintains over 180 active oil and gas wells in Ohio’s Tuscarawas and Holmes counties.

Belden Tri-State and The Belden Brick Sales Company are distributors of brick and other construction-related products. Belden Tri- State is headquartered in Manhattan with an office in Philadelphia and stocking yards in New Jersey. The Belden Brick Sales Company is located in Fraser, MI, a suburb of Detroit. Redland Brick, purchased by The Belden Brick Company in 1996, has brick operations in four states: Cushwa and Rocky Ridge Plants are in Maryland; the Harmar Plant is in PA; the KF Plant is in CT; Lawrenceville Brick has two plants in Lawrenceville, VA.

NCMA TEK Note 7-1D Fire Resistance Ratings for Concrete Masonry is Updated

In addition to prescriptive details and tables, this updated TEK is based on calculated fire resistance procedure. It has a spreadsheet calculator for fire resistance ratings so users can determine fire ratings of specific assemblies, including concrete masonry walls, columns, lintels, beams and concrete masonry protection for steel columns. Also included are assemblies composed of concrete masonry and other components, including plaster and gypsum wallboard finishes and multi-wythe masonry components including clay or shale masonry units. TEK is available in the Solutions Center at

Darryl winegar

Darryl winegar is NCMA’S 2019 Chairman of the Board

The NCMA Board of Directors has approved Darryl Winegar to be NCMA Chairman of the Board 2019. As President of Midwest Block and Brick, producer and distributor throughout the Midwest, Winegar has been an active member of NCMA and the industry for many years. He has served on many NCMA committees, including chair of the Sustainability Subcommittee and member of the Convention Committee, Membership Recruitment Committee, SRW Committee and many others. Winegar was first chair of NCMA’s Young Professionals Group, establishing that group as the place for new and younger members of the industry to become involved and grow their professional careers. He looks forward to a productive year as Chair, continuing to move NCMA’s strategic initiatives forward. 573.635.7119 |

James Cain

James Cain appointed next Executive Director of SCMA

Kirk Edens, Chairman of the Southeast Concrete Masonry Association (SCMA) has announced that James Cain, as Executive Director of SCMA, brings more than 20 years experience in sales and market promotion with companies in the aggregate industry, including CEMEX and Titan America. A graduate of Appalachian State University, he is a volunteer with the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and other charitable organizations. 704.352.6831 |

Oldcastle APG Acquires Allied Concrete Products / Eagle Bay Hardscapes

Oldcastle APG has announced the acquisition of Allied Concrete Products. Since 1945, Allied has been an established leader in hardscapes under the Eagle Bay® brand, along with Allied concrete masonry and lightweight aggregates in the Richmond/Tidewater VA region.

In addition to expanding product offerings, the acquisition strengthens Oldcastle APG’s ability to service mid-Atlantic hardscape and masonry installers with a full line of quality masonry paver and wall system products. The acquisition adds two locations to APG’s footprint: a state-of-the-art paver and concrete masonry manufacturing facility in Richmond and a concrete masonry manufacturing facility in Chesapeake.

General Shale Purchases Watsontown Brick

Through its US subsidiary General Shale, the Wienerberger Group recently acquired Pennsylvania-based Watsontown Brick. With this move, Wienerberger broadens its market footprint in the Northeastern US regions of New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as in Canada.

Heimo Scheuch, Wienerberger CEO says, “Watsontown Brick, a leading supplier of high-quality facing bricks, is a perfect fit for us. Moreover, this acquisition strengthens our business in the urban construction market in major agglomerations. By swiftly integrating Watsontown Brick into our existing US platform, we will drive the optimization of the company’s performance in terms of costs and products.”

According to Wienerberger, the 110-year-old Watsontown Brick operates a modern and highly efficient production site with four manufacturing lines and a production capacity of 92 million standard brick units.

Harley Ellis Devereaux announced its merger with Integrated Design Group

National design firm Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED) (Southfield, MI) (ENR #185) announced its merger with data center designer Integrated Design Group (Boston, MA).

