The five honorees who significantly influenced the concrete industry in 2008 weren't chosen by the sophisticated polling methods we've heard too much about during the presidential campaign. We didn't ask our readers to vote for their favorite candidate either. Our choices evolved through a series of roundtable discussions with the Concrete Construction editorial staff and were based on our visits to numerous jobsites, attendance at conferences, and talks to countless people by phone throughout the past year.
Our choices this year include a contractor team who are challenged by high-rise construction every day; an architect who appreciates concrete as a building material and uses it in creative, cost-conscious ways; a materials specialist who likes to transfer research knowledge to practical applications involving concrete mix development; a consultant who has developed practical ways to specify gloss numbers for exposed concrete floors—popular with big box retailers; and a person whose influence in designing mixes extends to just about every project in the United States that uses mass concrete.
David Alexander and Dale Hendrix
When the subject of concrete is brought up, it's Dave or Dale
At a time when most companies are wondering where they will find work for 2009, McHugh's schedule is full, so long as their projects can secure the funding they need.
David Alexander is the senior vice president and Dale Hendrix is the senior vice president of concrete field operations for McHugh Construction, Chicago. Together, they have helped to make the company the biggest constructor of super-tall buildings in the United States, building five of the top 12 on the list maintained by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Trump Tower is one of their projects and is the tallest structurally reinforced concrete building on the list. Alexander focuses on management and estimating, while Hendrix manages field operations. Together, they create a great working climate. When you talk to employees, they note how much they like their work and how long they've been there. Some have never worked for anyone else. Hendrix is one of those. He started more than 40 years ago as a laborer and has never wanted to work anywhere else. Alexander celebrates his 23rd year, starting work as a project engineer after graduating from college in a construction management program.
Fascinating use of concrete as a design material
Jeanne Gang started Studio Gang, Chicago, in 1998. Today, they are a group of 35 architects and design staff with a national outreach in terms of projects. After completing a Masters of Architecture from Harvard University and gaining work experience in Europe, she came to Chicago to work for Booth Hansen Architects, teaching a “concrete studio” course at the University of Illinois. She credits the teaching experience for cultivating an interest in concrete as a material. This interest in materials caused her to start design work on a project by considering what materials to use in constructing the building.
Studio Gang is building a reputation for designing very creative and unusual building facades at reasonable prices. This isn't easy because curtain walls are usually one of the most expensive elements in a building construction. On the Aqua Building project for example, (see Going Up) they extended the floor slabs beyond the glass facade of the building in an undulating, irregular way to create the aesthetic architectural look of the structure. For another project, with the help of an engineering firm, they designed irregular openings in a solid, flat concrete shear wall wherever structural support wasn't needed, reducing the amount of concrete and reinforcing steel needed and providing the aesthetic appearance.