This is an exciting time in the masonry industry. Joel Arthur Barker writes in Paradigms, the Business of Discovering the
Future, "Don't wait for the trends to develop. Instead, watch for people messing with the rules that is the earliest sign of significant change."
The construction industry is definitely messing with the rules - every segment. New products. New processes. And a
new look on masonry.
Are you ready for the paradigm shift to load-bearing masonry? Simple foundations provide the dual function of
supporting uniform gravity loads while resisting lateral loads. With the price of steel spiraling, delayed availability and the threat of a potential iron-ore strike looming, count on
load-bearing masonry to go up quickly and cost effectively with a myriad of additional benefits.
As more reinforced masonry is being designed, the industry responds with more efficient methods of grouting. Code
changes include grout demonstration panels. Upcoming code changes include higher (12 ft.-8-in.) grout lifts. Research on self consolidating grout continues, and now extended-set grout
emerges, a new product for efficiency and profitability.
After 9/11, the American Society of Civil Engineers spent two years defining the Body of Knowledge to be taught for
the 21st Century, prescribing a substantially greater depth and breadth of knowledge, skills and attitudes.
In neighboring Michigan,state-of-the-art facilities have been completed at both Ferris State University and
Oakland Community College. At Ferris, the Granger Center for Construction Management is truly a structural observatory with a variety of masonry assemblies exposed as well as interfacing with
other building systems demonstrating its versatility. The Fire Training Building at Oakland is part of a 15-building emergency services training complex, the first of its kind in the country.
Built of masonry, it will ultimately survive up to 5,000 fires, extreme temperature differentials, voluminous water coverage, steam, condensation and abuse from fire-fighting equipment.
The story of the Three Little Pigs perhaps should be amended to include one more scenario, that of fire resistance,
so everyone can learn at a very young age that masonry not only stands up to the big bad wolf huffing and puffing but also to fire. Fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters
combined. When will we learn? After experiencing devastating fires, cities vow to reconstruct with noncombustible masonry. And yet, buildings continue to be constructed with less expensive
alternatives that burn.