The Will County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is responsible for coordinating the emergency and disaster mitigation, preparedness, planning response and recovery efforts of the County in conjunction with the State of Illinois and other entities. The agency was previously operating out of two separate buildings that were not their own, housing their vehicle fleet as well as a training program there. For several years, Will County had been working to consolidate many of its functions in one central location and had already constructed a new Sheriff’s Office and Division of Transportation on county-owned land. In 2020, Will County opened the EMA facility. The building is constructed using Echelon’s InsulTech System, which had recently been used successfully on another County project.

“They were pleased with their experience with InsulTech and liked the durability of the product,” said Danielle Appello, associate principal and project designer with Wight & Company, the architect for the project. “The EMA had the same type of use as their other project, where a large portion of the building is dedicated to equipment storage, so it made sense to use the same material on both.”

Echelon’s InsulTech combines structural CMU, EPS foam insulation, air/water barrier and exterior veneer into a single 12 ¼-in unit, delivering above-code energy performance without sacrificing the masonry aesthetic. Its pre-assembled single-wythe insulated masonry units offer ease of installation, as it is assembled in just a single pass, meeting all necessary components of masonry construction. The product also features stainless steel “Fire Integrity Straps” that guard it from major fire and wind events alike.

The EMA building is located on the same site as the Will County Animal Control facility designed and planned by Wight & Company concurrently with EMA. The shared site planning helped reduce costs for these two facility additions and the adjacent existing buildings, which created an overall Will County agency campus.

“The existing Sheriff’s Office really set the tone for the design since it was the largest building on the site,” explained Appello. “Additionally, the EMA was going to be a tall building visible from the road, so we wanted a really polished feel and some personality at the front entry.”

The design of the building is modern, but the mood it conveys was inspired by the fields and natural environment of its surroundings. “The horizontal elements of the building reflect a lot of the lines seen on the prairies in the area, giving it sort of a modern farmland approach,” said Appello “We were able to create variations and a textural approach with the different masonry units that helped break down the building’s scale.”

Wight and Company looked at the range of Echelon products available for use with the InsulTech, preferring a smooth texture for this building. Echelon’s Trendstone ground face masonry units were used most prominently. On the front of the building, Appello explained they chose to use contrasting colors Granite Gray and Sandstone to make it stand out from the other three-quarters of the structure. “We relied on that interplay of color and texture to highlight the offices and training component, so people knew where to enter and where the activity was in the building. The rest of the building used the Granite Gray as a stand-alone so that kind of recedes in the background.” Echelon’s Mesastone textured masonry units in Shadow Gray is used as an accent between the building’s office and storage bay areas.

The approximately 11,500 square foot building opened in February, 2020. Being purpose-built, the center was designed specifically for the number and sizes of vehicles the county owns. The flow of the offices was also carefully thought out. The building now houses a Mobile Command Vehicle and other fleet vehicles used in emergency situations. The climate controlled, seven-bay vehicle storage area provides ample space for the fleet and accessory support such as battery charging and dispatch notification. There are also a training room, kitchenette, and support offices with direct access to the vehicle storage area.

With InsulTech, Wight and Company was able to achieve efficiency and durability with an all-in-one system to achieve a look that is beyond a standard CMU building because of the range of colors and finishes available. “This was our first time designing with InsulTech and we’d definitely use it again,” said Appello. To learn more about the InsulTech masonry system, visit Echelon Masonry.