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What is Architectural Concrete?

Updated: Mar 28

Naturally, this is often a question we get asked a lot. If you’ve worked in construction for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard the term “architectural concrete” before. But do you really know what it means and why it's important? Have you ever wondered about the history and importance of architectural concrete?

So, what is architectural concrete, exactly? At its core, architectural concrete is simply a specific type of concrete that has been designed and cast to be aesthetically pleasing in addition to being structurally sound. It is a material that can be molded into complex shapes, polished to a high shine, or finished with unique textures, colors, and patterns. It can be used for a variety of architectural elements, including walls, floors, ceilings, and even furniture. Architectural concrete has been around for a long time, dating back to ancient times. The ancient Romans, for example, used concrete to build some of their most iconic structures, including the Pantheon and the Colosseum. In the 19th century, the invention of reinforced concrete revolutionized the construction industry and allowed for even more complex and daring designs. In the 20th century, architects such as Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Tadao Ando used concrete in their buildings to stunning effect, helping to make it one of the most iconic materials of modern architecture.

The Reach at the Kennedy Center

Today, architectural concrete is used in a wide range of projects, from museums and art galleries to luxury homes and commercial buildings. One of the most significant benefits of architectural concrete is its ability to blend in seamlessly with surrounding natural environments. The material can be used to mimic the look of natural stone or wood, creating a building that looks as though it has always been a part of the landscape.

The Salt Shed

Another benefit of architectural concrete is its durability. It can withstand harsh weather conditions and natural disasters such as earthquakes, making it a popular choice for buildings in areas prone to these events. Additionally, concrete is a sustainable material that can be produced locally and has a long lifespan, making it an environmentally friendly choice for designers and builders.

Despite its many advantages, some architects and engineers may still be hesitant to use architectural concrete in their designs. Perhaps they have concerns about cost, or they worry that it will be difficult to work with. However, the reality is that modern techniques and equipment have made it less difficult to work with architectural concrete.

Architectural Concrete formliner pattern

So, if you’re an architect or engineer looking for a versatile, durable, and beautiful material to use in your next project, consider architectural concrete. Its rich history and many advantages make it a standout choice for buildings of all shapes and sizes. With modern technology and skilled professionals (raises hand), you can create stunning and unique designs that are sure to impress for years to come.

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