Reinforced Concrete Ushered in the Building Boom of the 20th Century

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While concrete has been used to build structures as far back as the Roman Empire advances in the last couple of centuries have made it possible to create today’s impressive concrete structures. In fact it was during the 19th century that one of the most significant technological advancements was made with the development of reinforced concrete in 1849.

François Coignet, a French industrialist and pioneer in structural, prefabricated and reinforced concrete was the first person to use iron-reinforced concrete “as a technique for constructing building structures.” One of his significant projects was to build a four-story reinforced house in the suburbs of Paris in 1853. He describes the process as more of a method to keep the walls in monolithic construction from overturning rather than as a technique that provides strength to the structure.

Just a year later, William B. Wilkinson, an English builder, reinforced both the concrete roof and floors in a two-story house he built. From an engineering standpoint, “his positioning of the reinforcement demonstrated that, unlike his predecessors, he had knowledge of tensile stresses.”

Within a couple of decades, Joseph Monier, a French gardener and one of the principal inventors of reinforced concrete exhibited his invention at the Paris Exposition of 1867. That same year he received a patent for iron-reinforced troughs for horticulture that consisted of mixing a wire mesh to a mortar shell. He was given another patent for a more advanced technique of “reinforcing concrete columns and girders with iron rods placed in a grid pattern” in 1877.

It is believed Monier understood that reinforcing concrete would improve its inner cohesion. “The important point of Monier’s idea was that it combined steel and concrete in such a way that the best qualities of each material were brought into play”. Monier is credited with designing the first iron-reinforced cement bridge built in 1875 and constructed at the Castle of Chazelet. Please read our next post to learn more about the developments of reinforced concrete and how the technology help to spur the building boom of the 20th century.

The Conco Companies are a leading supplier of concrete services for the Western U.S. and got our start in the Bay Area in 1959 by offering clients the best value on a wide range of concrete services and products. Since that time, we have taken a leading role as one of the top concrete contractors in the region. Our offices serve California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.





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