By Alexis Brackney, AIA, SE
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Exposed concrete façades synonymous with the brutalist architectural style have been featured on buildings for over a century. Constructed between 1906 and 1908, Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Unity Temple was one of the earliest structures to contain a poured-in-place reinforced concrete façade.1 In the 1960s, Walter Netsch designed several buildings on campus for the University of Illinois at Chicago using exposed concrete structural elements and precast concrete window panels with intricate details and textures.2 While concrete façades are durable and unique in their varying textures and coloring, aging façades present challenges when deterioration starts to emerge.
Concrete Façade Deterioration
After decades of exposure to the elements, concrete façades may exhibit deterioration in the form of cracking, delamination, or spalling (Figures 1 and 2). Exposed reinforcement bars are unsightly, and continued expansive effects of corrosion may lead to potentially hazardous situations for pedestrians and property below. Further, cracking and deteriorated transitional areas can offer paths for moisture migration into the building and result in interior leakage.