Steel Plant Architectural Style

Question: Imagine that you were working in one of America’s steel plants at the dawn of the 20th century, what architectural styles might you encounter on a day-to-day basis and where might you see them?

In the early 20th century the steel industry began to boom. While the steel mills were very dangerous and known for severe accidents, poor working conditions, and pitiful wages, the product of steel was in high demand. Steel could be produced at a very affordable cost, which was then passed on to the customer making the product very economical. The strong and relatively lightweight material became a very popular choice for construction material in architecture.

Steel was the perfect material to manufacture long spanning trusses for bridges, and buildings alike. The strength of the material allowed interior areas to be column free. Factories, concert halls, and aircraft hangers are noted structures that utilized this advance in architecture. By the mid 1900’s welding took bridge fabrication with steel to the next level with increasingly strong seamless joints.

Steel was also a key element in the success the evolution of skyscrapers. In its early years steel supports were used to help reinforce the concrete structures. Steel offered such versatility and could be easily manufactured to meet the structural and aesthetic needs of the building. As the design of the skyscraper grew taller, steel braces, beams and columns were used as the tall structures began to “sway” in the wind, “some more than two feet in any direction” (Skyscraper History , 2011).

Work Cited:
"American Experience . The Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie . The Steel Business | PBS." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 25 Jan. 2011. ."History of Iron and Steel Bridges." Beams | Columns | Composite Flooring | Sustainability. Web. 25 Jan. 2011. .
"Skyscraper History — Infoplease.com." Infoplease: Encyclopedia, Almanac, Atlas, Biographies, Dictionary, Thesaurus. Free Online Reference, Research & Homework Help. — Infoplease.com. Web. 25 Jan. 2011. .
"World Architecture- Steel Buildings." World Architecture-1000 Places To See Before You Die. Web. 25 Jan. 2011. .