ON SEPT. 5, 2009, Notre Dame football fans streamed up Eddy Street on their way to the first game of the season. Some stopped at the university bookstore to pick up last minute gear, looking forward to cheering on their team. But it was another team that made it all possible.

Forty skilled masons and three superintendents from Ziolkowski Construction Inc. (ZCI) of South Bend, Ind., worked on a fast track schedule to complete Eddy Street Commons before the football season started. The development is the first of its kind to border Notre Dame University in South Bend.

Eddy Street Commons is a new retail and residential corridor directly south of the campus, including four, four-story retail and residential buildings, a parking garage, and townhomes. The Foundry, four mixed-use buildings at the heart of the development, offers commercial space for restaurants, shops, and businesses at street level. Condominiums and apartments occupy the top three floors of each building.

With a mix of cast stone and colored brick facades, each of the almost 150,000-square-foot masonry buildings gives the impression of many neighboring storefronts along the street. ZCI's masonry division brought the architects' vision to life with 950,000 brick, 14,000 pieces of cast stone, and 30,000 concrete block.

ZCI's masons were not intimidated by the scope of the project. The contractor was founded in 1974 and has grown to employ almost 500 employees in six divisions: General Contracting, Interior, Masonry Contracting, Masonry Restoration, Painting, and Design/Build. Their team of union bricklayers works on projects throughout northern and central Indiana and southern Michigan.

Team strategy

“Schools are our forte, and it's not unusual for our masons to work on a large high school for an entire year,” says project manager Dan Kidd. ZCI won a MASONRY CONSTRUCTION Project of the Year award in 2005 for its historic restoration of Sniff Hall at Tri-State University in Angola, Ind.

The masons responsible for building The Foundry used a team approach. The game plan: Split the crew into two teams of 20 masons each, with one main project superintendent and two team superintendents. Each team was assigned two buildings.

Each of the structures includes smooth and split face cast stone in 4-, 8-, and 12-inch sizes, and multiple colors of brick. The architect specified intricate patterns to separate each elevation, including basket weave, herringbone, diamond pattern, and old fashioned dental work at the top. ZCI's school and commercial jobs typically use one or two colors of brick. The Foundry required almost a dozen.

Kite Realty Group, the Indianapolis general contractor, provided laminated color renderings of each elevation. The masons followed these maps to create the exact patterns and color schemes. “It was a complicated process,” says Kidd. “Two masons could be laying a different color brick in a completely different pattern than the guys right next to them.”

A project of this size required heavy-duty machinery. ZCI brought in nine power units of Hydek scaffolding and two 40-ton cranes to hoist materials. “With all the different contractors' equipment, our superintendent said he felt like a traffic cop,” says Kidd.

As the masons worked their way north on Eddy Street, other contractors followed close behind to rebuild the streetscape, including new sidewalks and curbs. After almost a year of construction detours, the thoroughfare reopened just in time for the Fighting Irish to kick off the new football season.

Project Participants

Owner: Kite Realty Group, Indianapolis

Architect: Looney Ricks Kiss, Memphis, Tenn.

Masonry Contractor: Ziolkowski Construction Inc., South Bend, Ind.

General Contractor: Kite Realty Group, Indianapolis

Masonry Suppliers: Rose Brick & Materials Inc., South Bend; Custom Cast Stone Co., Westfield, Ind.; Carter's Concrete Block Inc., Logansport, Ind.

CLICK HERE to see a slide show of this project.