Smart Focus

Elizabeth Young

Ever Looking Forward

As the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) celebrates its 100-year anniversary, we celebrate ingenuity and innovation.

Stacked natural stone and sun-baked clay brick were the first types of masonry construction, but the combining of natural sand and aggregate with cement into uniformly shaped and sized block dates back to the mid-1800s. It was in 1918 that a like-minded group of entrepreneurs formed what is today recognized as NCMA, says Billy Wauhop in his article. Members worked to standardize unit specifications and to promote the merits of concrete block, as well as to increase efficiency.

The 20th century saw block-making facilities transform from individual manual labor producing one unit at a time to technology and automation allowing plants to produce 2500 block per hour. Around the same time that NCMA was formed, brickmaker Stephen Hayde discovered a new opportunity for otherwise unusable brick. This was the birth of the expanded shale, clay and slate lightweight aggregate industry. Arcosa (formerly Trinity) Lightweight’s Jeff Speck, PE, FASTM, FACI, introduces Hayde and tells how his discovery revolutionized concrete masonry for its contributions to efficiencies of transport and installation as well as inherent contributions to building fire resistance and thermal performance.

The typical 8x8x16 grey block, while still the foundation of the CMU industry, has seen its own transformations over the century to incorporate a wide variety of face finishes, colors, textures, shapes and sizes. Gary Hensley and Robert Carmody of Oldcastle Adams, showcase flexibility such face finishes have given designers and contributed uniqueness to the built environment. Solomon Colors’ President Rich Solomon walks readers through the introduction and impact of integral color on both the mortar and CMU industries.

Texas Mason Contractor Mackie Bounds expounds on the thrill of cladding the 42-story Market Square Tower in historic downtown Houston with the industry’s newest CMU, a handsome pigmented, burnished, oversize unit mimicking elegant limestone, and adding a new dimension to the city skyline.

Software developer Russ Peterson enthusiastically shares the newest version of NCMA’s structural masonry design software, Direct Design 3.0, with its ability to further expand its scope. Another tool for engineers in the arsenal of BIM for Masonry soon to be Revit compatible. Incredible cost-saving and schedule benefits of using masonry for structure and enclosure of many specific building types is awesome where it is a good fit. Compelling as told by engineering consultant Scott Walkowicz.

Publisher Betty Young continues to ReBrand block with so many inherent attributes contributing added value for high performance making it more than just a commodity, Now an essential for commercial buildings. Just as the commodity salt has become an essential for every restaurant table in America.

Masonry is more than an industry sitting still. It’s one with a proven track record of evolving, innovating and collaborating to meet demands, improve quality and expand the limits of possibility. Inspiration setting the stage for the next 100 years.

Warm Regards,

Elizabeth Young

Elizabeth Young Managing Editor, Associate Publisher