Building materials stand test of time

Don't underestimate value of 'patina'

In architecture, the surest way to achieve a timeless design is to use materials that are familiar, durable and that become more beautiful the older they get. Not surprisingly, most of the materials that qualify have been around for ages.

Brick is a classic example. It’s among the most ancient building materials — the oldest known bricks, found in the upper Tigris region of what is now Turkey, date back to around 7500 BC. In all the intervening millennia, not much about brick has changed, either: Even here in 21st century America, where nothing happens fast enough, genuine brick is still installed at a relative snail’s pace, one little piece at a time.