News - Page 2

Important Considerations When Buying Another Construction Firm


Buying another construction firm can be an attractive way to grow your company’s revenue base. A merger or an acquisition can allow you to:

  • Add a new subcontracting specialty,
  • Acquire an experienced labor force to reach new markets, and
  • Deepen your penetration into the market your firm already serves.

But there’s more to mergers and acquisitions than agreeing on a purchase price and signing the paperwork. For example, which employees should be made privy to the transaction? And how do you account for the purchase of your new division or subsidiary? Your legal, tax and accounting advisors can help you navigate the M&A process and employ the latest “best practices.”


Buying another construction firm can be an exciting proposition. It may be tempting to spread the news that your firm is “in the market” for a merger or an acquisition. You might even think this will boost morale within your firm, because your employees will share in your sense of impending conquest and enthusiasm.

However, best practices in the M&A process caution against discussing your purchase intentions or any of the details of a pending buyout. This is true whether an offer has been made or accepted — or if the purchase is only in the planning stage.

Employees see mergers and acquisitions in a completely different light than owners and key executives. Employees might become afraid, spread rumors and gossip, and speculate about “what-if” scenarios. Even the slightest leak in the acquisition process can snowball into a huge time-waster for your employees and can cause a public relations nightmare. It might also cause unrest among suppliers, customers, lenders and bonding companies.

Accounting for the Purchase

While you might not share your acquisition plans with employees and other stakeholders, never leave your accounting and legal professionals in the dark. They can be invaluable resources throughout the acquisition process.

After all, would you ask your accountant to design a second story addition to your home? Of course not! Accounting for a business combination is a specialized function that should involve your accounting and tax professionals.

Don’t be fooled into oversimplifying M&A decisions. An accountant who specializes in business valuations is uniquely suited to help with buy (and sell) transactions. Below are some examples of key accounting considerations in business combinations.

Mark the Dates

The closing date for a business acquisition is pretty obvious. It’s the date that the papers are signed and control transfers from the acquired firm to your firm. However, from an accounting standpoint, the closing process may not be “over” for another year. Additional accounting evidence may unfold in the months following a merger or an acquisition. Hindsight could impact how you report the transaction.

It is important that at the first year-end after the business acquisition that you consult with your accounting and tax professionals, who will make provisional entries that represent estimates of the remaining assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses that will be recognized in the coming year as a result of the M&A transaction. This proactive step may prevent you from having to restate your tax returns (or your financial statements) in a later year, which could be costly.

Consolidated Financial Statements Required

When one construction company buys another, separate locations may continue to be maintained and the newly acquired company continue to operate as a separate and distinct business unit. In fact, there may be significant liability, morale-boosting and administrative advantages to letting the newly acquired company continue to account for its own sales and expense transactions using the existing accounting systems and personnel.

However, from a tax perspective and to be compliant with standard practices for financial reporting for banks and bonding companies, it is often necessary to create and maintain a set of consolidated business and accounting records.

Some refiguring of the values of the assets and liabilities held by the target firm on the date of acquisition may be necessary. Once these new values are calculated for the consolidated financial records, any leftover intangible value may be booked to “goodwill.”

The goodwill account is a fixed asset that appears on your consolidated financial statements after a merger or an acquisition. It generally will not be questioned as long as your accounting, finance and tax professionals document the transaction thoroughly, completely and accurately.

Do It Right

Mergers and acquisitions provide exciting opportunities for growth. But these transactions can also be daunting, especially for construction firms who decide to handle legal and financial matters in-house. To make the most out of a business combination, consult with a team of legal, tax and accounting professionals as soon as you start shopping around. They’ve got experience in business combinations and can help you avoid potential pitfalls and mistakes.

Goodwill Accounting: A Choice for Private Firms

In November 2013, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) approved an alternative model for private companies to account for goodwill acquired in business combinations. The FASB is also considering alternatives to the existing goodwill impairment model for public companies and not-for-profit entities.

