by Hangsoo Jeong (MArch ’22) — Recipient of the Peter Rice Prize
Upon Concrete: Retrofitting Architecture with Malleability
Throughout history, architecture has evolved and advanced in parallel with the technical development of reinforcements. With the innovations of processing and shaping smelted metals and the development of reinforced concrete structural systems, the concrete structure—which could only provide short-span spacing—was reinforced with iron and other metals to achieve a more expansive and porous space. As a result, the strengthened structural system could enable architecture to not only accommodate various scales of programs and occupancies, but also to retain the impartiality between humans, space, and structure.
Concrete structures are gradually becoming underused because of the unadaptability and the oppressive qualities of the material, despite its superior strength and durability. The concrete parking structure in Chicago’s dense urban area provides an opportunity for experimenting with the existing reinforcement techniques for further uses of various programs and occupancies. Based on the computational programming, different reinforcing techniques, such as bracing, buttressing, column jacketing, and cathodic protection, are integrated into a system that can infuse the structure with the capacity to accommodate heterogeneous habitable spaces, holistically upgrading the architectural design.
Retrofitting existing concrete structures with zinc-plated steel reinforcements significantly elevates the structural elements and endows built environments with more flexibility and adaptability.