P.R.: Shaping the City to Come

We’ve never known elements of the New York City construction industry to be profiteers. Heaven forfend! But now, McGraw Hill Construction reports, structural engineers and, of course, steel manufacturers are crying foul over the mounting campaign by makers of structural concrete to paint steel as a dangerous building material–using the fall of the World Trade Center and the fire at the Windsor Tower in Madrid as their examples.

Introducing the Concrete Alliance, a trade group with a Safety Message:

The promotional group is supported by New York City-area concrete contractors and construction unions. This fall, the alliance plans to launch an initiative that would offer a “safety seal of approval” to owners of concrete-framed buildings, which they could use for marketing purposes. … The alliance now is pushing concrete office towers, a building type long dominated in New York City by structural steel.

Most engineers quoted in the article claimed that it is the structure, and not the structural material, that makes the difference. But it is likely the skyscraper safety movement and the resulting P.R. war that will determine which of the two materials comes to dominate.

- Tom McGeveran