Bricktown, USA

Smyrna, Ga.'s Market Village

Smyrna, Ga.’s Market Village

During the last few years, Smyrna, Ga., (the town where I live) has undergone quite a transformation as the city has aggressively pursued new construction and revitalization efforts. To city leadership’s credit, these efforts have not been in vain. Not only does my town look great, but it is winning awards for beautification.

The centerpiece of Smyrna’s revitalization – at least in my opinion – is the brick paving project, which really has had a remarkable effect on changing the city’s appearance while linking municipal buildings and other structures together. Incorporating bricks from Belgard, the paving project also is making Smyrna more walkable; I am seeing more and more residents out walking these days. It gives me great pleasure to see city leadership who are committed to Keep Smyrna Beautiful, which happens to be the name of the city’s recycling program, but it’s more than that. It is a general attitude about keeping Smyrna vital, enticing to new residents, and creating a pleasant atmosphere for current residents who truly can appreciate the changes.

Since the improvements began, I often find myself reminded of other U.S. cities whose aesthetic is defined by brick. The first places that come to mind are Boston, Mass.; Annapolis, Md.; Newport, R.I.; and Oklahoma City’s “Bricktown” district. If you have visited – or happen to live in – one of these towns, then you know why brick is simply better. Towns with brick-paved sidewalks and mostly brick buildings give the place a real identity and a real homey quality that is palpable. Glass, steel and concrete are cold and austere by comparison. There’s no substitute for brick!

So tell me, dear readers, what are your favorite brick-clad towns?

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Concrete Masonry Design Awards of Excellence Accepting Entries

The National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), along with Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, is now accepting entries for the Concrete Masonry Design Awards of Excellence program. Awards are presented for commercial, residential, landscape and sustainability. The deadline for submittals is Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.

“The Concrete Masonry Design Awards program gives the design community the opportunity to highlight all that concrete masonry has to offer. The program recognizes those projects that excel in design using concrete masonry and hardscapes for commercial, residential and landscape applications,” says NCMA Chairman of the Board Charles Newsome of Johnson Concrete Company Inc. “We are excited that this year’s program will also include manufactured stone veneer projects.”

Winners will be nationally recognized through trade show exhibits, publications and media.

For complete information about the Concrete Masonry Design Awards of Excellence and entry forms, visit www.ncma.org/designawards.

The NCMA is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and advance the common interests of its members in the manufacture, marketing, education, research and application of concrete masonry and related products. For more information about NCMA, visit www.ncma.org.

Belgard® Hardscapes Introduces Mega-Tandem™ Wall Block

Belgard® Hardscapes has introduced the Mega-Tandem™ Mass Retaining Wall™ (MRW) block, a versatile wall block system with the natural look of stone that allows for building reinforced walls up to 15 feet high and gravity walls up to 10 feet without reinforcing.

“The size and connectors in the Mega-Tandem MRW system allow for a gravity wall height of up to 10 feet without a surcharge, which is ideal for  wall projects where it is difficult to impossible to excavate for stabilization for a retaining walls,” said Al Pfannenstein, national retaining wall manager for Belgard Hardscapes. “This height is a sharp contrast to the traditional three-foot height that SRW products typically can achieve without reinforcement.”

Mega-Tandem features a patent-pending, positive mechanical connection. The reinforced polypropylene connecting members create structural integrity in curved or straight retaining and freestanding walls. Available in a 12 x 24 panel weighing 65 pounds, the system has a running bond configuration so no patterns are required.

Meeting ASTM standards (C-1372 and C-1262), Mega-Tandem’s 8,500 psi compressive strength concrete makes it suitable across the country, even the coldest environments where it can withstand harsh freeze-thaw cycles. It is available in three color blends, and in 12 different facial textures with the classic look of natural chiseled stone.

“The design versatility offered by Mega-Tandem provides flexibility for better integration of retaining walls in building and landscape designs of commercial properties and homeowners’ outdoor living spaces,” Pfannenstein said.

For more information and a how-to video, visit: http://youtu.be/WD5fxpFVMnI.