Insulated masonry system helps Illinois police station open ahead of schedule

The police station’s two-story lobby also serves as a social space for the community.
The police station’s two-story lobby also serves as a social space for the community.

Designers initially considered natural stone but pivoted to manufactured stone veneers after assessing the material’s ability to save costs without sacrificing beauty. To accentuate the natural aesthetic, the design also called for the placement of wood beams in long, linear lines on the exterior to complement the masonry and the surrounding woodland scenery.

Leopardo recommended using a 25-mm (1-in.) stone veneer with the natural look of limestone and integrated color throughout the stone. This achieved the natural aesthetic about a third the cost of natural stone, while also offering the low-maintenance, long-lasting qualities needed for a high-traffic building like the Glen Ellyn Police Station.

For this project, Tallman chose an insulated concrete masonry system to deliver thermal performance, moisture protection, natural aesthetics, as well as a simple one-step installation rather than the traditional three-step process required for a structural wall, insulation or air gap, and exterior veneer.

“By using the pre-assembled system, the project team achieved long-term performance and protection over the originally planned steel framing and infill block design. It is a value-added engineering solution combining structural masonry, an integrated air and moisture barrier, insulation, and exterior veneer in a single 311-mm (12 ¼-in.) unit. Throughout the building, the system provided flexibility, performance, and a beautiful esthetic,” he said.

He noted it also eliminated the need to build separate structural and veneer walls, allowing one mason to install four layers in one pass. Fewer products mean faster installation time, thereby freeing up a general contractor’s (GC’s) schedule and helping to deliver the structure ahead of time.

The three layers of the insulated concrete masonry assembly.
The three layers of the insulated concrete masonry assembly.

The pre-assembled system offered the Glen Ellyn station protection from moisture penetration, fire, impact, and delivered true ci rated at R-16.2, well exceeding the R-13.3 rating required by the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for climate zone 5.

Tallman adds, “It also was a big cost benefit to the owner not to spend money on poured concrete for the detention area, which they would have had to do, and then also pay for a finish.”

The west elevation of the building’s entranceway utilized the 25-mm limestone-look veneer installed as 4 x 4 x 24 units, including a 65/35 percent blend of randomly placed ground- and chisel-face veneers to optimize the shadow lines provided by the afternoon sun. At the building’s center, 8 x 8 x 16 buff-colored ground units and veneers in ‘maple’ hue create a subtler effect, while a random color blend of 8 x 8 x 18 long accent stone veneers in dark-colored and tan ground units were applied to create a bold, salt-and-pepper effect for the rear portion of the building.

With the project coming in under budget, the village was able to install elements that had originally been removed from the plan, including a fence, security cameras, and storage units.

The workflow of the new station is much improved. To make sure the building did not impede interaction among police officers and administration, designers created a general hub area.

“We refer to it as ‘forced collision’ because there are spaces such as the staff entrance and the break room that everyone in the building will at some point of the day pass through or stop in,” said Tallman.

To make the police station a true community asset, its two-story lobby serves as a social space with a 175-person capacity. This room carries the natural aesthetic inside, and windows are placed to maximize park views. The windows also automatically tint when the sun streams through. This space has become so popular the village had to restrict groups from making standing reservations years in advance to allow enough opportunity for everyone to use it.

“Police stations should be a place where residents feel comfortable talking to a police officer if something bothers them,” said Tallman. “This building’s open and welcoming style makes the officers within it more approachable.”

The centralized location, strategic layout, and design that complements the natural elements of the park setting better meet the police and community’s needs for the station. They are also more in keeping with what the village intended decades ago.

“The original building converted from a school was never intended to be the permanent police station,” said Tallman. “This is long overdue for the village and its residents and we are happy to have helped them finally achieve it.”

Dave Jackson is the brand manager for Echelon Masonry at Oldcastle APG, a CRH Company. Coming from an ad agency background with a specialization in building products, Jackson melds creativity and industry intelligence to help the Echelon team remain the premier provider of modern masonry solutions to architects and builders across the United States. He can be reached at

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