Tiltwallism: A Treatise on the Architectural Potential of Tilt Wall Construction


By: Mitch Bloomquist | Tilt-Up Concrete Association

Tiltwallism encourages architects to re-engage everyday architecture neglected by many professionals and stimulate an interest in tilt-up for designers. In addition to serving as an introductory resource to architects and an inspiration to contractors, developers and structural consultants familiar with the building system, the book presents a serious investigation into the absence of tilt-up in architectural theory and critical practice.

Jeffrey Brown, FAIA of Powers Brown Architecture, begins by providing context for what he calls the “tilt wall problem.” Citing Kenneth Frampton, arguably the most influential architectural critic of our time, Brown suggests that early suppression of architectural form generated by tectonics had been ingrained in architects throughout their education as tectonics have been presented as a secondary criterion.

Brown then points to discussions questioning the very definition of architecture and it’s coverage of the nearly eighty percent of buildings built without the involvement of an architect calling for a broadening of the circle of considerations architects focus on to include social, political and economic forces. An extraordinarily well-researched chapter on the history of tilt-up further establishes context for the method outlining the technology’s roots and the variety of sociological, cultural, technological and environmental forces acting on its development.

While part of the book is dedicated to the definition of the technique, the how-to, it is done so in language and graphics that speak to the design process. Simple graphics and to-the-point text serve to give architects a basic understanding of the entire process. The information is well presented and efficiently gives architects the tools they need to design a tilt-up building. Brown points out that while architects remain dangerously uninterested in tilt-up, contractors and developers (clients) continue to explore its potential as it rapidly gains popularity. To communicate the allure, Brown lays out the benefits of tilt-up from both a contractor and developer’s point of view, outlining efficiencies and commenting on the increasing complexity of project financing.

This information is then followed up with a section pointing out all of the reasons architects too should be interested in tilt-up. Formal, structural, and environmental advantages, among others, are discussed. Brown presents again the need for more eyes on the everyday building and suggests that tilt-up is an “economically accessible way to facilitate the experimental in the general practice. “The book concludes with a series of case studies examining the role of tilt-up in works by Irving Gill, Rudolph Shindler, Steven Holl Architects, Cunningham Architects, and others. The work of Powers Brown Architecture is also presented, offering a fresh perspective on what Brown refers to as neglected territory.

Tiltwallism is a beautifully crafted hardcover book with exposed binding and large full color imagery. The book absolutely fills a void in the coverage of this dominant method of construction and provides the architectural community with a formal resource to engage.

Jeffrey Brown, FAIA is CEO and Founding Principal at Powers Brown Architecture. Brown has been instrumental in leading the firm to numerous awards including recognition from the Tilt-Up Concrete Association as the recipient of the 2008 Irving Gill Distinguished Architect Award for the firm’s contribution to the design and advancement of tilt-up construction. The firm’s work has been widely covered in magazines and books including Powers Brown Architecture, also published by Images Publishing.

Tiltwallism: A Treatise on the Architectural Potential of Tilt Wall Construction
By Jeffrey Brown
228 pages. The Images Publishing Group