Thanks to a donation of block, brick and ancillary items by County Materials Corporation, over 100 students enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Architecture’s Masonry Studio class can now boast hands-on experience with masonry construction. The innovative, semester-long course introduces masonry attributes and design to undergraduate architecture students. The students used the materials to construct masonry mockups of the three top designs in a class-wide competition for masonry design.
The course was designed in response to a nationwide lack of attention to masonry in architecture education. Originally planned as a two-year experiment, Masonry Studio is now a required course. The hands-on experience they receive in the class gives UWM architecture graduates an edge over the competition when it comes to competing for entry-level architecture jobs, many of which require them to incorporate masonry into their designs. “We had students telling us that this was the best thing they have ever experienced at the University. It seems to have been quite a hit,” says UWM professor Jim Shields, FAIA, coordinator of Masonry Studio.
The project allowed students to learn every aspect of masonry construction and design in a very direct, hands-on manner. “It’s a good way for them to get exposed to the materials,” says County Materials’ location manager Carl Swenson. “They actually roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and learn what’s involved in masonry. Some of the students came out to the yard to pick out materials. They were like sponges. They’re smart kids asking good questions. They were energetic and enthused.” The students worked side by side with professional masons from Superior Masonry and JH Hassinger Inc., who volunteered their time during construction of the mock-ups. The completed mockups remained on public display for three weeks in the atrium of the university’s architecture building.
Donating the masonry materials required quick action on the part of County Materials’ Waukesha facility. The call for donations came less than two weeks before the materials were required on site. “It was approved very quickly,” reports Swenson. “County Materials is always active in supporting activities that provide education to our industry.”
Other event sponsors include International Masonry Institute, Wisconsin Masonry Alliance, and SpecMix.
County Materials Corporation is a family-owned, American-based manufacturing company and leading source for construction and landscape products. Its headquarters are in Marathon, WI, where the company was founded in 1946. County Materials has grown into a diversified organization that supplies products for growing communities at more than 44 locations across the Midwest. For more information visit www.countymaterials.com.
Rebecca Sonnentag, Corporate Communication & Promotions Director