Old Method

Previously, private companies were required to test for goodwill impairment annually or upon the occurrence of a triggering event, such as:

Bankruptcy or out-of-court restructuring,

  • Loss of a key person or major contract
  • A major adverse macroeconomic event,
  • A significant increase in the cost of materials or labor, or
  • A significant reduction in the company’s cash flows compared to prior periods.
  • When the carrying amount of goodwill exceeds its fair value, impairment has occurred. Goodwill impairment requires you to reduce the book value of goodwill on the balance sheet and report an impairment loss on the income statement.

Alternate Method

Under the alternative goodwill reporting method, a private company can instead amortize goodwill on a straight-line basis over a period of ten years (or a shorter period if you can demonstrate that another useful life is more appropriate).

The only time companies assess impairment under the alternate model is upon the occurrence of a triggering event. Under these adverse conditions, a simplified, one-step quantitative impairment test may be required. The amount of impairment is calculated as the difference between the carrying amount of the entity (or reporting unit) and its fair value. Unlike the original impairment model, the alternative method doesn’t require a hypothetical purchase price allocation to isolate the change in goodwill.

The alternative goodwill model is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2014.

Our Little Haven to Dedicate Play Equipment Built by Lafayette High School Students


Little hands will soon be able to play chef on the playground at Our Little Haven, thanks to Geometry in Construction students at Lafayette High School.

This Saturday, May 8th at 10am, an all-weather toy kitchen will be assembled onsite at 4316 Lindell Boulevard, the headquarters of Our Little Haven. The nonprofit organization – founded in 1993 – provides a safe, secure and healing environment for those impacted by abuse, neglect and mental or behavioral health needs. At 11am Saturday, Our Little Haven’s staff and board members will cut the ribbon and dedicate the outdoor play kitchen.

“Not only did the Rockwood students design and build exactly what our staff was hoping for, they included their own creativity in building this resource that will be a staple on our campus,” said Chris Munoz, the organization’s development director. “Rockwood School District’s industrial arts instructor approached our organization a few years ago and asked if we had any needs that the district’s Geometry in Construction class might fulfill. We identified the kitchen. We had a well-worn one that wasn’t made to tolerate extended outdoor use. This kitchen is a wonderful addition to our playground and our kids will enjoy it and learn from it for years to come.”

More than 60 Lafayette High School students participate in the Geometry in Construction program, according to Munoz. “The program combines math and construction and is facilitated by a math teacher and technology teacher,” he said. “It allows students to apply real-world geometry, carpentry and design into sustainable, useful community projects. This program has provided tiny homes, sheds, benches, shelving units, dog houses and much more for local nonprofits in the St. Louis community.”

Steve Faust, chief storyteller at icon Mechanical, has served as a board member at Our Little Haven for seven years. His earlier work history includes 10 years as a carpenter. Faust says the Geometry in Construction curriculum represents another creative strategy for sparking high school students’ interest in the field of construction and giving them the chance to help a worthy nonprofit organization at the same time.

“Anytime we’re able to expose students to opportunities in the world of construction, it’s a win,” said Faust, whose employer regularly brings students, teachers and counselors through icon Mechanical’s shop to see mechanical contracting and engineering at work close-up.

Munoz said the St. Louis construction partners have been good to Our Little Haven.

“With budgets tight and margins thin, we truly appreciate the support of the construction industry,” he said.

For more information about this Saturday morning’s onsite play equipment assembly and the dedication immediately following, contact Munoz at (314) 669-9386.

Hankins Construction Builds on 75 Years of Excellence Launches New Brand


Hankins Construction is topping off its 75th Anniversary year by launching a new brand and updated logo, designed to reflect its reputation as a top Missouri building contractor focused on pre-planning and personalized attention.  The company’s new URL can be found at:

Founded in 1945 by the father-son team of George and Wade Hankins, Hankins Construction continues the family building tradition today under the new banner, “Hankins Construction. The Next Generation of Building.”  The company is led by fourth generation owners and brothers Stephen and Erik Hankins, who together, have more than 25 years’ full-time experience with the company.

The brothers were introduced to construction by their father, Dave, who served at the helm from 1980 to 2016.  “ We learned the business from the bottom up – working as teens under our father in the warehouse and on the job sites,” said Stephen Hankins, president, LEED® AP BD+C, who joined the company full-time in 2006. “The most important lessons we learned were ‘make sure you do it right the first time’ and ‘work safe’ so everyone can go home safely to their families.”

