It seems like every-other week you hear about the state of our failing infrastructure, the crumbled aftermath from a recent earthquake or litigation for shoddy construction.
Concrete has been around for thousands of years, but over the last few decades, we have seen significant improvements and technologies that are changing how we build and what we build with concrete.
While I write this, I am spending some significant time in Europe with my family. I can’t help but be amazed by the design and age of the infrastructure surrounding me. And although you see stone everywhere you look, there are exceptional concrete structures created by the artisans of the region today. Artisans are engineers and architects, and they have harnessed the knowledge past down over the centuries including an appreciation of art, beauty, form and design and fused it with cutting edge contemporary science and engineering to create outstanding structures. Somehow they seem to blend these together to create new masterpieces for the 21st Century.
Europe is home to internationally renowned bridge designers such as Professor Michel Virlogeux who has designed more than 100 bridges including the record breaking Normandy Bridge, the pre-stressed concrete Avignon Viaducts for the French High Speed Train, and the celebrated cablestayed Millau Viaduct, designed with architect Sir Norman Foster which has received several awards.
Looking back a couple years to 2010, within two months both Haiti and Chile were rocked by earthquakes. The earthquake in Haiti devastated much of the country’s buildings and infrastructure and killed more than 200,000; while the 500 times more powerful earthquake in Chile killed 800 people and left most of the country’s buildings standing. There were many reasons for the greater damage in Haiti but a couple of the contributing factors were better implementation of building codes and the execution of more disciplined construction practices that saved thousands of lives in Chile.
With so much successful concrete construction, it makes me wonder about what we can do as a concrete community to help developing nations and share the accumulated knowledge of the industry.
I’m new in the role of Chair of the American Concrete Institute’s International Advisory Committee, but I can see a great opportunity for the Institute to continue to foster relationships in the global concrete community that helps to add value. Our part in this will be to seek out and listen to what is needed and to find meaningful ways to deliver and connect this message.
The concrete community has many global challenges, but there are passionate concrete professionals who are making a difference and would like to continue to contribute and give back to the global concrete community. This is an exciting time for the concrete industry.