I was in San Francisco last week attending a conference. The conference’s leader opened with a safety review which included what to do when, not if, an earthquake occurs. We were in a reinforced structure so we were advised to stay inside and avoid being hit falling bricks. I know these folks were concrete guys, but why must they always pick on masonry?
I’m beginning to believe that bashing masonry is a national pastime. Even so, it’s been a tough two weeks for us masonry fans. First, there was the Napa earthquake that yet again demonstrated that when owners fail upgrade their unreinforced masonry walls, there’s a chance of collapse. This was followed by two tragic fatalities from falling masonry. (For the record in the Chicago case, the masonry piece was pushed to the ground when a steel stair became dislodged.)
But the naysayers can’t always have their way. Masonry continues to have the support of key architects who are hired to design iconic structures. I’ve posted an article about a building in Australia that is attracting attention. Frank Gehry’s University of Technology building has incorporated a new brick style and anchoring system.
The masonry industry is strengthening it's hold on the design community. Gehry’s project demonstrates that manufacturers and masonry contractors are working together to bring new technologies to an age-old craft.