Glass-fiber reinforced concrete, also referred to commonly as GFRC, is a modern construction material utilized for its strength and usefulness in a wide variety of different construction projects. A material that is known as much for its lightweight as its durability, GFRC also has the ability to mimic the look and feel of everything from wood and concrete to stone and more.
We are only at the beginning of the long and storied history of what GFRC will be capable of.
What GFRC Was Used for Then
Originally developed in the 1940s by researchers in Russia, GFRC was designed as a solution for concrete block construction. The majority of the recent construction up to that point in Russia had used concrete blocks for their strength, but had been running into the issue of their weight when it came to larger construction projects. By combining concrete and glass fibers in different ways, eventually GFRC was developed enough to be useful in certain situations, but not enough to make a real change in the construction industry. That would change as the rest of the world got involved.
Throughout the 1970’s, the techniques for developing and strengthening GFRC were refined and made more effective in the United Kingdom and United States. As time carried on, the greater construction potential of GFRC was slowly realized.
Different manufacturing methods were developed over the next 30 years as GFRC continued to be researched and refined, until it was finally accepted as a licensed material by both the International Congress of Building Officials (CBO) and the Congress of American Building Officials (CABO). This allowed for more construction research to be done with GFRC, as its architectural style continued to catch up with its innovative creation.
What GFRC Is Used for Now
In modern days, GFRC has not only continued to push the boundaries of what we thought it was capable of as a construction material, but has also continued to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible for it as a design material.
Without being held down to one specific architectural style, GFRC has proven itself again and again in different projects and studies as an incredibly adaptive material. These are just a few of the more recent applications of GFRC in the construction landscape:
- The Palladio @ Broadstone – The Palladio at Broadstone in Folsom, CA at showcases GFRC’s ability to replicate classical Italian style architecture. From the columns and trims to the sills and medallions, GFRC was utilized to develop that old-world style in every detail of the facility.
- The Westin Denver International Airport – The Westin, a hotel inside the Denver International Airport, used GFRC to their columns in access panels, as well as a beautiful ceiling for their sky lobby. GFRC has proven itself more than capable at developing sleek modern and minimalistic designs on a tight construction schedule.
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) – After winning the 2017 AWCI Excellence Award for Ceilings with a curved GFRC cove pattern, the MOMA and their partners proved that not only can GFRC be utilized in bold and cutting-edge artistic architecture, but it can also be done at a level of award winning excellence.
It is clear that the world of architecture has seen continued advancement and progression as we pushed the envelope of what can be done with new materials. GFRC has opened the doors for many construction developments that may have been too time consuming or costly prior to its existence.
Many of the decorations or designs from the above accomplishments would have been cost prohibitive if traditional construction materials were needed to be used. As we move forward and continue to learn just what GFRC is truly capable of, the limits of its architectural style may only be held back by our imagination.