According to Peter Devereaux, FAIA, Chairman of HED, this is a natural step for the firm. “We are committed to strategic growth that increases the firm’s ability to create positive impacts for our clients and their stakeholders,” he says. “Bringing the ID team into the HED family is a step on our journey toward expanding our expertise and enabling a greater impact for our clients. It also allows us to reach new audiences — both in this new market sector for HED and in all the sectors we serve in the regions surrounding Boston and Dallas.”

Plan to Attend the 13th NA Masonry Conference June 16 – 19, Salt Lake City UT

Tour one of the largest brick plants in the world and carve a brick. Over 150 presentations of accepted technical papers. 10 to 15 innovative technology topics. Two excellent keynote presentations.


Joe Bonifate

Joe Bonifate, president of operations, Arch Masonry & Restoration, Pittsburgh PA, is licensed to work in PA and WV. Value and integrity-based service bring a balance of safety, quality and production. Tech savvy and progressive, second generation mason Bonifate leads the industry in looking for better ways to achieve goals. He embraces old-world craftsmanship and the most current technology, benefiting from the most advanced new products and systems optimizing performance, robots and drones as well as BIM-M software tools optimizing efficiencies. MCAA Region A Vice President, Bonifate is heavily involved in legislative affairs, keeping the voice of masonry heard in Washington DC. 412.564.5733

Tom Cuneio

Tom Cuneio has been developing computer modeling solutions for masonry since 2004. His companies, CAD BLOX LLC and 3DiQ Inc provide leading edge solutions for BIM-M in both design and construction. He is actively developing software and methods to help the masonry industry capitalize on the benefits and efficiencies of BIM technology. Cuneio is an honors graduate of the Mechanical and Aerospace program from the University of Missouri. | 719.232.5570

Fred Dunand

Fred Dunand, began his career across the pond in France in the Ceramics Industry. Since then, his career has taken him to four countries and 13 states. His most recent adventure has Fred using his 19 years’ experience to innovate the concrete masonry industry with his company Saturn Materials. Opened in 2017, Saturn Materials and Fred have embraced continuous innovation daily. Using a high content of fly ash in its product line, Saturn Materials pushes the green envelope in its production of highly-specialized products within the masonry industry. He is currently an active member in NCMA, mentor to the Mississippi State Architectural School, a proud Mississippi resident and Business owner. Dunand is active in many local business and charitable organizations in the Columbus MS area. | 662.798.4797

Associations Teach

Jenny Stephenson

Iowa State engineering students pose by their finished bricklaying project.

Field Days Expand University Curricula

Masonry Institute of Iowa Gives Three Decades of Architectural Students Hands-On Experience

It was an idea the Masonry Institute of Iowa (MII) Board of Directors had 33 years ago – a hands-on experience to teach and engage architectural students about masonry. Their idea came to fruition with the help of Iowa State University (ISU) lecturer Bruce Bassler. In 1985, MII hosted its first Student Field Day in Masonry.

Since day one, MII has kept essentially the same agenda: tour a masonry building under construction and a finished masonry building, tour a block plant, a brick plant and participate in a bricklaying demonstration. It is an all-day event as part of the Materials and Method (Arch 240) class curriculum for second-year architectural students.

Students are divided into small groups to conceptually design a project. Once on site, students have about an hour and a half to build their designs with brick. Over the years, students have been given various projects, such as walls and benches, but some years were more challenging. Creative animals or a brick outhouse were among past projects. In 2001, students built World Trade Center memorials.

Former ISU Instructor Bruce Bassler was a part of the Student Field Day in Masonry for 29 years before retiring. He noted the creativity of the projects over the years. “One year the project was to design and build backyard grills. I had a group of students bring a grate and charcoal for their grill,” he recalls.

The friendly bricklaying competition emphasizes the thought and effort that goes into each project

Projects are judged by MII members and the course instructor and evaluated on both their creative design and technical bricklaying. Several bricklayers are on hand to demonstrate and instruct students on bricklaying techniques. The winning team receives MII sweatshirts.

