Conserving Concrete Heritage Experts Meeting

In June 2014, the GCI convened a meeting of experts in the conservation of historic concrete buildings and structures to identify the knowledge gaps and consider key areas where research, education and training, and the creation and dissemination of literature on the subject will serve to advance the field. This meeting was an outgrowth of the 2013 Colloquium to Advance the Practice of Conserving Modern Heritage, which confirmed the need to focus attention on the conservation of a variety of typical twentieth-century building materials, including concrete.

State of the Field

Despite several decades of experience with the complexities of conserving historic concrete, the fundamental challenge of reconciling current repair options with conservation needs remains. Industry-driven methods and materials do not take into account the conservation ethos of minimum intervention and maximum retention of original fabric.

Current options can have a significant impact on concrete's appearance and materiality, which in many cases is a fundamental element of architectural expression. Scientific research into the behavior of historic concrete and improvement of diagnostic methods is needed, as is identification of the long-term effects of conservation and repair and brokering of solutions to outstanding technical problems.


The Conserving Concrete Heritage Experts Meeting was a multidisciplinary gathering, which included engineers, architects, material scientists, educators, and industry representatives with demonstrated expertise in the repair of historic concrete buildings and structures. The meeting's goals were to identify:

• research needs;
• ways to advance this area of material conservation;
• priorities for work;
• entities able to progress these priorities;
• the scope of research on the conservation of concrete that the GCI could undertake, as well as potential partners and stakeholders to work with in this area; and
• a plan of action to implement the research and other activities.

Over the course of three days, eight invited participants joined GCI staff and consultants in assessing the current state of concrete conservation. The meeting was organized around working sessions, following presentations by invited participants.

Conserving Concrete Heritage Experts Meeting
Alice Custance-Baker and Susan Macdonald

Conserving Concrete Heritage Experts Meeting Report provides a summary of the meeting's presentations, discussions and outcomes, as well as a proposed plan of action.

Included in the report is the background paper, "Conserving Concrete Heritage: An Experts Meeting to Identify Research Needs to Advance the Field," Circulated in advance and presented on the first day, it outlines the state of the concrete conservation field and identifies some of the issues faced by those involved in its conservation. It also identifies areas where targeted research could provide potential solutions to these dilemmas.

Conserving Concrete Heritage: An Annotated Bibliography
Alice Custance-Baker, Gina Crevello, Susan Macdonald, and Kyle Normandin

This bibliography is an outgrowth of Conserving Twentieth-Century Built Heritage: A Bibliography (2nd ed). Its annotated entries are intended to assist those interested in the conservation of concrete by identifying and describing specific resources on the subject. It will also promote understanding of the current state of knowledge, which may assist with identification of gaps in the existing literature.

Page updated: January 2015