Stephen’s younger brother Erik, CM-LEAN, joined the company in 2011 and serves as vice president/project manager, leading the company’s lean principles.“Typical jobsites are filled with waste, and we are not talking trash, as defined by the LEAN principles this is any action that does not directly correlate the final completion. Once you develop an eye of these waste on a jobsite you can suggest time saving actions that will benefit the project greatly in the long run.”

Hankins Construction works in a number of markets, including municipal, educational, churches, healthcare, officer/retail, among others.  “We go where our clients take us,” added Stephen.  “And a lot of our clients are repeat customers who have built with us before.”
Recent projects include: Flint Hill Elementary Phase 2 and 3, Elsberry School District Campus Wide Additions and Renovations, Wentzville Middle School Kitchen and Cafeteria Renovation, and Workforce Development Center for the Lincoln County School District. 


Other major projects include the Pattonville Early Childhood Center; the United Methodist Church of Green Trails; a 90,000-sq. ft. renovation/addition to the Clayton Community Center and Natatorium; and firehouses for Valley Park, Northeast Ambulance and Firehouse, and the Spanish Lake Fire District.  The company also retrofitted a former Missouri Vehicle Emissions Inspection facility into a new YWCA Early Childhood Center at I-70 and Florissant Road. They also completed a new E-Sports classroom for Confluence Academy, paving the way for a whole new e-sports curriculum track at the school.

Another standout project was the new Hi-Pointe drive-thru restaurant on McCausland/Skinker Avenues, just north of I-64 and south of the Hi-Pointe Theatre on Clayton Road.  “We are fairly open-minded about challenges,” observed Stephen.  “When they told us they wanted to put pre-fab shipping containers on a very small site, we figured out how to do it, despite the tight site.  We like it when a client throws down the gauntlet and we can meet it.  That’s what makes our job interesting.”

The brothers believe that its relationships and personal touches provide the real value-add for clients.  “Our pre-planning approach and the amount of time and effort we devote at the beginning of a project really sets us apart,” added Stephen.  “New technologies also have had a tremendous impact on our industry, from design and building materials, to project scheduling and management.  In the future, we fully expect to see more drones, robots, artificial intelligence, and 3-D printing. But in the end, we believe it is the relationships and people who make a project successful. “

Hankins Construction currently operates out of 6,000-sq.-ft. offices in Overland and they hope to significantly expand their nearby 15,000-sq. ft. warehouse in the near future. For information, visit or call 314-426-7030.

Industry veterans Rob Jernigan and Emery Molnar Join Clayco in Los Angeles Expansion

Rob Jernigan

Clayco, a full-service, turnkey real estate, architecture, engineering, design-build and construction firm with headquarters in Chicago, announced today that the firm is expanding its operations and establishing a West Coast regional office in Los Angeles. As part of that expansion, the firm has hired esteemed industry veterans Rob Jernigan and Emery Molnar to join Clayco as senior vice presidents.

With revenue expected to exceed $ 4.5 billion in 2021, Clayco specializes in the “art and science of building,” providing fast track, efficient solutions for industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential related building projects. Clayco has completed several billion dollars of work on projects along the West Coast, and still has a backlog in excess of $2 billion in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.

Emory Molnar

“We have had explosive growth in all of our business lines on the West Coast and the time has come for us to go big,” said Clayco Executive Chairman/Founder Bob Clark on opening a Los Angeles office.

“Clayco has always pounced on opportunities created by industry setbacks and recessions; and with the shakiness of various markets and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the shareholders and leadership agreed that this investment is in the best interest of our customers and company. Rob Jernigan and Emery Molnar are critical additions to our team.”

An accomplished architect, practice leader and community mentor with over 30 years of experience, much of Jernigan’s work can be seen across a revitalized Los Angeles. As a managing principal at his former architectural firm Gensler, Jernigan’s award-winning projects include the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Wiseburn Unified School District and Da Vinci schools, The Ritz-Carlton Residences and JW Marriott at L.A. Live, Metropolis, The Broad, C3 in Culver City, and ICON Sunset Bronson Studios in Hollywood.  At Clayco, he will be senior vice president of integrated services and will be responsible for accelerating growth on the West Coast.

