The Strategic Development Council of ACI was formed partly to foster innovations within the concrete industry. Here are a few of the things discussed at the February meeting in Atlanta.

BIM Adoption

Everyone talks about BIM (Building Information Modeling) but does anybody really care? That was the question asked by Mark Perniconi, executive director of the Charles Pankow Foundation. Although over the last few years his organization has funded $2.2 million worth of projects to advance the use of BIM in construction, adoption by concrete construction companies remains relatively weak. McGraw Hill data indicates that only 23% of concrete and masonry contractors say their knowledge of BIM is high. Some, like Bill Klorman, one of CC’s Most Influential for last year, are aggressively using BIM in their own operations but communication with the design and operations sides still lags.

Repair Code

Georgia Tech professor Larry Kahn chaired ACI Committee 562 that developed an actual Code for concrete repair. A Code is different than a typical ACI committee report, in that it is written in mandatory language (thou shall, rather than thou should) and intended to be adopted by reference into local building codes and contract documents. The new ACI 562 Code (and the accompanying 563 Specification) represent the minimum acceptable practices and requirements for concrete repairs. This should help eliminate some of the poorly done repairs that are so common in the $20 billion concrete repair industry, where half of all repairs fail within the first few years and only 30% are performing well after 10 years. One interesting requirement is to put the responsibility for maintaining the repair onto the owner, with guidance from the contractor and designer.

Real Research

During the SDC meeting we got a tour of the research labs at Georgia Tech, where graduate students have projects underway looking at problems with nuclear containment structures, stainless steel post-tensioning strand, the effects of different kinds of cement on shrinkage, and seismic retrofit techniques. The last is a series of full-scale two-story concrete frames that will be subjected to simulated seismic forces, then repaired and then shaken again to evaluate the effectiveness of the repair methods. I kept thinking about how much fun it would be to be a graduate student working on a single focused problem for a couple of years instead of the crazy multitasking life most of us lead.

St. Louis tourists on the Tom Sawyer riverboat get a unique look at the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge rising from the Mississippi River in August 2011.
Missouri and Illinois departments of transportation St. Louis tourists on the Tom Sawyer riverboat get a unique look at the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge rising from the Mississippi River in August 2011.

Triad Award

The new Mississippi River Bridge project is the winner of our first Triad Award for the best infrastructure project in North America completed over the previous year. Chosen by the editors of Concrete Construction, Public Works, and The Concrete Producer, the award recognizes architectural design, sustainability, and contractor and supplier ingenuity.