For the first time since the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the International Masonry Institute (IMI) welcomed a cohort of 41 young architects and International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) members to the BAC/IMI John J. Flynn International Training Center in Maryland for one of IMI’s cornerstone programs, Masonry Camp.
During Masonry Camp 2023, the designers and craftworkers teamed up for a weeklong collaborative learning experience to deepen their understanding of how to design and build high-performing masonry and tile projects. The program provides an immersive look at materiality and constructability through classroom lectures, hands-on building exercises, and team-building activities. The week culminated in a group challenge to design and build representative mock-ups of resilient, sustainable community and/or training centers. Seven teams comprised of both architects and craftworkers worked to address different extreme environmental events in different parts of the country. The solutions they developed reflect the local area’s existing architecture and show how masonry and tile structures serve climate-threatened communities.
A team of judges – BAC President and IMI Co-Chair Timothy Driscoll, IMTEF National Training Director Anthony DiPerna, Eric Oskey, Principal at Moto Designshop, and Camilo Garcia, Business Unit Leader at DPR Construction – evaluated and inspected each team's mock-up and presentation. Each judge brought with them their unique personal and professional perspective on the projects and provided insight to the teams after their presentations. They took into consideration the overall programmatic challenges of each project as well as the design intent. When it came to reviewing the mock-ups, the judges were amazed at the level of craft performed by both architect and craftworker participants in such a short period of time.
BAC President and IMI Co-Chair Timothy Driscoll, IMTEF National Training Director Anthony DiPerna, Eric Oskey, Principal at Moto Designshop, and Camilo Garcia, Business Unit Leader at DPR Construction Evaluating Final Projects
The experience provided the architects and craftworkers with a newfound respect and appreciation for one another’s work. “It’s great to know there are artisans out there that care about the details as much as we do as designers,” said Zachary Smith, an architect from Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. The feeling was mutual for Keaka Kuhaulua, a bricklayer from BAC Local 1 Hawaii. “It was eye-opening for me to see everything that goes into the design process. We’re craftworkers, but architects are craftspeople, too.”
That eye-opening experience is what makes Masonry Camp such a transformational experience for the young designers and builders who have the chance to participate. One that can influence how they practice their respective crafts in the future.
“We hope that as Masonry Campers advance in their careers, the collaboration and dialogue they engaged in during this program will help them cross professional boundaries to ensure successful masonry and tile projects,” explained Roy Ingraffia, IMI National Director of Industry Development.
Masonry Camp Participant Sketching During Studio Hours
Indeed, many Masonry Camp alumni go on to one day assume leadership positions in the industry, whether as principals of design firms, union officials, owners of signatory contracting companies, or otherwise. “The talented designers and craftworkers at Camp represent the future leaders of our industry who have the power to influence both design and installation practices,” says Ingraffia.
This year’s Masonry Campers were naturally collaborative, feeding off one another’s ideas and trying their hand at skills they hadn’t been exposed to before. Argenis Martinez, tile setter from BAC Local 4 California, found himself energized taking an active part in the design process during the design-build challenge. “The architect and I enjoyed brainstorming together and picking one another’s brains,” he said. “I gave him ideas about the tile design, and he brought them to life digitally on his computer. I loved that part because I’ve never seen how that’s done before, and it gave us perfect measurements based on our project dimensions. Seeing my ideas come to life was really fun. Everyone here is incredibly passionate about their work.”
Masonry Camp Participants Collaborating on Team Challenge
In a design industry that is often digitally driven, the participants were able to step out of that realm at Camp and discover the value of early-project tactile-based collaboration. The exercise allowed the architect team members to appreciate the level of detail and information that installers need to accurately interpret design intent on a project.
“Just because you can draw it or model it doesn’t mean it can be built,” said Chad Clary of Studio A Architecture. He went on to encourage his colleagues at Camp to make a point to talk with contractors and craftworkers on job sites when the opportunity arises. “They have the construction knowledge and pride in their work. They love to share that information.”
The process of working with professional craftworkers and instructors to learn how to install materials gave many of the architects new insight on how to set construction teams up for success. “I know I’ll do a lot less hand-waving now that I’ve had the experience of building a wall,” said Paul Bestul of Bray Architects. “We may be at opposite ends of the industry, but ultimately, we all have the same goals. I came into this experience thinking that architects were artists, but now I realize craftspeople are the true artists. They make our designs come to life, and I have so much respect for the hard work they do every day.”
As with prior Masonry Camp participants, Team IMI looks forward to providing ongoing support and educational opportunity to these talented 2023 Masonry Campers:
- Amy Baade - Landmarks SGA
- William Bailey IV - BAC Local 5 Pennsylvania
- Kyle Baron - SLAM
- Emily Bell - Annum
- Steven Beltran - BAC Local 3 California
- Paul Bestul - Bray Architects
- Mark Bolos - USA Architects
- Alexia Cavazos - Studio Gang Architects
- Xin Chen - DLZ
- Dusan Cimbalak - BAC local 3 California
- Chad Clary - Studio A Architecture
- Jeremy Culp - BAC Local 5 Oklahoma/Arkansas/Texas
- Carolina Downey - Francis Cauffman Architects
- Michael Fasulo - BAC ADC of New Jersey
- Jamie Ferello - Digsau
- Arturo Flores - BAC Local 4 California
- Richard Fuller - Lionakis
- Benjamin Grzegorczyk - BAC Local 2 Michigan
- Sarah Haase
- Nicholas Haehle - BAC Wisconsin District Council
- Maria Internicola - SMSA Architectural Services
- Viki Kirsch - BAC Local 3 New York
- David Kitchen - Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
- Nicholas Knighten - BAC Local 1 Oregon/Washington/Idaho/Montana
- Stephen Kocik - BAC Local 3 New York
- Keaka Kuhaulua - BAC Local 1 Hawaii
- Ruike Liu - HDR Inc.
- Anca Lungu -Smith Group
- Argenis Martínez - BAC Local 4 California
- Quentin Marvin - BAC Local 4 Indiana/Kentucky
- Mason Mingo - BAC Local 3 Iowa
- Rick Murphy - BAC Local 2 Michigan
- Cornelius Nix - BAC Local 2 Michigan
- Jose Bisquera Panoncialman - BAC Local 1 Hawaii
- Elizabeth Posadas - Hasenstab Architects, Inc.
- Eric Pros - DS Architecture
- Gary Quarles - BAC Local 8 Southeast
- Isabella Ramos - PGAL
- Zachary Smith - SOM
- Natalia Tyson - Leo A Daly
- Hector Villalvaso - BAC Local 15 Missouri/Kansas/Nebraska
- Brennon Zenoski - BAC Local 3 New York
Masonry Camp Participant Presenting Final Project