Molnar brings extensive leadership to Clayco’s West Coast expansion while having previously served in executive level positions at Gilbane Building Co. and Swinerton Builders in preconstruction, construction operations and business development. Molnar has successfully helped clients accomplish their visions in diverse industries including education, healthcare, hospitality, commercial and retail. As senior vice president for the Clayco Pacific Region Molnar will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors for ACE Los Angeles and as a board member of Women in Construction Operations (WiOPS).

Jernigan, after more than three decades working for the best architectural firms, said, “Both Emery Molnar, who comes from the building side, and I have always looked for the best results for our clients. We believe we can do better work by making the commitment to putting design and construction together the way in which Clayco has been so successful over the years.”

Added Molnar: “Rob and I are incredibly excited to be part of Clayco’s growth in the Pacific Region. I’ve long admired Clayco’s absolute command of the design-build industry, and I look forward to helping the company grow in these new target markets and, also, in new design-build verticals such as higher education.”

Helping lead Clayco’s West Coast expansion is executive vice president and shareholder Ryan McGuire. McGuire spent more than a decade of his career in Southern California with McCarthy Building Companies before joining Clayco in 2014. He returns to the West Coast having successfully led the Corporate and Mission Critical business units for Clayco.  Roberto Valdes, vice president of Industrial Pacific Region, will also help spearhead the effort; along with executives of the Lamar Johnson Collaborative, Clayco’s design arm.

McGuire said, “Los Angeles has one of the highest accumulations of intellectual and financial capital in the world and we see the area as a perfect fit for the Clayco platform to attract amazing talent to further the interests of our West Coast customers. Our value proposition is unique to those who would seek to join us, as we have an integrated platform across the entire real estate development, design and building spectrum and there are multiple ways to succeed and advance throughout the organization.”

The West Coast regional office will house group leaders from all of Clayco’s business units and subsidiaries. Its Los Angeles-based headquarters will be in Culver City, California. Clayco and its full-service real estate development entity CRG also currently have an office in Newport Beach, California.  

About Clayco
Clayco is a full-service, turnkey real estate development, master planning, architecture, engineering, and construction firm that safely delivers clients across North America the highest quality solutions on time, on budget, and above and beyond expectations. With $3.8 billion in revenue for 2020, Clayco specializes in the “art and science of building,” providing fast track, efficient solutions for industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential related building projects. For more information, visit

About LJC
LJC is the full-service design and architecture arm of Clayco and is committed to enhancing the quality of the human experience and to improving how design and architecture can impact each individual’s emotional being. By harnessing the power of integrated design — including architecture, workplace strategy, interior design, landscape architecture, urban planning and engineering. — the company achieves its clients’ goals and aspirations. For more information, visit

Construction Spending, GDP Reports Show Residential Boom, Nonresidential Decline, Steep Rise in Costs


Solely due to soaring residential activity, construction spending in March increased 0.2% from a downwardly revised February rate and 5.3% from March 2020 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.51 trillion, the Census Bureau reported on Monday. Because unusually mild or harsh weather can cause monthly totals to vary significantly early in the year, it is useful to compare year-to-date figures for January-March combined in 2020 and 2021. On that basis, total spending increased 4.5% but the disparity widened further between strong residential spending growth and diminishing nonresidential activity. Private residential construction spending jumped 21% year-to-date, with gains of 27% for new single-family construction, 15% for new multifamily, and 14% for owner-occupied improvements. Private nonresidential construction spending declined 9.8% year-to-date, with decreases in all 11 components. The largest private nonresidential segment (ranked by year-to-date spending)—power—slumped 9.3% year-to-date (including electric power, -11%, and oil and gas field structures and pipelines, -5.3%), followed by commercial, -4.3% (including warehouse, 3.2%, and retail, -23%); manufacturing, -9.0%; and office, -4.5%. Lodging had the largest decrease, -26%. Public construction spending slipped 1.8% year-to-date. The largest public segment, public education construction, slid 2.4% (primary/secondary, 2.4%, and higher education, -14%). Highway and street construction declined 4.6% year-to-date. Public transportation construction fell 1.8%.

Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (real GDP) increased 6.4% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in Q1, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported on Thursday, following increases of 4.3% in Q4 and 33% in Q3 2020, leaving real GDP 0.4% above the Q1 2020 level. Real residential investment in permanent-site structures leaped 25%, including investment in single-family structures, 31%, and multifamily structures, 4.6%. In contrast, there was a 4.8% decrease in real gross private domestic investment in nonresidential structures, including commercial and health care structures, -13%; manufacturing structures, -0.8%; power and communication structures, -10%; wells and mining structures, 60%; and other non-mining structures, -14%. Real government gross investment in structures declined 9.3%, including federal investment for defense structures, -24%; nondefense structures, -6.1%; and state and local structures investment, -8.9%. The GDP price index increased 4.1%, with price indexes for nonresidential structures investment, 4.0%; residential investment, 11%; and government investment in structures, 7.4%.

Notices of materials price increases continue to flood in. “In a normal year, Ron Whalen, vice president of Roger B. Kennedy Construction, receives one or two ‘Dear Valued Customer’ letters from suppliers notifying him of price increases for certain materials,” the New York Times reported today. “This year, a stack of 30 such warnings sits on his desk in Orlando, Fla., alerting him that things as diverse as lumber, drywall, aluminum and steel are going to cost 10 to 20% more.” Readers are invited to send information on materials costs and supply-chain issues to Readers this week sent announcements of steel price increases for steel and cement. AGC chief economist Ken Simonson will present his latest information with the chief economists of the American Institute of Architects and ConstructConnect in a free webinar on Thursday, May 6 from 2 to 3:30 pm EDT. Register here.

Construction employment, not seasonally adjusted, decreased from March 2020 to March 2021 in 203 (57%) of the 358 metro areas (including divisions of larger metros) for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posts construction employment data, increased in 104 (29%) and was unchanged in 51, according to an analysis AGC released on Wednesday. (BLS reports combined totals for mining, logging, and construction in most metro areas, to avoid disclosing data about industries with few employers; AGC assumes the construction-only changes in these areas match the combined change.) The largest year-over-year (y/y) losses occurred again in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (-31,000 construction jobs, -13%) and New York City (-24,000 combined jobs, -15%), followed by Midland, Texas (-10,000 combined jobs, -26%); Odessa, Texas (-8,000 combined jobs, -39%); and Nassau County-Suffolk County, N.Y. (-7,900 combined jobs, -10%). Odessa had the steepest percentage decline, followed by Lake Charles, La. (-35%, -6,800 construction jobs); Midland; Longview, Texas (-24%, -3,600 combined jobs); and Greeley, Colo. (-21%, -4,100 combined jobs). The Seattle-Bellevue-Everett division had the largest y/y gains (5,300 construction jobs, 5%), followed by Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind. (4,300 construction jobs, 8%); Austin-Round Rock, Texas (4,000 combined jobs, 6%); Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade (3,200 construction jobs, 5%) and Ogden-Clearfield, Utah (3,100 combined jobs, 15%). Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz. again had the highest percentage increase (35%, 900 combined jobs), followed by Fargo, N.D.-Minn. (24%, 1,800 combined jobs); Cleveland, Tenn. (16%, 300 combined jobs); Niles-Benton Harbor, Mich. (15%, 300 combined jobs) and Ogden-Clearfield. Nine areas set new lows for March and 36 set new highs, in series dating in most cases to 1990.

Total compensation (wages, salaries, and benefits, including required employer payments) in the construction industry rose 0.9%, seasonally adjusted, in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, compared to 0.6% in both Q4 and Q1 2020, BLS reported today. Wages and salaries in construction also rose 0.9% in Q1 2021, vs. 0.7% in Q4 and Q1 2020. Over 12 months, compensation increased 2.7%, vs. 3.1% in the previous 12 months, while wages and salaries rose 3.0%, down from 3.5% in the previous 12 months. BLS does not break out benefit costs for construction, but the fact that total compensation increased less than wages (2.7% vs. 3.0%) indicates that benefit costs rose less rapidly than wages. For all private industry employees, employer costs over the past 12 months increased 2.8% for total compensation, 3.0% for wages and salaries, and 2.5% for total benefits (including 2.1% for health insurance).

