Durable Construction Examined

Author: School of Architecture

A two-day colloquium, “Durability in Construction,” was held October 26-28 in Bond Hall. Architect John Simpson gave the opening keynote address. Additional speakers included architects John Cluver, José Cornelio da Silva, Maria Fernanda Sanchez, Pedro Godoy, Jorge Hernandez, Steve Mouzon, Thomas Rajkovich, Alireza Sagharchi, Richard Sammons, as well as School of Architecture faculty members.

Lectures ranged from historical practices to current practices and the best ways to build in the future that are durable and sustainable. British architect John Simpson, whose Carhart Mansion in Manhattan was the first building to employ load-bearing masonry in New York since the 1960s, addressed the ways durability should be applied to contemporary building. Professors Aimee Buccellato, David Mayernik, and Krupali Krusche  presented case studies illustrating the possibilities of current masonry tactics in different contexts across the globe.

Other talks addressed specific durable techniques as well as historical practices that should inform our current understanding of what is truly sustainable, from cavity walls to withstanding earthquakes in Aegean regions. How buildings endured before the thermostat age, along with socio-cultural ideals that have shaped and altered our understanding of appropriate building lifespans, formed key conference themes.

Durability was central to the practice of architecture for millennia; it went without saying that a building should be made to last as long as possible, with materials and construction techniques chosen toward that end. Ephemeral, short term construction has become the norm today, but the increasing importance of sustainable has made permanence essential again.