A Tale of Two Laboratories

by Paul Tarricone, Asst. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 7, Pg. 50-53

Document Type: Feature article


Two unusual research centers are built with the materials that will be studied in them, but the similarities end there. GE Plastics' $10 million Living Environments concept house in Pittsfield, Mass., showcases, among other things, advances in cutting-edge plastics and cement-based composites. Perhaps more important, materials and construction-methods research is proceeding at the lab, in the hope of revamping the housing and construction industries for the next century. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech's new $3.5 million lab, in Blacksburg, will house research of traditional, but advanced, concrete masonry systems conceived by the Innovative Design and Research (IDR) division of the National Concrete Masonry Association. Like the GE concept house, the Virginia Tech lab is being constructed with the innovative material to be studied in it; 15 masonry products are being incorporated, which NCMA officials say will ultimately improve labor productivity and slice material costs. Fittingly, both structures serve as living labs--research centers where these respective construction materials will be studied and developed.

Subject Headings: Construction materials | Residential buildings | Masonry | Residential construction | Concrete | Innovation | Plastics | Synthetic materials

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