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    ​​​Kole Construction delivers on high-end design goals

    Kole Construction installed Senergy's Insulated Masonry Veneer System at a new state-of-the-art residential high rise at the University of Illinois.




    ​A force in the region from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Kankakee, Illinois, and from Rockford, Illinois to Hammond, Indiana, Kole Construction Company, Inc. is a well-known and respected presence in the competitive building industry of the greater Chicagoland area, with more than 5,000 residential, industrial, commercial, office and other buildings successfully “Kole Built.” Founded in 1988 as a family business, Kole is known for working hard to become a partner and stakeholder in the success of every project, with up to 500 union professionals on the team and a reputation for long term, hands-on experience and the utmost attention to both quality and safety. As the company’s leaders like to say, “we create relationships, not just purchase orders,” and indeed, hundreds of architects, designers and building owners throughout the region have seen that philosophy in action first hand, and have been coming back to partner with Kole again and again on their most demanding building projects for more than three decades. 

    That relationship-building philosophy was readily apparent recently during the construction of the gorgeous new state-of-the-art Dean Campustown student apartments at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Everything about the 18-story project was to be first class, from the spacious and contemporary living spaces to the luxury amenities to the eye-catching, multi-cladding façade. And it was with the latter that Kole made its mark.

    Gorgeous brick veneer—and energy efficient building performance

    Any builder can relate—designers and owners will often push the limits of possibility, and then look to the real-world skills of the onsite team to “get it done.” It’s a challenge that quality-driven contractors like Kole relish, working hard to rise to the challenge time after time.

    According to Igor Bogun, Senior Project Manager and head of Kole’s Plastering Division, the Campustown project—referred to as “The HUB” in its early stages, called for an aesthetic look featuring four stories of brick adjacent to 14 stories of traditional EIFS—and yet also called for the optimum energy efficiency and R-value appropriate for a state-of-the-art luxury residential building. 

    Bogun notes that to achieve these goals, a building envelope with “true continuous insulation” would be called for—not often seen where brick meets EIFS and requires puncturing the air/water barrier with fasteners to accommodate. 

    “Every time you put a fastener through insulation yo​​u create a thermal bridge that can bring the outside temperatures right inside,” explained Bogun. “On a cold morning in Chicago you can even sometimes see the condensation building up on the adjacent walls.” 

    This was a situation that the designers and owners wanted to avoid, and looked to the Kole team for guidance. Fortunately, Bogun had recently been briefed on a revolutionary cladding system soon to be released by his long-term building materials manufacturer, Senergy by Master Builders Solutions. The innovation called, Senergy Insulated Masonry Veneer System, allows the installation of thin brick, stone or other masonry veneer without the need for mechanical attachments or fastener penetration. The secret? Master Builders Solutions’ proprietary innovation, MaxGrip Veneer Mortar​—a uniquely formulated, high-strength mortar that holds material with unprecedented adhesive strength.

    “You bring something extraordinary like this out to the construction team and you seem like a rock star,” said Bogun. “Going up the ‘chain of command,’ we first presented it to our general contractor J.H. Findorff & Son. They saw the benefits right away and were instrumental in bringing it to the architects and building owners. Soon, everyone was onboard and excited about including this new innovation on The HUB.”

    The result—a state of the art building beautifully representing the designers’ vision out front, with an unbroken, high-performance, continuously insulated barrier protecting it underneath, eliminating thermal bridging. And the ease of installation of the Insulated Masonry Veneer System​ helped ensure that the building was delivered right on time, with the contractor team meeting the “Heads in Beds” goal of August 1, 2020—leading to the further satisfaction of customers up and down the line.

    Kole Construction and Master Builders Solutions—better together

    Bogun notes that Kole Construction’s early knowledge of the Insulated Masonry Veneer System stemmed from their long-term partnership and outstanding relationship with Master Builders Solutions. While the system might be a technological leap, Bogun and his team have long been fans of more traditional Master Builders Solutions products as well.

    “Many times, products from different manufacturers are pretty similar, but personal preferences can give one the edge over another, and we seem to find a lot of those with Master Builders Solutions products,” Bogun said. “For example, Senergy’s base coat dries harder than other manufacturer’s and my guys love that. It’s less buttery, and overall allows you to prep better for the next step. Speaking of which, their finish coat has less pigment and more aggregates which makes it easier to trowel, so we can get the job done faster and more efficiently—and deliver better aesthetics too in our opinion.”

    However, he says, it is Master Builders Solutions service—supported by their local distributor, EMJ Senergy of Chicago, that makes them stand out even more. 

    “Their service and willingness to partner with us are far and away better than anyone else,” said Bogun. Some manufacturers view you as ‘just another guy who buys your product,’ and I never get that feeling from Master Builders Solutions. Between them and the local distributor, I get the personalized, hands-on support that helps me be more productive, efficient and ultimately successful.”

    When asked for examples, Bogun immediately speaks to things like reliable delivery—the right products at the right place and time—as well as adds, the importance of the informed and responsive technical support he receives.

    Bogun and Kole Construction was also excited to participate in the Wall Systems Master Contractor Program by Master Builders Solutions. The program is the first-of-its-kind in the industry focused on helping contractors elevate their application skills, learn about innovative products, and enhance project productivity and profitability. Kole Construction is proud to successfully complete the program and achieve 2021 Master Contractor status with Master Builders Solutions.

    Bringing the architectural vision to reality

    “Some jobs are more basic and cookie cutter, but many, like The HUB, have unique situations that are more ‘interesting.’ The architects we work with in Chicago are very creative and are always looking to push limits and we want to help bring their vision to life. That means you might need a greater understanding and insight from the manufacturer as to how a particular product might react in certain circumstances and how best to use it to bring the design and functionality together in the real world project. And, every time, whenever we need a little extra expert insight, the Master Builders Solutions team is right there onsite, working beside us and providing one-on-one expertise whenever and wherever we need it.”​ 

    Bogun notes that the Dean Campustown “HUB” project is just the latest example of the “we got your back” level of technical support that Kole Construction has received from the Master Builders Solutions team.  And, while it was Kole Construction’s first use of the Insulated Masonry Veneer System, considering the expressed delight of everyone down the line—from general contractor to architect to owner—it certainly won’t be their last. Indeed, he said, Kole has already specified the system in tandem with other Master Builders Solutions products on a number of upcoming building projects. 

    “With the Master Builders Solutions team, Insulated Masonry Veneer System and MaxGrip Veneer Mortar, I think that these type of multi-clad, beautiful and continuously insulated energy efficient buildings will become increasingly common throughout Chicagoland,” he said. “And we look forward to being a part of that exciting trend.”​​​

    ​Project Summary


    General Contractor



    The Dean Campustown takes the college living experience to the next level. Conveniently located in the center of Campustown and near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the student apartments bring together spacious apartments with modern finishes, a range of luxury amenities, and various on-site retail options. The high-quality finishes extend to the exterior design. The apartment building exterior uses Channeled Adhesive CI Design over 94,000 sq. ft. and MaxGrip Veneer Mortar to adhere 6,000 sq. ft. of thin brick without the use of mechanical attachments. The fully integrated, innovative wall system is a single-soure solution with continuous insulation, air/water-resistive barrier and drainage for optimum heat, air and moisture control.​​