project features full cast stone
block, fluted column window
frames, 60 pound gargoyles,
copper gutters, wrought iron tree trellises and faux
dormer balcony, bronze reflective privacy windows,
and a unique roof made
of recycled tire rubber styled
to resemble textured slate.
giving an old building a facelift, contractor Mark Brick of
B&E was awarded the national Contractor of the Year award by
the National NARI organization in the category of commercial
exterior renovation. Although Brick is no stranger to the honorhes
won two times beforehe still believes that every project gives
him an opportunity to learn more about what he
The award-winning building is a
commercial property on Ogden and Humboldt on Milwaukees Lower
East Side. Brick described the before as a 1950s- era
building with no pizzazz or excitement going on. Granule
concrete panels covered the bland face of what was previously a
Medical Supply building.
The new owner really wanted to
make a statement with residential interior and commercial exterior
setting, Brick said. The architectural design was done by
Jim Schaffer. We wanted to give the building a sophisticated new
look. In the process, we encountered a few surprises.
Brick found that the outside was
about one and a half inches out of level. One of the walls was
higher than the roof. All of the windows leaked and the process
required gas and electric lines to be dug up and moved.
There was a double layer of
concrete for the floor that was about five inches thick, Brick
said. We had to break it up to run electrical.
But for Brick, the learning
experience came with the facelift to the exterior.
Thanks to the owner, we were
able to give that sophisticated look, Brick said. We worked
with cut stones on the exterior fašade, added gargoyles,
coverings over the windows, fluted casings around the windows and
concrete sills. We put up a Mansford roof with dormers and windows
to give a look to the second floor. There are wrought iron
railings around the windows, and wrought iron lattices that give
more dimension that just a flat look.
Exterior columns were added with
multiple areas of detailed moldings including both crown and
dental from the roofline down. Brick said the project required
1000 square feet of interior remodeling to create living quarters.
It is just an awesome looking
building now, Brick said. We used refurbished tire treads
for the roof that looks like a slate roof. The exterior looks like
a piece of art and so does the interior.
Brick said that the project also
afforded him a chance to learn more about working with the types
of stones the fašade required.
I dont think I ever had to
install stones ranging from 70 to 100 pounds before, he said.
It was totally unique and a lot of surprises, but Im happy
to say no cost overruns.
Brick thought the building made
such a dominant statement, that he submitted the project for
regional competition where he competed with contractors from seven
other states. After winning the regionals, he went on to the
national level. Brick thinks the photos depicting the before,
middle and after of the project impressed the NARI judges.
This was just a totally unusual
project, he said. It really made a statement. The building
now has a very dominant look. Id describe it as French
Provincial look with the Gothic influences seen in the gargoyles
and wrought ironwork. It is really sharp looking. NARI has its
judging criteria. They look for balance checks and they look at
the progress through the pictures. Were pretty proud of the
award because there are no runners up at the national level.
The project took about eight months
to complete. Brick thinks that the style overcame some of the
challenges such as the height of the buildingit is only a two
There was just so much we
learned from this job, he said. It was really a challenge.
We think of our business as one that does a quality job no matter
what the project is. It really makes us stand out. People
recognize that about us and that is where our reputation comes