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Brick Industry Association Referenced in Des Moines Hotel Discussion

As the City of Des Moines debated the merits of full brick vs. thin brick on a proposed hotel, the Des Moines Register looked to the BIA for input.


Heartland Brick Clarifies Brick/Thin Brick Differences Regarding Des Moines Hotel



In Omaha, Rosenblatt Stadium Dies but Clay Pavers Live On

Brick's color fastness, warmth, and authenticity deliver long term value -- even after its first installation. Concrete products (left and right) can't make the same claim.Even though the stadium is being demolished and its materials disposed of, Rosenblatt's clay pavers won't see a landfill.  The pavers are being carefully removed, stacked, and prepped for resale.  This is just one of many instances where brick pavers have demonstrated value beyond their initial installation. The Champaign, IL Public Works Department bought nearly 300,000 clay pavers reclaimed from an East St. Louis stockyard in 1999.  Despite many offers from other municipalities to purchase part of the stockpile (which is now valued at three times Champaign's $0.55/per brick purchase price), the City is not selling. The pavers have a higher calling -- maintenance and repair of Champaign's historic brick streets.

Click here to read the story about Rosenblatt Stadium in the Omaha World Herald.

For more information about clay paver applications, installation and maintenance, follow these links or visit our clay paver gallery:

Brick Industry Association clay pavers web page

Paving Systems Using Clay Pavers (BIA Tech Note)



When a Stone Facade is Not a Stone Facade

Suppose a developer promises a "stone facade" on a structure he wants to build in your community. Sounds good, but do you really know what that means?  Over the last 10-15 years, a great deal of the "stone" applied to strip malls, big box stores, hotels, and homes all over the U.S. has been a manufactured product made of colored concrete rather than natural quarried stone. So what's wrong with manufactured stone? Well, every product has its advantages and disadvantages.  What's important is that your community has the opportunity to honestly weigh those factors in light of its vision and goals.
Beyond quality and durability concerns, planners should also be sensitive to inauthenticities that manufactured stone lends itself to. Obviously, it is an imitation product to begin with, but its thin veneer nature also encourages its use where heavy natural stone never would have been possible, like unsupported gables and dormers. The resulting look exposes the building as an imposter.
Questions to ask developers/builders who want to use "stone":
  1. Is the stone in your proposal natural, or is it made from concrete?
  2. Will the stone in your proposal be stacked upon the building's foundation for durability?
  3. Will your building's facades utilize cavity-wall construction for water management?
  4. How will the appearance of the stone product you propose change over time?  Will the pigments fade? Will the concrete aggregate be exposed by weathering?
  5. What is the anticipated life span of your structure?
Questions to ask yourself (or your community):
  1. How important is it that this project be truly authentic in its design, and not seem contrived in any way?
  2. Will the public be happy with the look of this building the day after it is complete?  How about 30 years after it is complete?
  3. Could the developer/builder do better with little to no extra cost? Has the builder considered the life cycle costs of maintenance and repair?
  4. Does the developer/builder seem to have the same long-term interests as the community?
If you'd like more information about any of these issues, or about building materials in general, please contact one of our AICP planners for free assistance. 866.644.1293 or

Realtors Know Brick is a Difference Maker (originally posted 4/27/10)

This article in The Des Moines Register demonstrates that curb appeal is a big factor in home sale speed and price, and that brick’s appeal to buyers is fairly universal.  Do you have a glut of homes for sale in your community?  Homes selling below market or assessed value?  How many of those homes are clad in brick rather than other materials?

It’s a fact that home owners over the last 10-20 years had little choice in the materials used on the homes they bought from tract builders, which is why we now have subdivision after subdivision filled with cheaply-sided homes indistinguishable from their neighbors.  Design standards could have prevented that.

I know, I know — no one wants the local government telling home owners how to build their homes because we want to preserve choice.  But, how much choice has the average home buyer had when picking a new subdivision home?  By using design standards to insist that developers build with quality and variety,  communities can ensure choice and provide neighborhoods that are more resilient to economic downturns.

Aaron Steele, AICP