Concrete inFocus - Summer 2013 - (Page 19)

nrmca in focus Structures That Last 2012 NRMCA National High School Essay Contest Winner Mikayla Clark “Of all the construction materials available today, only concrete proves itself to be strong enough, durable enough, and versatile enough to build massive functional works of art.” T here is a bridge in the city next to where I live. In fact, there are several bridges, but this bridge is made of concrete. The Henley Street Bridge is undergoing the process of being rebuilt as I write this essay. Since 1931 this bridge has connected downtown to the south part of the city. The asphalt has eroded, the metal parts have rusted, and to rebuild it they have stripped it down to the supporting posts. Those are the only original parts that remain. After 80 years of constant use, the concrete supports were still structurally sound and worthy to be built atop of again. It cut costs, but that is not the only reason the arches and supports were kept. They were not just functional. They were also beautiful—they were history. Th at is what concrete does for our society. It allows us to create structures that last. Wood is organic and beautiful. It is renewable and easy to shape, but it is also short-lived. Anything created in wood must be maintained, replaced, or torn down in a few years. Plastic is inexpensive and versatile, but it is not strong enough to build towering skyscrapers or span rivers. While steel is both a cheap and strong construction staple, it falls victim to mere water. Of all the construction materials available today, only concrete proves itself to be strong enough, durable enough, and versatile enough to build massive functional works of art. Much of what we study and know of ancient cultures does not come from what they wrote. It is not learned from the art they created or the knowledge they left behind to be passed down through generations. The greatest wealth of knowledge we have of cultures that are now gone comes from studying what is left of what they built. Consider the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, the ruins of the Parthenon in Greece, the Coliseum in Rome. Architecture is the most lasting and permanent part of any society. Concrete is the most lasting and permanent part of our architecture. If someone wants to study our society long after it is gone, they will be studying the buildings, the bridges, the towers and the statues we have made from concrete. It is not simply for the people in the future that we use concrete, however. It is more so for the benefit of those who live today. No other material is made from such readily available raw materials. It is just as cost effective as it is permanent. Th is fact allows us to accomplish feats we could not otherwise accomplish. No matter how beautiful an idea is, if you cannot aff ord it, it will never be anything more than a dream. A stone carver can carve a block of granite into a statue, but what everyday person can afford such an expensive creation? Anyone, however, can afford a concrete work of art that is just as beautiful and lasts just as long. Buildings, bridges and monuments that could never be aff orded if made from solid stone become reality thanks to the versatility of concrete. While modern chemistry and technology have made concrete durable, strong and resistant to wear, it remains now what it has always been. Concrete is a medium through which we create our society. In a world that changes too quickly and is often disposable, concrete allows us to create structures and memories that endure. ■ Mikayla Clark attends Alcoa High School in Alcoa, TN. The Tennessee Concrete Association submitted her winning essay as part of NRMCA’s annual national high school essay contest. The winner was honored at NRMCA’s Annual Convention in March 2013, where she was presented with a college scholarship check for $2,000. Winners pursuing a college degree in a concrete-industry related field receive a scholarship for $5,000. For more information on NRMCA’s national essay contest, please contact Nicole Maher at 240-485-1158 or concrete INFOCUS ı 19

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Concrete inFocus - Summer 2013

Corporate Suite
From Hand Shovels to Keystrokes
Walking on Art
NRMCA’s Design Assistance Program Works for Producers
Maryland Ready Mix Producer Gives Back to Community
Structures That Last
Responsible Sourcing Through CSR Reporting
Index of Advertisers
Responsible Sourcing Through CSR Reporting
White Cement Delivers Beautiful, Profi table Mixes
Impact of Concrete Quality on Sustainability
Tulsa Driver Named NRMCA Driver of the Year

Concrete inFocus - Summer 2013