BAC/IMI National Training Center: Open for Business
The union masonry industry's commitment to workforce development gained a visible national face this summer with the opening of the new International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC)-International Masonry Institute (IMI) National Training Center in Bowie, Md. The 25-acre campus includes a 61,000-square-foot training center and a 46,000-square-foot, three-story conference center, conveniently located in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area.
Along with the myriad training and educational programs that will be available there for craftworkers, contractors, designers and other building professionals, the new campus "offers a blueprint for growth," said IMI Co-chair John J. Flynn, BAC president. "We made a significant investment in the future of the industry."
The IMI is funded by BAC and the signatory contractors who employ them. The oldest continuous union in North America, BAC represents all trowel trades craftworkers: brick, block, stone, marble, tile, terrazzo, plaster, concrete and restoration.
All BAC crafts will be taught at the center, and courses will be offered for all levels of BAC members, from pre-job apprentices to forepersons and contractors. The constant for all classes will be safety training.
The conference center has dorm rooms for 108 students, recreation facilities, meeting rooms and a cafeteria. Its current annual capacity is 2,000 students, with approval for an additional 3,000-square-foot dormitory.
The two-story training center features an open bay to allow for flexible class setups and training classes of all sizes. The building also has classrooms and design studios that IMI will use to reach key external audiences, such as architects, construction managers and contractors. The flexible design will allow IMI to offer a wide variety of educational programs to these audiences, from intimate seminars to larger format sessions like Contractor College or hands-on Masonry Days that reach both local and national audiences.
"It really is BAC University," Flynn said. "It not only gives BAC a world-class training campus, but it will also strengthen masonry's position against other materials."
The beauty and strength of masonry materials are evident throughout the campus. Architect Stanley Tigerman, FAIA, of Tigerman-McCurry Architects in Chicago, left the masonry materials as exposed as possible, to "celebrate" their inherent qualities. The masonry construction avoided cuts whenever possible, to show masonry "done the best possible way," while plumbing and electrical systems were left uncovered, to "show how a building is made," Tigerman said.
The center also will host the annual Instructor Certification Program (ICP) and Supervisor Certification Program (SCP) courses for forepersons and supervisors, as well as Contractor College, where signatory contractors can sharpen their skills and keep on top of industry trends.
The spacious conference center also makes a perfect venue for high-profile events, such as the annual Masonry Camp program for apprentices and young architects held in August, and this September's International Apprentice Contest.
Other ongoing activities will include curriculum and standards development for all BAC crafts, and a living classroom for field testing new products and applications, and assessing the life cycle costs of materials. The latter activity "will let owners and developers get a clearer sense of their buildings' true cost," said IMI President Joan Calambokidis. The center is in the process of obtaining certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which oversees the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System™.
The state-of-the-art instruction and other programs offered at the gleaming new campus will augment, not detract from, local training programs, Calambokidis noted. "It gives local programs the best of both worlds, by keeping them up on the latest techniques and courses, and offering more than any one program could afford."
With all that the new center has to offer craftworkers, contractors and designers, said Calambokidis, "We are excited about masonry's future."
For more information or to arrange a visit, call 800-JOBS-IMI, or visit to www.imiweb.org.
About the Author
Hazel Bradford is director of communications for the International Masonry Institute (IMI) and a former Washington correspondent for McGraw-Hill and ENR magazine.. The IMI is a strategic alliance of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and their signatory contractors, providing skilled craft training and technical assistance to the design and building communities.