North Medical Group Project Highlight & Panel Discussion


CREW-St. Louis invites has announced an exciting virtual tour and discussion with Leonard Volner, Neil Volner, Christi Johaningmeyer and Geoffry Crowley as they walk you through their newly constructed dispensary in Pevely. They will share with us the journey to select, design and open this medical marijuana location. They will go behind the scenes of this stunning facility and discuss the challenges that face this type of operation, such as legal and tax implications, marketing, design, construction. They know you’re curious, so please register and get the exclusive that went into this striking location!  
include: Zach Mangelsdorf, President – North Medical Group LLC, Leonard Volner, Vice President – North Medical Group, LLC, Neil Volner, Director of Marketing & Procurement – North Medical Group, LLC, Christi Johaningmeyer, President – Architextures SP Interior Design
Geoffrey Crowley, Principal – Verve Design Studio
Teri Samples, Director of Real Estate and Construction Services for Mueller Prost will moderate.
*50 swag bags will be available (first come, first serve) courtesy of Working Spaces and North Medical

Date: May 11th | 4 – 5 p.m.
Registration: Complimentary, Members | $25, Nonmembers

Luxury 156-Unit Multi-Family Development Near The Meadows in Lake Saint Louis Receives Zoning Approval


The Meadows Luxury Living, a new upscale, 156-unit multi-family development in Lake Saint Louis has received zoning approval. The new development will add an amenity-rich, high-end housing option and community greenspace to the area and will support local retailers. Located on Technology Drive, across from The Meadows at Lake Saint Louis shopping center off Highway 40, the project is being developed by St. Louis-based Mia Rose Holdings and Jim Cook, IMOs Pizza franchisee and co-owner of Sugarfire Smokehouse. Construction will break ground this June and is scheduled to complete April 2022.  

“The Meadows Luxury Living is thoughtfully designed with extensive amenities and gathering spaces to satisfy the increasing desire to live, work and recreate close to home,” said Tom Kaiman, Founding Principal of Mia Rose Holdings, LLC. Kaiman and Cook teamed on The Junction, a highly successful, mixed-use development in Wentzville, MO, and recently received zoning approval for The Prairie, a large mixed-use development in neighboring Dardenne Prairie. “Western St.Charles is one of the fastest growing areas of the state. Several closeby corporate headquarters drive the demand for high-end, multi-family housing yet currently there are limited options.”

The Meadows Luxury Living will feature ample recreational and gathering areas including a resort-style pool and sun deck, outdoor lounge with fireplace, community BBQ and picnic area, clubhouse, specialty coffee bar, well-equipped fitness center, bike racks and greenspace with lush landscaping. Residents will enjoy pet friendly community policies and complimentary Wi-Fi. 

The 131,425-square-foot development’s 48 two-bedroom units and 108 one-bedroom units will be spread across five, three-story buildings. A beautiful palette of building materials will give an attractive, high-end appearance that blends with The Meadows and other nearby buildings. Features include cast stone architectural accents, architectural shingles, ornamental balcony railings, brick masonry veneer and decorative exterior lighting sconces. 

Each unit will feature a granite kitchen peninsula and countertops, subway tile backsplash, high-end flooring, washer and dryer, a private patio or balcony with storage, energy-efficient vinyl windows and patio doors, large bedroom and linen closets, stainless steel appliances, granite bathroom vanities and nine-foot ceilings. The two-bedroom units average 1020 square feet and the one-bedroom units are approximately 785 square feet. 

The general contractor is St. Peters-based Wright Construction and the architect is Rosemann & Associates, P.C. The property manager will be 2B Residential, the same firm that manages the Grand Central at the Junction multi-family development in Wentzville.  

Founded in 2014, Mia Rose Holdings LLC (MRH) is a Chesterfield, MO-based commercial real estate development company that actively acquires and develops real estate to support the needs and vision of local communities. In addition to multi-family and mixed-use developments, MRH has a strong niche developing and consulting for ice rinks and other athletic facilities. This expertise grew out of Tom Kaiman’s professional hockey career playing for the Arkansas Riverblades, Baton Rouge Kingfish and Lowell Lockmonsters. For more information about Mia Rose Holdings, visit

Veterans for Wolf Branch Committee Hosts Groundbreaking at Middle School for New Veterans Plaza


A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week at the Wolf Branch Middle School construction site for the new Veterans Plaza. Located on the east side of the school, the Plaza is designed to honor those who have served in the six branches of the armed forces.

