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    ​​​Forconi-Bongiorno, Inc. creates beautiful brick façade, at great value for new upscale​ AC Hotel Charlotte Ballantyne​

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    ​​Some might say that Frank Bongiorno and Ray Forconi were taking a risk when the two journeyman plasterers from upstate New York moved to North Carolina, Frank in 1993 and Raymond in 1996 and started an exterior cladding and waterproofing business. Indeed, they note that they found themselves diligently “schlubbing the product themselves" for the first year or so, but, as word of their strong work ethic and “do it right" philosophy grew, so did demand for their services. With ongoing repeat business from many of the area's leading general contractors, Forconi-Bongiorno, Inc. today leads crews comprised of dozens of tradesmen, and their work can be seen on some of the most high-profile commercial buildings in the region. With many more projects in the pipeline, both Forconi and Bongiorno's, relocation seems to be a gamble that has paid off well for their company, and area general contractors and owners as well.

    One such Forconi-Bongiorno, Inc. success, just recently opened for business in 2021, is the high-profile Marriott AC Hotel in the upscale Ballantyne Village area of Charlotte, North Carolina. The project, a 16-story, modern European-style structure boasting large picture windows giving guests a stunning far-flung view of Charlotte and the surrounding suburbs, was a top tier, well-publicized build. The project, including RBA Architecture and general contractor Archer Western Construction, LLC, also called for an emphasis on value engineering—meeting the high-quality design specs at the lowest life cycle cost. Certainly, not an unusual request any time, much less in mid-2020, at the height of the unknowns and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Adding to the challenges, both Forconi and Bongiorno note, was the fact that the building, while new, was being “dropped in" among an already bustling restaurant and shopping area which would continue to operate during hotel construction. In fact, the hotel was to be built literally connected to an existing theatre and restaurant complex. 

    Drawing upon decades of experience, these and other challenges proved to be readily workable for Forconi-Bongiorno Inc., due to the presence of a fully capable onsite Superintendent along with experienced and conscientious work crews, they successfully completed the job on time and on budget. Indeed, crew management and extra efforts such as utilizing vacuum-attached rasps to capture debris and help keep the surrounding area clean, led to accolades from the general contractor and owner alike. However, they note, they felt strongly that they were never in it alone. Their team at Master Builders Solutions, including local distributor Circle Supply of Charlotte, were continually behind them with products and support that helped them deliver on the demands of the AC Hotel Charlotte Ballantyne—just as they had been through many other projects stretching back two decades. 

    Using Senergy's SenerBrick delivered beautiful results at a fraction of the cost of traditional brick

    To meet the needs of the project that called for the aesthetics of brick on a strategic portion of the building, while keeping costs lower, traditional brick was specified for the ground floor, while for floors 3-10, SenerBrick, a specialty acrylic finish technique, part of the Senergy line of architectural finishes from Master Builders Solutions, was specified.

    One of many finishes in the Senergy line, SenerBrick uses a specialized finish application technique with stencil over the base coat on the wall to create a brick-like look and texture​

    “It looks like a continuation of the brick—there is no way from the ground that anyone can tell the difference," said Bongiorno. 

    Yet, the savings can be significant. Unlike traditional brick, lightweight yet durable SenerBrick requires no extra steel lintels, concrete, or other costly structural integrity-related materials to support it. And unlike traditional brick, there are no penetrations caused by brick ties to mediate. 

    Overall “SenerBrick probably costs 60-70% less to get on the building than traditional brick and goes up in about half the time in a vertical construction project," noted Forconi. 

    The SenerBrick finish technique was applied over Senergy's Channeled Adhesive CI Design, a fully integrated wall system, including a fluid applied weather barrier, expanded polystyrene foam insulation (CI), drainage matt and tracks, base coat with mesh, and an acrylic finish, all formulated to work together in tandem. 

    And while the SenerBrick product allowed Forconi-Bongiorno, Inc.  to deliver the look of brick in a high value way, the Master Builders Solutions team also helped the contractors deliver for their customers through their constant support throughout the job. 

    For example, since the hotel was being erected in a very high-traffic area, stakeholders looked for very robust measures of surety. Among them, the hiring of third-party inspectors, as well as a startup site visit followed by biweekly and monthly reports to be filed by the CI wall system supplier, Master Builders Solutions. 

    “This was certainly an extra demand on their time, but our Master Builders Solutions rep always came out as scheduled, no problem, and filed the required site observations and field reports," said Bongiorno. “It's just another example of how Master Builders Solutions is a great partner who is always willing to go the extra mile every time." 

    Delivery, they note, was also a heightened challenge during the job. The busy area had congested streets as well as minimal laydown area for supplies, necessitating frequent small deliveries—often on Saturdays or afterhours. Nevertheless, the Master Builders Solutions team and distributor Circle Supply was right on top of every need. 

    In addition, the contractors were impressed by the outstanding product availability they experienced—extremely unusual and highly welcome during the height of pandemic-related supply challenges. 

    “We saw a lot of suppliers on other jobs run out of materials, and on this job, other trades on the site—drywall, painting, steel, plumbing, electrical, roofing products and more—were constantly getting hammered by supply shortages," noted Forconi. “But not Master Builders Solutions. We never once got a call where they were lacking this or lacking that. Just good planning, I guess. They were always able to keep the products coming. And that's typical for them." 

    Outstanding experience with Senergy by Master Builders Solutions overall

    Both Forconi and Bongiorno note that they weren't always Senergy experts. In fact, they were most familiar with another brand, until, about 12 years ago, they experienced a big change to their business when their distributor started carrying the Senergy brand. 

    “We had used the other brand for about a decade and were very familiar with applying it, so of course we were a little nervous about the change, but we needn't have been," noted Bongiorno. “Circle Supply is a reliable and knowledgeable partner and they would never steer us wrong."

    Indeed, it didn't take long for the Forconi-Bongiorno. Inc. team to become delighted with the change. 

    “We quickly saw how superior Senergy was. For example, the mesh embeds very well in the base coat, and the viscosity is such that the mesh can be hidden in just one pass, which is a big change from the other brand. Our crews liked that right away," noted Forconi. 

    “The finish coat is also terrific," added Bongiorno. “A lot of finish coats are gummy and they drag on the wall and you don't get a very consistent float. Senergy just goes on really smooth. Of the components in a wall system, other suppliers might have some good and some not so good. But not Senergy products, it's the only brand where every individual component in the system is truly excellent." 

    In fact, they say, they would rather not use anything else. 

    “At this point, about 85% of our work is Senergy, and if it is not specified, we strongly recommend it and usually the decisionmaker will switch because they will get better results," said Forconi. “In fact, I think one of the reasons the GCs in town keep coming back to us is because we are always conscientious about doing everything possible to get them the best outcome possible, and the Master Builders Solutions team is a big part of that. Frankly, I don't think we can say a bad word about them if we wanted to."​

    ​Project Summary

    Architect

    Contractor
    Forconi-Bongiorno, Inc.

    General Contractor

    Distributor

    Panorama Tower is a stunning 14-story vertical mixed-use development that brings together a 186-room AC Hotel by Marriott, nearly 100,000 sq. ft. of office space and a rooftop restaurant in one building to the Ballantyne community in Charlotte, NC. When only the best will do, the design team selected to use Senergy’s Channeled Adhesive CI Design for the building exterior. The premium system is known for its seamless integration of continuous heat, air and moisture control layers as well as aesthetic versatility. ​​The building exterior incorporates SenerBrick, a specialty acrylic finish technique that creates the look of brick.