University of Oklahoma???s Headington Hall

Words: Dan Kamys

Case Study >>> Brick and Block

Construction Start: May 2011 Construction Completed: June 2013 Construction Manager: Flintco, LLC. Oklahoma City, Okla. Construction Cost: $54 million Masonry Cost: $4.6 million Masonry Contractor: Sun Valley Masonry, Phoenix, Ariz. Brick Manufacturer: Acme Brick Cast Stone Fabricator: Oberfield Precast, Phoenix, Arix. Architect of Record: Studio Architecture P.C., Oklahoma City, Okla.

Headington Hall is the culmination of five years of planning, design and construction of a new residential hall for the University of Oklahoma Norman Campus. The building was privately financed by the Intercollegiate Athletics Department to be a new home for student athletes (49% of the occupants), with the rest of the population to be general students.

This six-level, 230,000-square-foot facility provides 384 dormitory beds, academic commons, a dining hall with a private dining room, a game room, media commons, a formal living room and a 75-seat theater. A mixed-use facility, retail space is located on the ground floor as well. The sixth level houses a banquet room with large pre-function spaces, a catering kitchen and an exclusive club room.

The building design was generated by Studio Architecture P.C., located in Oklahoma City, Okla., and consulting architect Newman Architects LLC of New Haven, Conn. University project manager, Dennis Glover, and the director of architectural & engineering services, Michael Moorman, required that the architecture be compatible with the historic “Cherokee Gothic” buildings on campus. This meant designing a masonry veneer of brick and cast stone.

Studio Architecture began working with construction manager Flintco LLC’s Oklahoma City office under the project management of Kirk Mammen to adhere to budget and schedule constraints. During the bidding on the masonry work, great concern over the cost of the work and the quality of the masonry subcontractor was voiced.

On bid day, Sun Valley Masonry out of Phoenix, Ariz., was the low bidder. From Day 1, Sun Valley Masonry had a vision of what this project was going to be. Under the management of Robert “Ducky” Baum, president/owner; Don Voight, stone operations/ coordination; and Jonathan Stone, onsite superintendent, the project started to become a reality.

All the precast stone elements were engineered and fabricated at Oberfield Precast and coordinated by Randy Wheelis. Unique shapes and huge pieces of stone were needed, including four eight-feet-thick x 20-feet-tall pointed arches at the main entry of the building, and soaring gothic spires. Ducky Baum oversaw all of the actual construction and quality assurance, assuring everything was constructed properly.

The building also was mandated to achieve a LEED certification, so the veneer detailing was designed with continuous cavity insulation using adjustable relief angle anchors at each of the floor lines holding the relief angle off the structure. This would allow the insulation to run uninterrupted, except for the anchorage points, effectively thermally isolating the veneer from the rest of the structure and building envelope.

The entire masonry veneer took 15 months to complete with more than one million modular bricks, hand set with cast accents, and four-story-tall cast bay windows around the building perimeter that had exacting tolerances.

The overall impact of Headington Hall, both functionally and architecturally, will reinforce the continued recruitment and attraction of top academic talent as well as high-performing student athletes. Upon completion, Headington Hall assumed its place on the university among the other distinguished building on campus. Sun Valley Masonry has since completed top-notch renovations to the baseball and football stadiums.

Patrick Schoenfeldt is an architect with Studio Architecture P.C. in Oklahoma City, Okla. He can be reached at

Bio File:
Robert Born Jan. 18, 1942, Robert “Ducky” Baum grew up on a small farm near Morton, Ill. As a young man, Ducky and his family worked hard milking cows by hand, tending to the chickens, pigs, sheep and 40 acres of tillable ground. Ducky’s father, a German immigrant, began a small masonry business to help feed his growing family, today known as Otto Baum Co. Inc. Each of four Baum boys – Mel, Wayne, Ducky and Kenny – worked in the masonry business with their father during the summer months. Each started as a laborer tending bricklayers and, eventually, enlisted in the bricklayer apprenticeship program. Around 1955, it became obvious that the small family farm would not support the needs of the growing Baum family. More emphasis was placed on the masonry operation, which had grown to between 10 and 15 employees. In 1956, after completing four years in the U..S. Navy, Mel began to take over management operations of the masonry business, with assistance from his father, Otto, and his three brothers. Within five years, the company grew from 15 employees doing primarily residential masonry to more than 100 employees performing larger commercial projects. As each of the brothers became fully engaged in the business and estimating support staff members were hired, the company grew to more than 300 employees, offering concrete services as well. In 1969, Mel headed up the concrete division, Wayne had started a small general contracting division, and Ducky had taken over management of the masonry operations, assisted by Kenny. During the next eight years, the company grew. In 1982, with the potential growth opportunities in the Southwest and a still-challenging economy in the Midwest, Ducky moved to Phoenix to head up the field operations and Kenny took over the Illinois masonry operations with Kurt Baum, Mel’s son, assisting. Ducky worked with Ken Nessler who, in 1978, had secured work and formed a crew of masons and laborers in Phoenix. After overcoming a serious spinal injury, Ken took over all the estimating, marketing, and office administrational duties of the company and a became a key component to the success of Sun Valley Masonry (SVM). During the next 26 years, Ducky and Ken Nessler and their team experienced tremendous growth in Arizona, before the economy hit the brakes in 2008. During their 26-year growth period, Sun Valley Masonry employed as many as 700 employees and has maintained the rank of the largest mason contractor in Arizona for more than consecutive 18 years. Ducky and the SVM team in Arizona decided to target some projects in the Oklahoma City area in 2009. Building on the experience and quality of SVM, Ducky and the team were able to secure work in a challenging economy and begin operations in Oklahoma City and surrounding communities. Since 2009, SVM has performed more than $12 million in masonry work within the Oklahoma market. In August 2012, SVM officially opened a third office in Stillwater, Okla. Robert “Ducky” Baum has excelled from those early years on the farm and the lessons taught by his parents. He has persevered to maintain Christian values and a good work ethic, and to treat people fairly and respectfully, while providing a tremendous product to the customers he serves.
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