While it might be the world’s oldest construction craft, masonry construction still survives in today’s new construction environment. Masonry’s ability to adapt was elegantly displayed at yesterday’s Symposium on Masonry 2014, held during ASTM committee week in Toronto. Mike Tate, the Symposium’s Chair, assembled a wide range of researchers, engineers, and contractors, who offered a clear view of our future.

The Symposium was sponsored by ASTM Committee C07 on Lime, C01 on Cement, C12 on Mortars and Grouts for Unit Masonry, and C15 on Manufactured Units. With such a broad base of support, the event was designed to be inclusive.

The papers presented were wide ranging and interesting. And for this industry this was refreshing news. For too many years, masonry research was primarily focused on structural applications. But this year’s symposium showcased efforts to increase masonry resiliency, durability and serviceability.

Perhaps Dr. Mark McGinley summed up the state of innovation in masonry. During his talk on “Effect of a Finely Ground Aggregate on the Behavior of Cement-Lime Mortar, he said “We are expected to do more with less on all parts of a masonry construction project.” No surprise as his talk focused on effort the effects of a wall system’s performance when of reducing a wall’s carbon footprint by using less portland cement in the mortar mix.

Other papers followed the current topics affecting masonry construction. Nick Lang from NCMA presented an update to ASTM C90 and how that has affected concrete blocks. Other block making presentations includes presentations on whether durability of pavers and segmental wall units could be improved by using internal curing. Dr. Shao from McGill University discussed his research on curing blocks with carbon dioxide.

Façade repair was another hot topic. Researchers from Wiss, Janney, Elsterner presented information on “Stress Release in Terra Cotta Facades” and “The Evolution of the Masonry Façade”,
And Craig Wallcoh outlined the new ASTM test methods that determines infiltration rate on permeable unit pavement systems. This method was demonstrated at World of Concrete by Oldcastle,
Presenters and their sponsoring are to be thanked. But more importantly when ASTM makes these papers available, the information will enable masonry construction to keep with the times.