The Agora Town Center is a one-of-a-kind office and retail structure, in large part because of its stone facade and castle-like turrets. Kraemer Brothers' skill in masonry ensures that this key design element accomplishes what owner, Bill Linton of Orion 7, LLC, envisioned. Linton wanted a structure that would not be obsolete in a decade or two–one that would emulate the centuries-old quality of a European stone structure. The project's three buildings contain 22,000 square feet of retail space and 62,000 square feet of commercial office space. Natural stone is featured on turrets, arched walkways, pillars and some interior walls.
By personally scouting for the right quarry throughout Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, Kraemer Brothers 86-year-old CEO, Norm Kraemer, took a leading role in locating the right stone and overseeing how it was laid. In an interview during the project, Linton said Kraemer was involved in making sure the colors, the material selection and delivery were all done on time and matched the needs of the project. "He was very deliberate about the quarries we were looking at, their capabilities to produce the stone, and their craftsmanship in giving us exactly the materials we needed for this project."Linton also said that on several occasions he went to the construction site to find Kraemer walking the site, talking with workmen and masons, making sure the workmanship was in accordance with Linton's vision.
The method used for the masonry at Agora Town Center gives the stones the appearance of having no mortar joints. Linton had visited Europe and California where he saw this style in practice. Kraemer, the company's masonry foreman, and the project crew masterfully duplicated this unique style. Tim Buechel, co-owner of Buechel Stone Corp., watched the stone being laid and was so impressed he wrote Kraemer Brothers a letter: "As a person in the industry who will look at and critique a lot of masonry jobs, I will tell you that I am in awe of the craftsmanship that I observed."
Construction of the Agora Town Center is the crowning achievement of Kraemer Brothers' work for Orion 7, which spans almost 20 years. "In every project that we've been involved with Kraemer Brothers, we've not only seen great attention to detail and great attention to quality throughout the entire project,"Linton said, "but also personal commitment and involvement of leadership from the top down to every employee in the company."
When the project was conceived, Linton's desire was to create an environmentally friendly structure that in 500 years would remain a landmark in construction, like the centuries-old structures in Europe and Asia that inspired the design. With Kraemer Brothers at the helm, his vision is off to a fantastic start.
Project of the Year Winners
See the winning projects in other categories.
Project of the Year Category: Eiteljorg Museum
- Best Institutional Project & Reader's Choice Award Winner: Mainland High School
- Honorable Mention: H&R Block Global Headquarters
- Reader's Choice Award—Honorable Mention: MARSA Inc. Office & Warehouse Building
- Best Fireplace Project: Zirpke Fireplace
- Best High-Rise Project: Harbor's Edge
- Best Historic Restoration Project: Squatters Pub
- Best Landscape Project: East Shore at the Woodlands
- Best LEED Project: St. Louis Community College
- Best Multi-Family Project: Mill Quarter
- Best Residential Project: Compass Pointe
Didn't get a chance to see all the 2007 entries for the Project of the Year contest? Click here to see them now!