Chemistry and construction materials

A structure’s resiliency often depends on the ability to create a strong seal throughout the building’s envelope, ensuring both airtightness and watertightness.

Dayton Towers
The resiliency-focused restoration of New York City’s Dayton Towers, a cooperative of seven 12-story buildings, took place in 2013. Established in 1964 to provide affordable options for middle-income residents as part of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD’s) Mitchell Lama program, Dayton is among the oldest and largest housing cooperatives in the city.

Unfortunately, the advanced age of the structure and years of exposure to salt-laden sea air created conditions in the buildings causing balconies and window seals to leak. This resulted in the corrosion of the reinforcing steel and created unsafe conditions. Adding to the complexity of the restoration project was the extensive 16,722 m2 (180,000 sf) of balconies spanning across all seven buildings, requiring major concrete repairs.

The renovation was further complicated by Hurricane Sandy, which impacted all aspects of the project, but also reinforced the need for longer-term protection for changing climates. The versatility of a hybrid seal with strong, primerless adhesion to the broadest range of substrates allowed the project to be completed and the building to be restored for the residents. Hybrid sealants were used on the metal-to-masonry window perimeter joints, offering long-lasting protection from harsh environmental conditions. Their versatility allowed contractors to utilize one sealant for the entire project without the need to switch between products.

Whether it is this article’s examples or other building materials such as flexible piping, wind-resistant roofing, laminated glass, and projectile-resistant doors, the chemical industry will continue to innovate materials for resilient architecture and design.  (To learn more about how materials are built to perform with chemical ingredients, visit the American Chemistry Council site,

(The following contributed to this article: Carrie Stallwitz, Assoc. AIA (building products communications consultant), Gary Parsons, CSI [research and development fellow with Dow Building and Construction], and Christopher J. Perego [marketing manager at BASF].)

Todd Sims is the director of value chain outreach at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), where he manages outreach to the building and construction sector in support of safe, efficient, sustainable, and resilient buildings. An active member of the High-performance Building Caucus, Sims worked previously at the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), where he developed building energy policies; he also represented the 56 governor-designated state energy officers’ interests in all matters of building energy policies before the federal government, industry stakeholders, and the utility sector at the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO). Sims can be reached via e-mail at

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