Each year, students also have the opportunity to carve an unfired brick prior to the annual trip. Brick are fired during the visit and students keep them as a memento or incorporate them into their bricklaying designs. The friendly bricklaying competition increases the competitive spirit and it emphasizes the thought and effort that goes into each project.

This Past Year

In 2018, 85 architectural and 30 engineering students attended the masonry field day. It was an all-day tour starting before the sun rose. Students loaded onto three charter busses and headed toward the four venues in Des Moines.

ISU architectural students carve unfired (green) brick which are fired at the brick plant

At the construction masonry job site, MII invited the architect, general contractor, masonry suppliers and mason contractor to meet with students and to be available for questions. Over the years, the job site tour has included apartment buildings, grocery stores, commercial space and more. This year, students toured a Bondurant-Farrar Community School District school addition.

At the finished masonry building site, Vintage Cooperatives, a mixed commercial purpose area in Ankeny, the mason contractor, general contractor, architect and owner representatives spoke about their contribution to the construction process and showed students many masonry features on the structure. This hour-long tour allows for masonry structural and aesthetic features to be examined and discussed.

The next stop was the block plant, Rhino Materials, in West Des Moines. Two brick plants take turns hosting from year to year – Sioux City Brick and Glen-Gery Brick – where students tour the brick plant and participate in the bricklaying demonstration.

Students pose by their bricklaying project – a depiction of the college’s CyRide transit system bus.

“This is an invaluable learning experience for students. They will be more interested in using a material they’ve had exposure to. Understanding how masonry is made and installed in a building is great hands-on experience,” said Bassler.

Students benefit from getting out of the classroom and being able to not only see where these materials come from, but how they are installed

Expanding the Reach

About 12 years ago, MII invited the Iowa State University construction engineering program to join the architectural students in this masonry day of learning. Engineering students visit the construction job site as well as the brick and block plants. Each year, students are given 90 minutes to work together in small groups to build campaniles, or bell towers, as a tribute to ISU’s campus campanile. These are judged on structural capacity, design and bricklaying technique.

“Our students benefit from getting out of the classroom, being able to not only see where these materials come from, but how they are installed. They also have the opportunity to speak with industry experts who can answer questions from experience, instead of just reading about them,” said Brad Perkins, instructor for the Construction Engineering 241: Construction Materials and Methods.

This brick hot dog with mustard looks good enough to eat!

Overview of the bricklaying portion of a recent ISU student field day.

We want students to have an appreciation for masonry and the best way to do this is to let them experience it hands-on

MII has taken the success of ISU’s student field day in masonry and applied it to other Iowa universities and community colleges, reaching 300+ students in 2018. University of Northern Iowa’s (UNI) Construction Management and Hawkeye Community College’s Construction Technology programs now participate in their own student field day in masonry. Each fall, students experience masonry job sites, a block plant tour and a bricklaying demonstration. This year, UNI had its third masonry field day.

Exposing as many students as possible to masonry is our goal at MII. We want students to have an appreciation for masonry and the best way to do this is to let them experience it hands-on. It is something they will remember throughout their careers.

The entire industry comes together for the Student Field Day in Masonry. MII is a nonprofit association dedicated to promoting masonry construction throughout Iowa. MII relies on membership, from all aspects of the industry, to support initiatives such as this one. All projects visited are built by MII-member mason contractors. Members donate time, materials and resources each year to make these student field days a success.

The Laborers 144, local laborers union, also brings area high school students, who are part of a high school pre-apprentice program, to help tender for the day.

“MII is passionate about getting the students involved,” added Bassler. “They have taken a proactive role in demonstrating what the industry can do to build better masonry buildings.” Today, ISU lecturer Bo-Suk Hur has taken over Bruce Bassler’s spot in teaching Architectural 240 class. Hur was a part of the MII’s student field day as a second year architecture student in early 2000s. He still remembers the student field day he attended and is excited to pass on this experience to his students.

