Buildings & Structures

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Contemporary concrete building systems offer features that purchasers and builders value; strong and solid construction that provides comfortable shelter from typical weather, and minimizes property damage while protecting occupants from extreme weather, like natural disasters. Yet strength and durability alone are not enough: the systems have to be easy to design and build and be versatile to suit any architectural style. Concrete systems are that and more.

Low-Rise Buildings

Slightly more than half of all low-rise buildings in the United States are constructed from concrete. Designers select concrete for one-, two-, and three-story stores, restaurants, schools, hospitals, commercial warehouses, terminals, and industrial buildings because of its durability and ease of construction. In addition, concrete is often the most economical choice: load-bearing concrete exterior walls serve not only to enclose the buildings and keep out the elements, but also carry roof and wind loads, eliminating the need to erect separate cladding and structural systems. 

High-Rise Buildings

A major advantage of concrete construction for high-rise buildings is the material's inherent properties of heaviness and mass, which create lateral stiffness, or resistance to horizontal movement. Occupants of concrete towers are less able to perceive building motion than occupants of comparable tall buildings with non-concrete structural systems. As a result, concrete has become the material of choice for many tall, slim towers.


Whether they think of it as “building green” or “sustainability,” today’s building owners expect structures to have minimal environmental impact, yet meet or exceed their lifestyle needs. They want properties offering comfort and security with low energy bills and low maintenance. They also demand healthy interiors that promote well-being. And they want all of this in an attractive package.

They form tight building envelopes that minimize air infiltration, simplify the addition of insulation, and provide thermal mass for more consistent temperatures and decreased energy usage. This is beneficial from an environmental standpoint, and can contribute toward a building’s greenness in many rating systems and some codes.


PCA Notes on ACI 318-11 Building Code, EB712
The emphasis is placed on “how-to-use” the code incorporating discussions behind the code provisions and fully worked design solutions to real world problems. The manual has been found to be also an invaluable aid to educators, contractors, materials and product manufacturers, building code authorities, inspectors, and others involved in the design, construction, and regulation of concrete structures. The over 900 page publication adds to the understanding of the art and science of structural engineering through presentation of the latest research and design procedures. By incorporating discussions of the history and philosophy of concrete design, the document strives to inform the reader of both the ‘letter of the law’ and, more importantly, the ‘spirit’ behind the code provisions.

Simplified Design of Reinforced Concrete Buildings, EB204
This new, fourth edition presents practicing engineers with timesaving analysis, design, and detailing methods of primary framing members of a reinforced concrete building. Revised and updated to ACI 318-11, it incorporates seismic and wind load provisions to comply with the International Building Code (2009 IBC). All equations, design aids, graphs, and code requirements have been updated to the current codes. Expanded illustrations of the theory and fundamentals and new timesaving design aids were added to include a wider range of concrete strengths. Also contains a new chapter on sustainable design.

PCA 100 - 2012, Prescriptive Design of Exterior Concrete Walls for One- and Two-Family Dwellings, EB562
This publication provides a simplified approach to the design of concrete footings, foundation walls, and above-grade walls, both load bearing and non-load bearing, intended primarily for use in detached one- and two-family dwellings. This second edition of the standard is revised to coordinate with the criteria of the 2010 edition of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures in the 2011 edition of the American Concrete Institute Building Requirements for structural concrete. A $70 value. Available as PDF with password.