On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 300 million Americans woke up just like any other morning, feeling safe and secure in their own country.
At 9:03 a.m., that feeling was forever lost.
After American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and the rest of the plot unfolded on live TV, the shock, severity and, as it sunk in, gravity of it all left an entire country feeling suddenly vulnerable. To many, it felt like the next attack could be lurking in the shadows or around the next corner.
In the days and months that followed, national security experts spent long hours figuring out how to prevent such attacks in the future and restore the confidence of the U.S. population. Protecting a country from a large-scale threat is one thing, but guarding against rogue individuals requires a whole different approach.
Like nearly every other institution in the United States, the precast concrete industry was changed by 911. Immediately after the attacks, precast manufacturers throughout North America received calls for traffic barriers and other heavy pieces that could be immediately delivered and installed around the perimeters of government buildings, landmarks and other prime terrorist targets.
Over time, many of those traffic median barriers commonly used to separate highway lanes gave way to more aesthetically pleasing precast concrete objects like large planters, benches and decorative walls that would enhance the cityscape but offer rock-solid protection.
For the precast concrete industry, strength and durability have long been among the top attributes of its products, and after 911 it became a primary material for building security, both portable and permanent.
Walk through any major city, particularly Washington D.C. and New York, and look at any building of importance. You’ll most likely find precast concrete protecting it from vehicular attack. The barriers may not always be obvious, but that’s part of the beauty of what precast concrete offers. Designers, working in conjunction with precast manufacturers, are creating increasingly sophisticated designs that seamless blend into the environment.
Buildings, and even houses, can be constructed using precast concrete stairwells, floors, beams, wall panels, safe rooms and more. In addition to thwarting potential attacks, these heavy duty building materials provide protection from natural disasters ranging from hurricanes and tornadoes to earthquakes.