As any lightweight concrete contractor knows, the innovating techniques of modern concrete construction stand on the foundation of centuries of history and many renowned structures built by people from both distant and modern times adapting concrete to their needs. The milestones and innovations in concrete are a part of a long arc in construction that leads us to not only the streamlined and efficient use of concrete today, but the exciting advancements in concrete we can expect in the future.
The modern conception of concrete with its basic elements of Portland cement, aggregate, and water has been around almost 200 years; however, its ancient precedents can be traced back even farther. Around 6500 BC, the Nabataea people of southern Syria and northern Jordan utilized a nascent conception of concrete in their lime mortar to create necessary elements of their structures like floors, walls, and underground cisterns. The Egyptian pyramids were constructed with an early version of concrete, the most well-known example of these construction techniques being the Great Pyramid of Giza. Though they primarily used mud and straw bricks, they also used a concrete-like mortar made of gypsum and lime, about 500,000 tons of it, which also acted as a bedding for the casing stones which make up the visible exterior of the pyramid. One of the most notable of the ancient examples of concrete is the Pantheon, which features a 142 ft. diameter dome of unreinforced concrete. The Romans were prolific builders of concrete structures, and used a mixture of stone aggregate, volcanic ash, lime, seawater, and even “admixtures” of animal products like fat, milk, or blood.
The Hoover and Grand Coulee Dams were monumental examples of concrete construction, using 3,250,000 yards and 12 million yards of concrete, respectively. In the Hoover Dam, the massive blocks of concrete that were poured were veined with 1-inch pipes through which river water was funneled to decrease the temperature of the concrete and aid in curing. Several decades later, the first concrete-domed sports arena, Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center), was constructed at the University of Illinois in 1963. The massive dome, considered a marvel of engineering, is 400 ft in diameter and weighs over 10 million pounds. A much more recent construction, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, is similarly considered a remarkable feat of concrete construction. At 2,717 feet tall, the building used 431,600 cubic yards of concrete and 61,000 tons of rebar. When the building stands empty, it has a weight of 500,000 tons – about the same weight as the mortar used in the Great Pyramid at Giza.
Conco’s goal is to be the top supplier of concrete services in the Western U.S. and to bring our expertise and professionalism to each project. We continue to upgrade and expand our facilities to better serve the growing market for commercial, industrial, educational, parking structure projects and other development. For the best value and quality, trust your project to one of the area’s leading lightweight concrete contractors.