Jim Wilson, retired Veteran and President of the Veterans for Wolf Branch Committee, said the idea for the Wolf Branch Veterans Plaza began in late 2019, following a Veterans Day Salute hosted by the school. Then the pandemic placed everything on hold.

Shovels into the ground to begin construction of the new Wolf Branch Veterans Plaza. Pictured from left to right: Jim Niemeyer, Holland Construction Project Superintendent; Ben Menke, Holland Construction Project Engineer; Drew Patterson, Wolf Branch Student Representative; Stacey Sommerfield, Wolf Branch Middle School Principal; Neville Delatour, Wolf Branch Student Representative; Adeliz Delatour, Wolf Branch Student Representative; Scott Harres, Wolf Branch Superintendent; Easton Patterson, Future Wolf Branch Student Representative; Tim Hammond, USMC, Veterans for Wolf Branch Committee Secretary; Jim Wilson (R) USA, Veterans for Wolf Branch Committee President; Brian Dayton, Holland Construction Project Manager; Steve Duff, (R) USAF, Veterans for Wolf Branch Committee Treasurer; Frank Wiseman, Ittner Architects; Jason Smith, Ittner Architects.

Wilson said the committee has been soliciting pledges to fund the construction of the Plaza.

“No taxpayer funds are being used to construct the Veterans Plaza; it is being funded entirely by donations from the local community,” said Wilson. “While we have not yet reached our funding goal, the Veterans for Wolf Branch Committee would like to thank all who have so far given generously to support this effort.” 

The plaza will consist of the flags from each of the branches of the military, a large monument dedicated to all past, present, and future Veterans, and an area for visitors to reflect on the services of all veterans.

The Plaza was designed by Ittner Architects and is being constructed by Holland Construction Services.  Holland is also continuing the addition and renovation construction project at the Middle School. Both projects are scheduled for completion this summer.

For more information on the Wolf Branch Veterans Plaza or to make a pledge, visit

Illinois Tech Wins Department of Energy Net Zero Building Design Challenge


Illinois Tech architecture and engineering students joined forces to win a Department of Energy competition designing a retail building that produces as much energy as it consumes

An interdisciplinary team of architecture and engineering students from Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) have won the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon in the Retail Building Division. The collegiate competition challenges the next generation of building professionals to design high-performance, low-carbon buildings powered by renewable energy.

The interdisciplinary team of students from the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering and the College of Architecture designed a functional retail building that produces as much energy as it uses over the course of a year: Net Zero energy. The winning Illinois Tech team designed the Nook, an 82,000 square-foot mixed use retail space located for a real vacant lot at the crossroads of Goose Island and Old Town in Chicago. Students; analyzed the cost, environmental impact, energy performance, and durability of the building while ensuring the building meets the real needs of the surrounding neighborhood and is in keeping with retail trends, to achieve economic as well as environmental sustainability.

According to DOE analysis, buildings currently account for approximately 74% of electricity use, 39% of total energy use, and 35% of carbon emissions in the United States.

The team focused on achieving a zero energy target by integrating passive and active engineering and design strategies including: building daylighting, natural ventilation, night purging, a well-insulated and airtight building enclosure, high-efficiency equipment, appliances and fixtures, a ground source heat pump, radiant floor and ceiling panels, HVAC control automation, a green roof and a roof-mounted photovoltaic system. The resulting design forms an environment that fosters high retail volume, a positive energy consumption impact, and community engagement.

While engineers have studied building operations systems as a means to reduce a building’s energy loss, this interdisciplinary project between Armour College of Engineering and the College of Architecture is a unique approach, melding disciplines to find a comprehensive, useful and beautiful solution to a common problem.

“Learning to integrate the design of building energy and environmental systems, driven by engineers, but within the context of architectural form and function has the potential to make big impacts on people with minimal impacts on the space,” says Professor and Department Chair of Armour College of Engineering’s Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Brent Stephens. “Only with the combined efforts of architects and engineers can we really come up with both clever and realistic solutions to shared problems.”

