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Strength, Durability and Beauty

Echelon Provides it all for New Milwaukee Preparatory Academy



Opened in 2017, St. Augustine Preparatory Academy is a new-construction, K-12 non-denominational Christian school located in Milwaukee’s south side. Echelon was chosen as a construction partner working with Milwaukee’s Korb + Associates Architects to supply the masonry units used to help bring the company’s vision to life.


The Challenge

Korb + Associates’ goal was to create a modern, vibrant school building that encouraged education, while also being durable enough to take the wear and tear doled out annually by its kindergarteners through 12th-grade attendees.


The Solution

Echelon’s Trendstone® concrete masonry units (CMUs) proved to be the perfect product to anchor the new structure. Trendstone® CMUs are pre-finished and integrally colored with one or more faces ground to expose the variegated hues of the natural aggregates. A factory-applied clear satin gloss acrylic accentuates the natural beauty of the aggregates while also providing moisture resistance.

“Trendstone® CMUs and schools marry very well,” stated Gina Jones, Echelon Sales. “The product ensures that schools get the value and durability needed along with nice aesthetics for a beautiful setting that promotes learning.”

Jones also explained that Trendstone® is unique in its durability so designers have the opportunity to use the product both at grade, as well as below grade. The CMU also plays very well with other exterior claddings if architects choose to incorporate different materials to accomplish a specific design style.

Randy Wilhelm, Architect with Korb + Associates, echoed Jones’ comments. “Because it’s a K-12 school, we were definitely concerned about durability,” he stated. “Along with being durable, the block is attractive, and we were able to use three different colors, which gave us a nice palette to work with resulting in a number of unique design elements.”

The Korb + Associates team used the Trendstone Burnished finish in three separate colors in structural (8” depth) and veneer (4” depth), as well as a few half-high units to provide a random pattern in some areas. Inside the building, Korb + Associates utilized the product as an interior finish and implemented another heavier color as a baseboard block combined with metal panels and glass to lighten up the forms. The block was used as an option on doorways and other areas that needed extra strength and durability.

In the commons area, pods were used that feature a slight overhand detail and a return corner, as well as stacked coursing, rather than a running board. In the largest, most prominent element of the facility, Korb used the darkest block to create a four-story tower that frames a cross form on the front entry facing the interstate. The ingress serves as both a welcome to visitors and symbolizes the Christian tradition in which the school is rooted.


The Result

Trenstone® not only looks great, but it also installs easily in a single step. Unlike competitive blocks, its ships with an extra coating from the factory, which helps to repel moisture and clean away graffiti. The gloss acrylic also keeps a mason’s mortar from seeping into the CMU. Installers simply wipe it off with a fabric, which means less chemicals to clean and a greater value across the board.

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