University of Northern Iowa students appreciate this hands-on experience with a day of masonry

“Iowa State University has a long relationship with the Masonry Institute of Iowa. Students have an excellent opportunity to have practical experience. They can expand their expertise beyond the textbook, lecture notes, and a computer screen. I think this trip has a significant pedagogical opportunity to understand the masonry material, fabrication/construction process, and manufacturer/contractor’s viewpoints in the real world,” said Hur.

MII continues to build its relationships on the UNI and ISU campus by working with the student organizations providing speakers and sponsoring events. Each winter, MII also hosts NCMA’s Unit Design Competition with the third-year architectural students at Iowa State University. The past two years, ISU has taken 2nd place (2018) and 1st place (2017).

Since 1975, MII has worked to forward its mission of promoting masonry throughout the state of Iowa – including the education of young architects and engineers about the sustainability and longevity of masonry.

“It is very rewarding to see the excitement the students have when they get a trowel full of mortar in one hand and a brick in the other, then combine these to create a project of their own design. This hands-on experience stays with them throughout their entire design career and opens their eyes to the skill needed to build with masonry and satisfaction one gets from a job well done,” said MII President Scott Ellingson.

Jenny Stephenson

Jenny Stephenson is the association director of the Masonry Institute of Iowa – the only nonprofit association for promoting masonry within the state. MII is committed to providing masonry education to students, architects and engineering, as well as introducing students to bricklaying as a career. She has worked in association management for more than ten years and at MII since 2016. Stephenson is a graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and Drake University with a Master’s in Public Administration. 515.979.8235 |

Knowledge Edge

Corey Zussman


Each project has a traditional mock-up to verify assumptions about the design and a constructability mock-up to provide a detailed review of the installation.

As a general contractor, Pepper Construction depends on a team atmosphere for success. We pride ourselves on a low project rework rate of 0.35% versus the industry average of 3%-12%. To achieve this type of success, we work extensively with subcontractors to make sure that expectations and groups grasp of project requirements are well understood from the beginning.

I love masonry. As a young architect, I was trained initially to work with masonry and to understand the material. Infinite possibilities of the material with limitless and unbelievable talent of tradespeople have always made masonry a desirable material over many others.

In my almost 30-year career, I have been fortunate to work with masonry in many applications. As an architect, I designed churches, schools and other buildings that utilized masonry as a main component. As a quality director for a large masonry restoration construction company, I learned the unique trade of masonry restoration and preservation. This extremely talented team of tradesmen taught me what it took to truly detail a building more than a 100 years-old. Moreover, now, as a quality director for a large construction company in Chicago, I am privileged to work with many talented and dedicated tradesmen throughout the industry. From what I have learned over the years, I developed the current Quality Program based on that experience and understanding the importance of clearly setting expectations for the project.

Gaining buy-in on ways to install products is key to overall success

As part of this process, both the architect and owner are provided with their traditional mock-up as specified for their use. One or two steps are taken further through the use of preplanning and mock-ups to verify assumptions about the design and construction.

Preinstallation Meeting

Setting expectations early provides for a successful and profitable project. This process begins with a very detailed preinstallation meeting where drawings, specifications, building envelope trade preinstallation meeting minutes, product installation instructions, compatibility confirmation and an extensive lessons-learned library of construction for masonry are reviewed. At this meeting, design assumptions are reviewed and confirmed and RFIs for the architect are produced to clearly detail or to clear up conflicts in the drawings. During these meetings, adjacent materials are reviewed and confirmed, so the mason understands their role in the entire building and not just the façade or the structural system and the façade. These meetings typically take three hours. The project’s level of expectation related to craftsmanship is very clearly set, with the participation of the mason foreman.

