Last week I shared my niece's graduation from medical school with my mother and my sister's family. It's not often we welcome a doctor into the family. So I enjoyed watching the ceremony, along with all the subtle trappings of tradition that surrounded the awarding of the hoods.

Just before the event's close, the medical school's dean gave a heartfelt thanks to all those involved in forging these new doctors' careers. He mentioned the professors, nurses, administrative aides, and the school's service staff. But to my chagrin, he omitted a group of very important folks who had made this particular event very special.

Angela received her hood at the newly opened Chaivetz Center. The 10,000-seat arena is now St. Louis University's campus center for sports, cultural events, and commencements. But just as importantly, it's also a classic example of how concrete provides the forgotten foundation of our lives.

The dean, staff, new students, and hundreds of guests knew that this graduation was the first such event to be held in the new arena. Yet I'm sure I was the only person of the assemblage who realized we were sitting where we did because of concrete.

The project is an excellent example of how a designer can combine the benefits of precast, cast in place, and masonry to provide a structure on time and within budget. The concrete structure's construction was a fast-track project. Ground was broken in August 2006. Less than 20 months later, the building became the campus focus.

I give lauds to my high-school friend John Guenther, a principal with Mackey Mitchell Architects, the architecture firm of record for the project, who designed the structure. I also praise the team at Clayco Construction who managed the project. Clayco's commitment to building with concrete is well showcased in the quality of the workmanship. And of course there's the quality of the producers in the St. Louis area.

As I watched my niece stand with there with the other new doctors to take their Hippocratic Oath, I softened my disappointment of the Dean's omission of praise for our industry's craftsmen. These new students had just accepted a great responsibility. And with so much involved in the educational process of becoming a good doctor, I guess I should just be proud that these educated folks take for granted the quality of our industry's work.

Well, thanks to all of you who made my family's experience so memorable. And I'm sure there are many other graduation settings at which concrete provided the foundation of a great experience.