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Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete

June 19, 2004 - January 29, 2006

Prototype wall of LiTraCon, a translucent concrete product.
Courtesy of LiTraCon, © GmbH
Concrete is the oldest and the most widely used synthetic building material, currently produced at a rate of over five billion cubic yards per year and reportedly the second most consumed substance after water. It is easily taken for granted as the surface of everyday elements of infrastructure such as streets and sidewalks. It is also strongly associated with utilitarian structures such as parking garages and power plants, along with a variety of cheaply built and often poorly designed public and commercial buildings of the mid-twentieth century.

This common and apparently mundane material also, however, makes possible structures of extraordinary beauty and creativity. Concrete has been the indispensable medium for numerous architects and engineers attracted by its sculptural and expressive possibilities, and indeed, reinforced concrete is arguably the quintessential material of the Modern Movement in architecture. Its strength and versatility have allowed unprecedented experimentation with forms, surfaces, and structural frames, yielding numerous beloved landmarks ranging from Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, with its audacious cantilevered balconies, to Australia's highly evocative Sydney Opera House.

The stunning, wave-like roof of the Auditorio de Tenerife (2003), in the Canary Islands, designed by Santiago Calatrava, exemplifies the sculptural possibilities of reinforced concrete.
Photo by Alan Karchmer for Santiago Calatrava

Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete explored the critical role concrete plays in the work of some of today's most innovative architects, who are using the material in remarkably varied ways. It also illuminated the direct connection between concrete's scientific properties and specific architectural applications of the material. The exhibition concludes with a look at cutting-edge technological developments that are revolutionizing key aspects of architecture and engineering.

Visit the online version of this exhibition.


Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete is made possible by Lafarge.