Steel you later: Developers opt for concrete as cheaper, faster material

Related used concrete at 55 Hudson Yards

Rendering of 55 Hudson Yards and Bruce Beal
Rendering of 55 Hudson Yards and Bruce Beal

Developers are increasingly swapping steel for concrete, finding that the material allows for faster and cheaper construction.

The use of concrete at Related Companies’ 55 Hudson Yards allows for flexibility in design, Crain’s reported. Prospective tenant Silver Lake, an investment firm backed by Alibaba and Dell, wanted to add an outdoor balcony to the space it was considering, a change that Related could make by just changing the floors’ molds.

“With steel, it takes months to engineer and fabricate, and once you have it, changes are costly,” Related’s president, Bruce Beal, told Crain’s. “Concrete is great. It can be less expensive [and] faster to build with, and if you need to, you can make changes right up to the moment before the pour.”

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Other boutique offices are following suit by using concrete exclusively, such as 40 10th Avenue, 512 West 22nd Street and 61 Ninth Avenue. Traditionally, concrete wasn’t used in high-rise office buildings, since steel — which is three times stronger than concrete per pound — is better equipped to handle the weight of tenants and heavy equipment. Over the years, concrete composites have increased in strength.

For instance, JDS Development Group used concrete with 14,000-pounds-per-square-inch compression strength at 111 West 57th Street[Crain’s] — Kathryn Brenzel