Virtual Mock-up

In the preinstallation meeting, the possibility of working with a virtual mock-up is discussed. Virtual mock-ups are implemented on projects that may need more attention to sequencing with other trades that require extremely intricate detailing that would benefit from building it on the computer first, or when the detailing is new and the team would benefit from detailing many trials. A virtual mock-up is typically followed up with a traditional mockup to confirm the assumptions.

Constructability Mock-up

Once parameters are set, a physical mock-up is designed, which is the most important tool in setting expectations early for tradespeople. At Pepper Construction, we specify what we call a constructability mock-up. The constructability mock-up is designed to provide the mason with a detailed review of the installation and to produce a document that the team can easily pass down to other tradespeople.

Virtual mock-ups are implemented on projects that may need more attention to sequencing with other trades.

Once parameters are set, physical mock-up is designed, which is the most important tool in setting expectations early for tradespeople

A constructability mock-up is systematically deconstructed so that it can be analyzed to confirm compliance with expectations and preinstallation decisions.

The constructability mock-up is not an in-place mock-up. It is built by the mason’s project team with the understanding that it will be taken apart and analyzed to confirm detailing and their understanding of the preinstallation decisions. The constructability mock-up incorporates most of the significant elements about detailing, not general appearance. It is essential that the flashing is properly installed, that the masonry anchors are properly detailed to the air/vapor barrier, and basic masonry practices are properly followed. Proper masonry backup is included as part of the constructability mock-up. This mock-up is key to getting the tradespeople comfortable with different materials they will be working up against and will need to maintain.

Air/vapor barriers on the substrate, are now standard practice to build up against and understanding that their continuity is important for the entire project’s success. However, there are many different types of systems, and they all have special detailing the mason must understand. The constructability mock-up allows the trades person to essentially practice before actually working on the building. Doing this type of mock-up allows for real-time feedback and discussion, ensuring the mason is able to confidently work with the specified products.

Once the constructability mock-up has been designed and built, the team comes together to review installation procedures. This team will generally include the masonry superintendent, foreman and trades person who worked on the mock-up, as well as the architect, owner, general contracting team, including the quality department. I then proceed to break the constructability mock-up apart in a systematic way to determine compliance with project expectations, reviewing each item and confirming proper installation.

Constructability mock-ups and collaboration are used to update lessons learned for more efficient preinstallation meetings

Mock-up Items Reviewed

Several items are specifically reviewed:

  • Proper masonry coursing/joints
  • Mortar tooling (slight concave, raked, beaded, etc)
  • Full head and bed joints
  • Clean cavities and mortar collection device installation
  • Flashing installation, including primer, overlapping, joint finishing and sealant installation
  • Inside and outside corner flashing
  • How the stainless-steel drip edge or other is overlapped, detailed at the corners and sealed to the substrate
  • Masonry anchor placement and proper installation, detailing at the air/vapor barrier and fastener installation
  • Installation and detailing of insulation, including at floor lines
  • Window sill flashing and end dams
  • Window lintel flashing and end dams
  • Shelf angle detailing, including proper gaps below the shelf angle
  • Proper parapet detailing
  • Proper masonry movement joint detailing
  • Tuckpointing
  • Proper masonry cleaning

Shared Plan

Details listed above and more are carefully reviewed with the team at the mock-up review. Gaining buy-in on different ways to install products is key to overall success. Working together, to review conditions along with installation instructions and building documents before construction, builds a positive team relationship rather than potentially negatively reviewing work in place later. It can be typically determined if the condition is a one-time concern or if it happens throughout the mock-up. Behaviors are able to be modified with shared understanding before work is started on the building.

Once all these items, and others, are exposed and evaluated, a full color document is produced for the masonry team to distribute and keep with them at the area of construction. Both correct and incorrect installations are identified, ensuring that each component is discussed and answered. The report is typically laminated and placed on a ring in the corner for convenient access whether on a stage, platform or scaffold. The intent is for the entire team to be able to review the mock-up, even if all were not involved. This document helps achieve consistent results, even with multiple masonry teams on site.

The constructability mock-up remains on site for most of the duration for masons and entire construction team to reference.


