International Masonary Institute
Officials are seeking LEED certification for the Maryland facility, which features significant natural light.

Union bricklayers from all parts of the U.S. and at all levels of expertise will be able to access more craft training at a $30-million complex inaugurated last month by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and the International Masonry Institute in Bowie, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C.  The new training center, more than a decade in the making, will be used to train all masonry trades, from pre-apprentices to instructors.

“We have made a significant commitment to invest in the future of the industry,” union President John J. Flynn said at the center’s Sept. 21 dedication. “Instead of talking about a workforce crisis, we are taking action.” According to Flynn, the facility will house the union’s masonry camp,   contractor “college” and a variety of apprentice training, journey-level upgrade  and instructor certification programs.

The 25-acre campus includes a 60,500-sq-ft training facility with offices, classrooms and design studios, as well as  a 45,500 sq-ft conference center with recreational space and a dormitory for 108 students. Training participants will be able to attend classes and live on campus for 8-to-12-week periods at a time. “The idea was you needed at least one center that you could always count on to be available for quality training in all the crafts we represent 365 days a year,” says IMI President Joan Calambokidis.

Albert Catalano, northeast regional director for the bricklayers in Albany, N.Y., says the center will be particularly useful for union locals that have too few apprentices or pre-apprentices to enroll in their own facilities. “We can send six to seven people to get training there,” he says. The facility is also “a great symbol that shows, ‘Here is where masonry is,’ ” Catalano notes. Center staff will also develop curricula for masonry and allied crafts to use nationwide and will test new products and work processes.

Dedication of the new campus culminated a long search for a national training facility site. The union and IMI originally had planned to redevelop a location in western Maryland and actually leased space there during the 1990s. But officials shifted course after the property became involved in legal disputes that could have dragged out the redevelopment process.

Calambokidis says the union worked with Tigerman-McCurry Architects, Chicago, in designing the facility. Buildings feature a “no frills” open design with exposed pipes and ductwork, as well as plentiful examples of different masonry products. “I love working on projects like that because they are challenging,” Stanley  Tigerman says. “You can’t hide anything.” The union is seeking LEED certification for the complex, which emphasizes use of natural light and “green” materials.

“By building this state-of-the-art facility for future generations, you’re ensuring that they have the tools to capture their piece of the American Dream,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said at the dedication.