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Concrete vs. Steel-Frame Construction

Steel_Network | Posted in General Questions on

previous to modern engineering and the ability to manipulate concrete and steel, the world of architecture consisted of wood, adobe, thatch, and cave dwellings. We’ve come a long way. Today’s cities reveal skies punctuated by buildings so tall and austere, even architectural tour guides experience the occasional pain in the neck. So, which material reigns supreme in the world of development today – concrete or steel frame construction?

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  1. andy_ | | #1

    Canvas or plastic? Spam or canned ham?

  2. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #2

    Concrete and steel are almost always used TOGETHER, so I wouldn't say either is inherently superior to the other. Steel reinforcement is common in things that look like concrete (bridges, roads, parking structures, etc.). Concrete is common in places everyone things are steel (commercial highrise buildings use a steel frame, steel floor pan, and a poured concrete slab to form the actual floor on each level).


  3. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #3

    I would argue that mass-timber construction is superior to both in this day and age, given our climate goals.

  4. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #4

    Buildings with high levels of embodied carbon and disproportionate carbon emissions--aka most that are built with a lot of steel and/or concrete--are soooo 20th century. The 21st century is about being more responsible with our choices--i.e., building with low-emission, renewable materials.

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