Constructability mock-ups and on-site collaboration are used to constantly update lessons learned in the preinstallation meeting, making these meetings more efficient and useful. With information learned, Pepper Construction has worked with the local International Masonry Institute (IMI) staff to identify masonry installation trends and potential learning opportunities for the industry.

This course of review and verification has proven greatly successful for more than six years. Masonry re-work has gone from 1.5% of the construction cost to less than 0.20%. This results in a savings to the mason and helps the schedule stay on track. The mason’s overall involvement has increased project after project as they have become a consistent trade that our construction team can rely on to stay on track and even ahead of schedule.

I am extremely proud of the masonry tradespeople whom I have worked with over the years for wanting to improve their installations. We work to keep masons on our projects now and we will into the future.

Corey Zussman

Corey Zussman AIA, NCARB, ALA, RBEC, REWC, RWC, CQM, CxA+BE, LEED® AP BD+C, Director of Quality Assurance for Pepper Construction in Chicago, is a registered architect in several states, practicing for almost 30 years, specializing in building envelope, restoration, preservation and life safety. Zussman works on 50-75 projects a year, including constructability reviews, conducting pre-installation meetings, conducting comprehensive envelope meetings, construction observation and providing education throughout the industry. He is a frequent speaker and instructor and has been promoting the company’s Quality Program for more than seven years. Zussman holds his Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Quality Management and his Bachelor of Architecture with minors in Construction Management and Business Administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology. 847.620.4061

Observation | Recommendations

A – Masonry head joints are properly being installed full.

B – AVB is installed at proper thickness of 40 mil dry.

C – AVB at openings are properly being installed with full primer and rolled… Joints must be sealed with sealant (Dow 758 or similar) with at least 1/8″ thickness,

D – ABV must go back about 3″ (to front side of pre-punched holes) coordinate with window installer.

E – Mortar net is properly being installed full in the cavity.

F – Cavity is properly being installed with a clear cavity.



Energy Modeling Compliance Path


In v3.2, W Mark McGinley, PhD, PE, FASTM, explains how increasing energy code’s prescriptive (R-value tables) continuous insulation requirements does not have to exclude single wythe masonry as an option for cost-effective and energy efficient design for certain building types.

Energy Demand & Building Code

For most US climates, prescriptive building envelope requirements in energy code [ASHRAE 90.1-2010] mandate single wythe exterior masonry walls to have continuous insulation with R-values varying from 5.7 sf•°F•h/BTU to over 15 sf•°F•h/BTU. Although prescriptive thermal transmittance values (U-values) do not require continuous insulation, they do produce similar effective envelope R-value requirements and, thus, require external insulation of varying amounts. Even though masonry walls do not need to be covered to provide finish or protection, external insulation must be protected and thus covered. These coverings impact the cost of wall systems, are less durable than masonry and will produce higher maintenance costs.

Every increasing prescriptive insulation requirement often leads designers to falsely assume that building envelope high R-values are needed for the building to be considered energy efficient. Yet, increasing envelope insulation levels may have only a minimal effect on the overall building energy performance, especially for walls with a high thermal mass. Higher mass walls act to impede thermal movement through the building envelope when there are temperature fluctuations. Studies on building energy use have shown that improving efficiency of lighting, heating and cooling systems can result in a much greater reduction in energy consumption than simply increasing envelope thermal resistance, depending on building occupancy, operating schedules and climate zone.

Energy Budget Method

Energy codes allow alternatives to the prescriptive path code compliance methods. The energy budget is one such method. This method more accurately predicts the impact of high thermal mass of exterior masonry walls and was used to develop more cost-effective design alternatives to simple prescriptive solutions for several building archetypes commonly constructed with single wythe concrete masonry unit (CMU) exterior wall systems.

For code compliance, the energy cost budget method requires that whole building simulations be used to verify that alternative building designs produce yearly energy costs no more than equivalent buildings configured to meet prescriptive code requirements modeled in the same cities, with the same set points, schedules, etc.

