Proj Overview

Project Overview

St. James Catholic Church in Belvidere, Ill., is a local landmark, dating to 1886. By 2012, the church had become outdated and could no longer accommodate everyone who worshipped there.

The church required a significant expansion in seating capacity and upgraded facilities. With additions totaling more than 13,000 square feet, church officials wanted the new structure to reflect the historic look of the original building.

Precast Solution

The architectural design team used architectural precast concrete panels with a custom formliner to replicate the existing brick appearance on the new spaces. They comprise a two-story north addition of 5,200 square feet per floor, a three-story, 2,730-square-foot stair/elevator tower, and a 175-square-foot steeple tower at the entrance.

A customized formliner replicated the original distorted brick. The precast was stained using a multi-color stain system, keeping the mortar joints as the base concrete color. Portions of the panels were also clad with natural stone.


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Project Team

Architect and Engineer of Record

Larson & Darby Group 

General Contractor

Rockford Structures Construction Co. 


St. James Catholic Church 


Mid-States Concrete Industries

Key Project Attributes

  • The addition onto the church had to reflect its historic, 120-year-old character in its appearance.
  • The project was value-engineered from brick and CMU with a steel frame to load-bearing precast concrete walls and hollowcore plank to be more cost effective.
  • A tight site required close coordination to deliver materials as needed in the proper order.
  • Custom formliners were used to replicate the appearance of the original brick.

Project/Precast Scope

  • 13,000 square feet of additions onto the original 4,600-square-foot church.
  • 4,874 square feet of hollowcore plank.
  • 18,726 square feet of precast concrete wall panels in 77 panels.
  • Three precast solid slabs.