Stainless steel for eternal architecture

- Dec 28, 2018 -

Stainless steel has become an outstanding material for buildings with a life expectancy of more than 80 years and an aggressive and modern image. Stainless steel is commonly used in public transportation facilities, security facilities and other buildings with high traffic volumes. Long-term durability is the first consideration for these applications. Nickel-containing 300 series stainless steel is the most commonly used material.


The first well-known stainless steel building used in the 1920s was a relatively small, less conspicuous use, such as the roof of the entrance and the factory. Many of these facilities are still in use today, including the awning at the entrance to the Savoy Hotel in London (1929). (1) Human beings have been building large buildings as a way to demonstrate rights and wealth, or because of competition between property owners, or simply to push the limits of technology. The skyscraper is a 20th-century pyramid, so the first large-scale construction applications of stainless steel appear on the world's tallest buildings – the Chrysler Building (2) (1930) and the Empire State Building (1931). Although the title of the world's tallest building in the Chrysler Building has been maintained for several months, its elegant, shiny stainless steel Art Deco style has made it a long-lasting, internationally recognized example of a noble skyscraper design.


The title of the world's tallest building in the Empire State Building has remained for more than 40 years. Like the Chrysler Building, its top and spires are also covered in stainless steel, but it was the first building to use a stainless steel façade. A cylindrical stainless steel arched shoulder is attached to each window and raised upwards, creating a view of the sun shining through the clouds at the top of each level. The only time the panel was replaced was because a medium-sized bomber from the US Air Force hit the side of the building in 1945. Early construction used 302 (S30200) stainless steel, and now 304 (S30400) stainless steel is an easy-to-buy equivalent. For today's buildings, 316L (S31603) stainless steel with better corrosion resistance will be the material of choice. Especially when the building is close to sea water or in an environment where roads are sprayed with deicing salt. However, the performance of stainless steel on these old buildings is surprisingly good, even though these old buildings use a lower alloying type of stainless steel. At the time of the centenary of stainless steel development, these early buildings were a shining testimony about their durability and longevity.

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