Perhaps the most lasting legacy of a culture is the buildings it leaves behind. Their designs, functions, materials, and methods tell us a lot about the way people approached life and work. The most obvious example of this is the Roman Colosseum, which has endured for thousands of years and is a tangible representation of a long-dead empire. It stands witness to everything from their architecture to their religion.
While today’s large buildings will never be expected to endure for centuries, they do still carry that power to reflect on us as a society, even if over a much shorter term. They also reflect the reality of our world today.
To accommodate those considerations, perhaps the most essential requirement will be versatile materials that can provide protection against the most likely and most dangerous threats to the safety of the people inside. Whether it’s an athletic complex, civic center, or convention facility, that will take precedence.
It’s this broad demand for durable materials that is behind the development of Polyurea Products that can serve a wide variety of purposes in construction, and the world today requires that all places of assembly should be able to sustain the impact of several external factors.
There was a time when it was just accepted that buildings could not be constructed to resist seismic activity. Yet the advances in architecture, engineering, and materials science of recent decades have proven that while buildings still can’t be indestructible, they can certainly better tolerate the impacts of earthquakes.
The persistence and creativity of professionals in the world’s most earthquake-prone areas have pushed these developments, and with approximately a half-million detectable earthquakes happening each year, the relevance of these steps is undeniable.
A more recent threat has been the increasing likelihood of terrorist attacks. As government and military targets have become more fortified, attackers have begun to plot strikes against so-called “soft targets”, areas of minimal strategic value but occupied by thousands of people. As was recently seen in Manchester, England, these sites provide relatively unfettered access for attackers, and the resulting fear among the thousands of witnesses serves only to further the agendas of terror organizations.
As a result, it’s become more important than ever for places of assembly to be constructed of materials that can withstand gunfire, explosions, and even impacts from vehicles. The site layout and security play in as well, but the last layer of protection is the material.
Facilities today must be fortified against ever-greater threats from the elements. Whether the recent uptick of severe and extreme weather is a statistical anomaly or is indeed evidence of global warming, it’s undeniable that there is a growing problem with weather. The 2010 collapse of the Metrodome in Minneapolis is a perfect example, with a heavy load of snow breaking through the roof and rendering the facility unusable. Hurricane damage to the New Orleans Superdome makes the list as well.
Once again, site choices and design considerations play a part, but ultimately, the materials used must be able to withstand high winds, deflect lightning, tolerate heavy accumulations of snow, and remain intact through a wide range of temperatures.
Our consumptive society is not likely to ever let another building stand as long as the Colosseum has. But it’s clear that many facilities could spend more years in operation if they had been built out of better materials. As the 21st century advances, the new substances and strategies for construction will address ever-greater demands to provide functionality, beauty, and safety for their users.