“I was happy that the students chose to participate in the retail division because it was a new category this year,” said Edoarda Corradi Dell’Acqua, faculty advisor of the competition, and Lecturer of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering who teaches Net Zero Energy Home Design as part of the new Master of High Performance Buildings, a joint Armour College of Engineering and College of Architecture program. “Both the architectural design and the engineering design were very comprehensive. The students didn’t just propose a typical retail store, they really tried to think about the future of retail—will people still buy in person? Do they have to?”

The area surrounding the site has eight schools, and the need for a community center as well as modern retail convenience such as hybrid traditional retail and e-commerce fulfillment centers formed an inherent part of the design from the outset.

“The Nook is a non-traditional split-level retail building tailored towards fostering a sense of community with the surrounding schools and their students,” said team member Margarita Ramirez-Rodriguez, Architectural Engineering student in the Armour College of Engineering.

The building was designed to be operational year-round, with a rainwater collection system that feeds the green roof, sensors to adjust lighting and conserve energy, and a solar array that feeds excess energy into rechargeable batteries.

In addition to its role as a lasting community center, the facility can also be used as an emergency shelter with rechargeable batteries that can be used to power the building during power outages, peak electricity hours, and at night. If in case of an emergency, like a brown out, the building would cut down its power usage by 75%.

The unique sawtooth design of the roof is inspired by the historical factories surrounding it, but can also allow for daylighting, rainwater collection, and ventilation. When open, the roof’s shape and orientation channels the W-E prevailing winds, producing a passive negative pressure for enhanced exfiltration.

“The north side of The Nook has a large reflection pool, giving children and parents a fun place to relax as well as cool off from the hot Chicago summer sun, easily drained in winter or if, for example, a farmers market wanted to occupy the space during summer,” said Tian Li, PhD student in the College of Architecture at Illinois Tech.

Students collaborated with faculty members from both Armour College of Engineering and the College of Architecture, including faculty advisor Edoarda Corradi Dell’Acqua, Brent Stephens, Mohammad Heidarinejad, Laurence Rohter, Raymond Lemming, and Sachin Anand and received technical guidance from Brett Horin.

The student team worked with a range of industry partners including ASHRAE Illinois Chapter, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), dbHMS, Larson & Darby Group, SCB, Baumann Consulting, Cushing Terrell, Elevate Energy, Passive House Institute US, and zpd+a Architects.

The full student team consists of: Heather Pecho, BS Chemical Engineering, ME Environmental Engineering (team lead); Mina Geng, PhD Architecture; Chris W Hurlbut, M.Eng. Architectural Engineering; Donghyun Lee, PhD Architecture; Tian Li, PhD Architecture; Kohl Linder, BS. Architectural Engineering; William Polenc-Busby, BS Architectural Engineering M.Eng Structural; Margarita Ramirez-Rodriguez, Architectural Engineering, ME Building Systems; Alouki Shah, Architectural Engineering ME Building Systems; and Jacob D. Sorenson, Architectural Engineering ME Building Systems.

More renderings and images of the design are available for use in publication, please contact Petra at for full resolution images:

About Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused research university. Illinois Tech is the only university of its kind in Chicago, and its Chicago location offers students access to the world-class resources of a great global metropolis. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law. One of 22 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities, Illinois Tech provides an exceptional education centered on active learning, and its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Illinois Tech uniquely prepares students to succeed in professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Visit

Home Builders Association Donates $15,000 to Living Well Foundation


The Home Builders Charitable Foundation (HBCF), charitable arm of the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri (HBA), donated $15,000 to the Living Well Foundation to benefit Camp Jump Start. The donation will be used to install a central HVAC system at one of Camp Jump Start’s main buildings housing campers and staff. 

Living Well Foundation’s mission is to create healthier individuals/family units through experiential learning across the life cycle. Camp Jump Start is a whole health camp that jumpstarts success. Staff address and transform the whole health of every participant – physical, emotional and social. Participants accomplish results they never thought possible; receive a second chance to live a healthy, happy and hopeful life; and leave camp with the confidence and skills to continue their success at home.

The HBA is a local trade association of more than 600 member firms representing the residential construction industry. The Home Builders Charitable Foundation, the HBA’s charitable arm, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing housing assistance to people or organizations with special shelter needs.