McGinley’s research found that for the building types studied—warehouse, supermarket and big box retail—holistic energy analysis and the energy budget code compliance paths produced alternative designs that did not require external insulation. They were more cost effective and energy efficient than designs developed from code prescriptive requirement configurations.

For details about the research and achieving code compliance with single wythe masonry in all climate zones, read more on pages 32-35 in SMART | dynamics of masonry v3.2 or online at

Exterior Masonry Walls

In some climate zones, code-prescribed exterior wall configurations require face insulation, but alternative building configurations were able to meet compliance with 8" medium weight CMU walls, grouted and reinforced vertically at 4'oc with foam insulation injected into ungrouted CMU cores.

Live help

Smart | Focus

Elizabeth Young

Stand A Little Taller

The BIM for Masonry initiative began six years ago, bringing the industry’s best together under the leadership of David Biggs, PE, FTMS, FASTM, pooling talent, connections and resources to insert masonry more effectively into the digital design movement.

In this time, the tools and techniques developed, directly or indirectly, have truly been revolutionary. It’s not happening overnight, but there is a real difference in how designers and contractors are using masonry and communicating on projects. Biggs shares the current tools and resources and future plans, as the initiative transitions to a new phase in Significant Strategic Strides in BIM-M and Building Information Modeling for Masonry Update.

Software Developer Tom Cuneio writes further about how digital tools provide data to allow project teams to eliminate transactions, making job sites more efficient in his article Making Masonry Efficient.

During the same period, concrete masonry industry leaders worked with Congress on legislation enacting a CMU checkoff program. The program was passed and signed into law by President Trump in October 2018. Construction Association of Michigan’s CAM Magazine Editor Mary Kremposky McArdle explains the plans for research, promotion and education to support concrete masonry products and regain market share from competitors in Got Block?

The result of so much attention and innovation has led to numerous dynamic projects. Mason Contractor Joe Bonifate explains how Arch Masonry & Restoration is using drones for more accurate and efficient façade inspections in Drones Add Efficiency for Historic Restoration.

Cover story, 187 Franklin Street, NYC, designed by System Architects, written by Bob Belden, Chairman and CEO of The Belden Brick Company, is most unusual with its undulating masonry façade and interior. Belden takes us to the beehive kiln to learn how color intensity varies in the kiln, then units are beautifully blended and stacked by hand to ensure aesthetic efficiency. The St Mary Mercy Hospital Chapel in Livonia MI is another award-winning example of what’s possible with masonry when technology and communication are maximized. The design and construction story of this curvaceous space is told by both the PLY+Architects Bill Carpenter, Craig Borum and Jen Maigret, and Mike Piazza, on-site supervisor at Davenport Masonry. Both teams shared their models to be able to execute the building in the most exacting and efficient way possible. Read Modeling Every Brick in the Wall and iPads & String to learn how they made it happen.

As we learn more about building buildings that are strong, safe and high performing, construction techniques are scrutinized for quality. That requires that each element of a system is installed as intended and that each system works with every other system. Pepper Construction’s Director of Quality Assurance Corey Zussman shares how his company reduces rework (saving time, materials and costs) and assures quality through constructability mock-up walls in Mock-Up Sets Expectations.

And, for all the great things going on, the masonry industry couldn’t evolve and grow without the enthusiastic commitment from associations. The Masonry Institute of Iowa’s Executive Director Jenny Stephenson shares how members host Masonry Days for architectural and engineering students, stimulating enthusiasm in the next generation to continue masonry’s legacy.

Be inspired!

Elizabeth Young

Elizabeth Young Managing Editor, Associate Publisher

In the Next Issue

AESTHETIC & STRUCTURAL DESIGN ADAPTIVE REUSE HISTORIC RESTORATION Design Assist Delegated Design Gathering Spaces Structural Brick CMU Shear Walls Carry the Load Clever Masonry Objets d’Art Glazed Brick Texture Speaks Direct Design Put to Use