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50 West Street_Ring Beam glowing

Flexibility in building design is a sought after commodity for those tasked with the construction of our structural landscape. Choosing the right building materials and products can allow architects the freedom to erect stunningly unique buildings that fit seamlessly within a community. Furthermore, strategic choice of materials enables the design of structures for practically any soil or seismic condition, allowing designers to build creatively without sacrificing safety.

Concrete is the most used human-made building material in the world, and is used twice as much as all other building materials combined. One of the many reasons this is true is because of its design flexibility. The possible shapes, dimensions, and aesthetic possibilities of concrete allow it to fit into almost any design.

However, this design flexibility is only a benefit of concrete when the structure itself is built durably. Concrete is a durable material, but is limited in its ability to thwart the ingress of water, which can have devastating effects on a structure. Therefore, a waterproofing solution is vital to not only ensure the durability of the concrete through blocking the passage of water, but also in allowing the full design flexibility that concrete offers.

50 West Street_rooftop terrace

Traditional waterproofing methods like an externally applied membrane do block the flow of water, but come with installation challenges and can restrict design flexibility. A natural solution is to add an internal waterproofing admixture, such as Kryton’s Krystol Internal Membrane (KIM), to the concrete, pre-construction. The crystalline admixture is added to the mixture, transforming the concrete itself into a waterproof barrier and allowing for maximum creativity in a concrete structure’s design.

50 West Street_skyline renderOne instance of this highly sought-after design creativity is New York City’s 780 ft (238 m) tall 50 West Street residence, located in revitalized downtown Manhattan. The 54 story tower, designed by acclaimed architect Helmut Jahn (JAHN), includes 191 condos, as well as an array of duplexes and residences with double height living rooms.

One stand out feature of 50 West Street is its rooftop Ring Beam (pictured above and left). The suspended concrete ring wraps around the skyscraper’s Observatory, creating a striking halo against the New York City skyline. Architects specified KIM as the concrete waterproofing solution for the ring beam. KIM not only keeps the ring beam waterproof, but also allowed the designers the artistic freedom to construct a feature of the building that would have otherwise been impeded by the use of traditional waterproofing methods. With KIM, the ring beam is waterproof, corrosion resistant, and will have an enhanced serviceable life due to its increased durability.

50 West did not go unnoticed by the design community, receiving a Concrete Industry Board (CIB) Award of Merit in 2016.

New England Dry Concrete is the master distributor of Kryton products to the Northeastern United States including New York City.

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