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Breckenridge Material Company Turns Concrete into Art for St. Louis Art Museum Expansion

Breckenridge Material Company, a St. Louis-based supplier of ready mix concrete, has been put into the spotlight for its creation of a unique self-consolidating concrete (SCC) mix used in the recent $130 million, 200,000 square-foot St. Louis Art Museum expansion.

The SCC mix used for the coffered ceilings was engineered to meet the strict design standards required by the project's renowned British architect, Sir David Chipperfield. To create the unique SCC mix, Breckenridge Material Company used a variety of different ingredients, including titanium dioxide which was specifically used to enhance the reflectivity of the final product in order to achieve the optimal light reflectivity required by Chipperfield's designs.

"The architect wanted the coffered concrete ceiling to have a finished and polished look to it, in addition to a very specific light reflectance property that would provide the best ambient conditions for viewing the art," said Jeff Whidden, Senior Vice President of Breckenridge Material Company. "Breckenridge was delighted to be part of the team in constructing the next chapter for this iconic St. Louis landmark and we look forward to the opening of the new building this summer."

The 40,000 square-foot coffered ceilings in the new addition of the St. Louis Art Museum serve multiple purposes beyond that of traditional structural concrete coffers. The SCC mix was designed to provide the optimal combination of natural and artificial light for viewing art. The concrete mix offers a light reflectance of over 55 percent. In total, the SCC was used to create 698 separate coffers.

In addition to the SCC mix created for the coffered ceilings, Breckenridge supplied a unique concrete design for the concrete tilt-up panels used for the exterior façade of the new expansion. The mix comprised of a distinctive combination of exotic aggregates from local and national sources. Breckenridge also added black pigment to the mix to accomplish the distinctive, polished exterior surface, which provides a beautiful contrast to the original architecture of the historic St. Louis Art Museum building, which debuted at the 1904 World's Fair.

"The creation of the SCC involved a proprietary blend of cements, aggregates and admixtures and was the result of a series of laboratory tests conducted at Breckenridge's on-site, and MoDOT approved, testing facility," said Whidden. "Breckenridge refined the mix for the design team through numerous mockups and concrete samples for the project's concrete contractor, McCarthy Building Companies. In addition, during the actual pours, a great deal of logistics and planning went into orchestrating the concrete delivery in order to maintain the consistency demanded by the project specifications."

Breckenridge and McCarthy strategically planned the trucks to deliver approximately 200 cubic yards per hour to maintain a constant flow from pumps to forms, in order to reduce the potential for any surface imperfections.

About Breckenridge Material Company
Founded in 1926, Breckenridge Material Company is family owned and operated company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Breckenridge Material Company is the largest supplier of ready mix concrete in the St. Louis regional area. Breckenridge Material Company operates with more than 30 plants located in Missouri and Illinois. For more information please visit

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