Ed Sauter, executive director of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, wants to counter the perception that tilt-up buildings are nothing more than concrete boxes. “Whether architect, engineer, contractor, or developer,” he writes in the most recent edition of Tilt-Up Today, “help us destroy the myth that tilt-up is only for boxes.”

After attending the TCA meeting last week in California it's clear that he's right, although the perception among many remains strong. But in some parts of the country and in some market segments, the myth is being smashed by architects like Jeffrey Brown, Powers Brown Architecture, who has used tilt-up to go after a market he calls small smart boxes. So the box abides, but not just the box. Many of Brown’s tilt-up buildings include boxy portions but are much more, since he’s designing manufacturing facilities and multi-story office buildings that have all the style and features of cast-in-place concrete or steel-frame buildings but at a significant price and schedule discount. “There are no more clients,” he says, “only markets.” Meaning that rather than waiting for a client to ask him to design a building, he is aggressively pursuing markets where tilt-up makes sense. Using this approach, his firm thrived throughout the recession, designing interesting but low cost buildings that combine the box with something an owner can be proud of and excited about associating with his brand.

Brown is the author of the new book Tiltwallism, one of the more unique books in my concrete library (available by clicking here). Part of his focus is on what he calls the Value Office, built using tilt-up techniques that remove the perimeter columns and provide a lower cost building. You can see some of his work and that of many others in the 2014 TCA Achievement Awards. The tilt-up concrete technique has been around for more than a hundred years, but I foresee a dramatically growing market. I would encourage you to take another look at tilt-up and consider whether it might not be in your future.