For a concrete man, Chicago was a great city in which to work and learn. Beginning my concrete career in the early 1960s and joining Material Service in 1970, I was fortunate to be a part of the birth of high-strength concrete. For us in Chicago it has always been obvious that the development and use of high-performance concrete was the result of a concrete community—city engineers, developers, structural engineers, contractors, concrete producers, material suppliers, and testing labs-working together. Material Service employed a full-time structural engineer, Jamie Moreno, whose job was to investigate and promote the use of high-strength concrete. Material Service and Jamie Moreno spearheaded this venture into one of the more exciting eras in concrete history.
The evolution began in 1965 with the production of 6000-psi compressive strength concrete. In the 1970s came 7500 and 9000 psi, in the 1980s—11,000 and 14,000 psi, and by the 1990s—18,000 psi. This fulfilled a 1965 plan. By design, every job was used to investigate the next higher strength. Either a couple of columns were poured using higher strengths than required, or in situ tests were conducted to measure such attributes as creep or the effect of temperature. By the time the next high-rise was on the drafting table, all interested parties had enough data and confidence to justify using higher strength concrete. The results of all these tests and experiences were shared with the entire concrete community. No single company benefited. Such cooperation is rare in any industry.
I believe there is a very important underlying issue to be recognized. We, as members of this community, have a responsibility to donate our time, knowledge, experience, and even resources, to help our industry continue to develop new and exciting products that will enhance the future of our livelihood—concrete.
Read more highlights from 50 Years of Concrete Construction Progress.