How Masonry Companies Effectively Partner With Architectural Firms

An Architectural Challenge Accepted…

Architects face many current obstacles and challenges in their planning and design work, not the least of which include sourcing scarce building materials and supply chain disruptions that continue to unwind from the pandemic. Rising costs have also become a factor, with overall building materials up over 10% compared to 2020

As one of Colorado’s leading masonry contractors, Phoenix Masonry continues to lobby for the use of masonry in the design and construction of new builds. In the run-up to another one of our guest articles in Construction Executive Magazine, we decided to speak to a few local architectural firms. The goal? Find out what they really think of utilizing masonry—the good, the bad, and possibly even the ugly. The responses we received provided us with some valuable insight into how they view masonry—especially their attempt to balance its usage within the constraints of value engineering—and how we masonry companies can better position ourselves and recommend the benefits of our craft in ways that appeal to the sensibilities and concerns of architects.

Speaking With The Architectural Experts

As part of our author agreement with the editorial board of Construction Executive magazine, we were tasked with seeking new topics and opportunities in which we could collaborate with our business partners in the industry. We immediately thought of our association with the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute (RMMI), as well as local architectural firms. Architects are a prime target market for us, and part of our work is to persuade them to implement masonry features in their design and planning stages. We wanted to hear their opinion on working with masonry—the good, the bad, and maybe even the ugly. We were able to generate a questionnaire, which we sent to Oz Architecture and D2C Architects, two of the leading Denver-based firms with impeccable reputations.

We wanted to know what we could do, as a commercial contractor, to encourage more usage of brick, stone, and concrete in their work. We also asked for their honest opinion about working masonry into their designs. What did they like? What, if any, were the drawbacks? We asked them to provide us with specific advantages in using masonry in their design work, and also what they thought the future held for their work and masonry.

The Benefits And Challenges Of Masonry

In speaking with Oz Architecture and D2C Architects, we found out that architects, in general, love the variety, flexibility, and durability of using masonry in their planning and design. They especially loved the lifespan of masonry, and how it’s fairly maintenance free, unlike many other building materials.

On the flip side, there are concerns about some of the same challenges we face when it comes to masonry work. There’s a lack of skilled labor across the board for commercial construction, but this shortfall is much more noticeable in the installation of masonry projects. There were also concerns about pricing and the availability of materials, both of which must be taken into account when planning a large-scale project. Lastly, our Colorado climate in winter is a consideration, as that requires tenting of the jobsite, which in turn increases overall costs for the architectural firms.

With this knowledge, there is an opportunity for masonry to communicate with architectural firms to highlight the benefits of our craftsmanship, such as its aesthetic appeal and its sustainability. It’s also imperative that we develop messages that reinforce the value of masonry over what architects feel are the drawbacks of masonry. With such worthy partnerships at stake, we are up to the challenge.

The Future Of Masonry-Architecture Collaborations At Phoenix Masonry

Admittedly, we don’t have much interaction with architectural firms, but this is an area in which we’re trying to improve. We were quite pleased to have their honest and direct feedback, which tells us that a few of their primary concerns are the same as ours. In theory, we’re a lot closer in opinion than we originally thought— and that was a reassuring discovery.

To read Christy’s byline in Construction Executive on masonry and architectural firms, “Making the Case for Masonry”, please follow this link.