Masonry Camp

Please enjoy the gallery.

Here's my summary from directly after the event:

To: Patrick W. Reardon, Jr.
Kim M. Franklin

From: Keith McCluskey, MIT

Report on Masonry Camp 2001

Dear Patrick and Kim;

First, let me say thank you for sponsoring my trip to Masonry Camp.
It truly was a remarkable experience, and a great benefit to me as an

By way of a report, let me comment on what I thought were the
highlights of the camp. First and foremost for me was the
collaboration with the workers in the actual design and construction
of the piece. In just four short days, our team of six designed a
building, and built a small piece of it at full scale. This is
tremendously rewarding. Rarely in architecture do you get to see your
work realized at full scale, and almost never do you have a hand in
that realization.

I appreciate brick now like I never have before: where I used to see
it as a homogenous material, I now see worlds of possibilities in the
different bond types and brick patterns. This realization would not
have been possible had I not had a hand in the actual building of the
piece. Watching one of our bricklayers puzzle out the bond patterns
he intended to use, and discussing with him the architectural
consequences of these moves, was an incredibly rewarding experience.

Along with the realization of the piece was the time spent with the
workers. The cross-cultural learning that took place was tremendous.
We were able to shatter the stereotype of "the stupid architect versus
the dumb jobber". When you have a team of people who truly love what
they do, the work that they produce can't help but be tremendous, and
the respect between them is easily created.

It was very interesting to learn about their work, and the culture of
their work. I had never really realized that they work, on average,
only four days a week. And the physical hardships they endure are
incredible, and sadly, often debilitating. But through it all, their
love for the materials and the work is very evident. And spending a
week together, the architects were able to learn that the builders are
just as human and just as sympathetic as we are. Ultimately, we all
want the same thing: a quality building. It is imperative then that
we learn to communicate better, and as an industry learn to respect
each other and value an exchange of ideas, rather than one-way

IMI assembled a tremendous team of instructors, who gladly showed us
their trades. This instruction was excellent, and served as a good
primer for the work that was to come. And the workers themselves were
very eager and proud to teach us their trades. They had no problem
letting us work on the final piece, and were very understanding of our
mistakes. IMI should be commended for putting together such a
well-run camp. It is tremendously well organized, and very well
staffed by enthusiastic people who are proud of their work. It was
easy to learn in an environment that was so well arranged.

Finally, at the end of camp, the pride in the work was evident in the
faces of all the participants. And the bonds that had been made were
equally evident. I think every worker and every architect should have
to attend such a camp, not for the skills learning, but simply to
learn to understand and respect each other. This, for me, was the
greatest result of the camp.

Thank you again for your sponsorship. If you need anything else from
me, don't hesitate to ask.

Sincerely yours,

Keith McCluskey, MIT