Concrete may be one of the most widely used, man-made construction materials today, but its soaring, acrobatic qualities (first put into large-scale use by the ancient Romans) had been forgotten for hundreds of years before it was redeveloped in the mid-18th century.
However, it wasn’t until the postwar period that concrete really got its boost, thanks to the development of concrete that was reinforced with steel bars (rebar), along with a cultural sense of optimism that architecturally manifested itself in cantilevering, gravity-defying shapes and forms. All around the world—from the United States to Brazil, Mexico, and Bangladesh—everyone was enthralled with the wonders of concrete.
Today, concrete continues to be used in an impressively broad range of spaces and scales, from countertops to massive infrastructure projects. Here, we take a look at some impressive contemporary structural and architectural feats accomplished with concrete, ranging from the soaring highways of Los Angeles to an Italian architect's cantilevered kitchen counters.