The AIA Journal reviewed new material technologies to watch.  Here we summarize the materials that interested us most, including a programmable concrete developed at Houston's own Rice University and hardwood cross-laminated timber, but the full article also covers innovative technologies such as solar-harvesting roads and power generating textiles.

Concrete: Prevalent but Understudied

AIA cites that concrete is the second most consumed product, after water, by the human race.  Despite its pervasiveness, recent discoveries made by the materials science team at Rice University demonstrate that the calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H) particles in concrete can be "programmed" to take on a desired shape or molecular formation. 

Rice U. Vision: A Better Concrete

Rice predicts that the technology can be used to produce a concrete that is stronger, denser and better protects reinforced steel inside the concrete. In addition to this being a promising concept, we love to see a Houston institution recognized by prestigious, national organizations like the AIA. 

Emerging Construction Material: CLT

AIA also highlighted a new hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT), touted for its environmental benefits, strength and aesthetic appeal.  AIA cites the use of softwood-based engineered lumber / CLT in new methods for tall building construction as an eco-friendly alternative to concrete and steel.  CLT is considered more ecologically friendly, as a rapidly renewable and carbon sequestering material.  Now, the emergence of a hardwood CLT, provides a stronger (stronger than concrete by weight) and better looking CLT alternative.  

Typical CLT consists of softwood spruce.  Now, North American tulipwood, a stronger, rapid-growing and more aesthetically pleasing option has entered the market.  The tulipwood CLT can also be produced in extra large sizes for large-scale projects. Stuttgart-based manufacturer Züblin is marketing the product under the name Leno CLT.

More Information & Source

To check out the full AIA Journal article, please click here

Opinions expressed by Garrison Construction Group, LLC do not necessarily reflect the opinions of AIA or other sources cited in this post.