To Heitkamp Masonry, The Meadows at Lake St. Louis was, “a true mason contractor's dream.” The open-air shopping center is built around two landscaped boulevards, with a downtown-style street grid. Its specialty stores and restaurants are located on St. Charles County's I-40 corridor, an area that has grown with recent residential and infrastructure development, and whose population is expected to increase 15% in the next five years.

The project consisted of six buildings totaling more than 260,000 sq ft, as well as two pylon signs at both ends of the 80-acre site, two main entry monuments, three smaller location monuments, and central plaza with a large clocktower, stage area, and masonry walls and piers. It was enough to keep 35 of Heitkamp's masons and 16 tenders busy for 15 months.

As with all dreams, the masons soon woke up to the reality of the job's challenges.

Originally, designers planned for masonry walls on three sides of each building, with a front wall made of steel beams and columns with brick veneer. However, the owners insisted on loadbearing masonry and CMU backup for the entire structure, including masonry columns, moment frame walls, and tie beams.

This design required ingenuity on the part of the engineers and masons, as it meant using more steel reinforcement than they would for a typical one-story shopping center. Masons placed 1600 yards of masonry grout and more than four miles of rebar in the 8-in. CMU walls. Some of the columns required more than 16 vertical #9 bars. “We required more grout and reinforcing steel in these buildings than I've ever used before,” said Mike Heitkamp, president of Heitkamp Masonry. (This says a lot, considering Heitkamp also built Busch Stadium.)

To coordinate all of the steel and grout requirements and identify potential problem areas, the masons met with engineers before they got to work. They reviewed each process and translated everything into shop drawings.

One of the most critical details was adding tie beams over the storefronts, which span up to 28 ft. To construct the beams, the masons set up shoring and laid the wall to ½ the beam height, grouted, and repeated the process. After 21 days, the shoring was removed and, in most cases, the roofing was already installed.

Coordinating the construction of the brick and limestone walls posed its own challenge. Nearly 100,000 pieces of cut limestone had to be placed throughout the walls, to create a stone base, transom window sills, and intermediate and high banding.

The masons also tested their expertise on the building's highly detailed stone and brick designs. They crafted masonry offsets, returns, and 45-deg angles, as well as extensive stonework. The architect chose rubble stone for the entry gates, signs, and decorative columns. The fieldstone look ties the new development to the surrounding land, which had been a farm field.

The amount and variety of materials required for The Meadows indicates the scope of the project: 175,000 concrete masonry units, 280 tons of rubble stone, 580,000 modular face brick, 30,000 cu ft of cut Indiana limestone, Cast Stone medallions and address blocks, and precast planter urns.