College of LAS « Illinois

Brick by (beautiful) brick

Bricklayers and other craftworkers win award for work on the Natural History Building

The International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers has awarded the 2017 Best Comprehensive Restoration Project award to the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 8 of Illinois for its work on Natural History Building.
The International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers has awarded the 2017 Best Comprehensive Restoration Project award to the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 8 of Illinois for its work on Natural History Building.
The renovation of the Natural History Building has been heralded for the new learning opportunities it offers students, faculty, and staff. Now it’s been recognized for something else: the intricate brick, plaster, masonry, tile, and other surface work that make the building look so good.

The International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers has awarded the 2017 Best Comprehensive Restoration Project award to the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 8 of Illinois for its work on Natural History Building, which recently reopened after an extensive $70 million renovation.

Based in Washington, D.C., the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers represents trowel trades craftworkers across the U.S. and Canada. It awards craft awards to unions for distinguished service to their communities.  

The award was given for a variety of surface work on the historic building, including pointer-cleaner-caulker, masonry, ceramic tile, terrazzo, marble and three stage plastering.
The award was given for a variety of surface work on the historic building, including pointer-cleaner-caulker, masonry, ceramic tile, terrazzo, marble and three stage plastering.
Pete Spence, secretary/treasurer and field representative for Local 8, said 70 different workers with the union worked a combined 40,000 man-hours on the Natural History Building. They won the award for the multiple varieties of work and length of the project.

“I submitted the Natural History Building for this multi-craft award because of the historical value of the building and work that was performed on the project,” said Spence, who has worked as a bricklayer for 38 years. “These included PCC (pointer-cleaner-caulker), masonry, ceramic tile, terrazzo, marble and three stage plastering.”

Built in 1892, the building is on the National Register of Historic places and one of the oldest buildings on campus. The building now has state of the art labs and classrooms, while still maintaining the integrity of the original building design.

“The bulk of plastering work was 175,000 square feet of free coat plaster which is rarely done anymore. That was a big deal for us,” Spence said. “We were awarded this because of our training, skills, and professionalism through the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers trade.”

The members who worked on the project will all receive certificates of achievement and be recognized for their work. Spence credits the union’s successful partnership with the university as being a huge part of the reason they won the award.  

“The International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers said it was one of the tougher years to judge different awards, and it was nice that we did receive it,” Spence said. “For any bricklayer there is so much work that goes into our projects. It’s nice to be recognized for the skills that took us so much energy and time to perfect.”

Taylor Hoffman
11/8/2017

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