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20 American Steel Architecture Wonders

Structural steel is the backbone of many of our planet’s architectural wonders.

The Golden Gate Bridge, the Disney Concert Hall, even Houston’s own Astrodome (sometimes referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World) are built with the help of – you guessed it – steel!

It almost seems that if you’re looking to impress people with monumental buildings steel is the most important ingredient.

Some of the first uses of steel in architecture were recorded on suspension bridges in China, back in the 7th century. One of the first suspension bridges in the United States is the Brooklyn Bridge, which relies on the same materials now to support 100,000 cars, 10,000 pedestrians, and 4,000 cyclists.

But this is just the beginning, read on to learn more about 20 of the most impressive North American steel structures.

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Designed by William F. Lamb and built in 1931 during the Great Depression, the Empire State building soars up 102 stories tall, which was a huge feat for the time. For over 40 years, it was the world’s tallest building. Today, the Empire State Building remains one of Midtown Manhattan’s mesmerising Art Deco gems. The panoramic observatory on the 102nd floor is supported by 57,000 tons of steel and 10 million limestone bricks.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Image Source

It comes as no surprise that the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California has found its place at the very top of the list of construction achievements of the 20th century as well as among Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Traversing the Golden Gate strait, the Bay Area landmark is annually crossed by almost 40 million vehicles including bicycles and cars on their journey across the bay.

Sears Tower

Sears Tower Image Source

The Sears Tower, also known as the Willis Tower, is a 110-story tall icon of the Chicago skyline. Constructed using a “steel-framed bundled-tube construction method”, this skyscraper is admired by more than 1.7 million visitors annually. When it was opened in 1973, Sears Tower surpassed New York’s World Trade Center as the world’s tallest building – and has held onto this title for 25 years.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge Image Source

The Brooklyn Bridge is more than just a steel structure – it is a National Historic Landmark and a work of art according to its designer John Roebling. Constructed in 1883, this steel-wire structure is suspended over the Easter River in New York City. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles and thousands of pedestrians and cyclists cross the bridge daily on their journeys between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The Steel House by Robert Bruno

The Steel House by Robert Bruno Image Source

The dome-shaped Steel House, located in Ransom Canyon, east of Lubbock, Texas, is perhaps one of the most interesting steel structures on the list. Steel sculptor Robert Bruno worked on the house’s design and construction for over 30 years until his death in 2008. Around 110 tons of steel form not only four “legs” of the house but also various organic shapes of the spaceship-looking structure itself.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall Image Source

As a true steel fairytale, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is almost entirely made out of this iron alloy. Constructed by Frank Gehry and built in 1987, this architectural masterpiece is located in Los Angeles, California. The stainless steel exterior resembles sails that encapsulate the 2,265 seat auditorium.

Newport Beach Civic Center and Park

Newport Beach Civic Center and Park Image Source

With an investment of over $75 million, this sustainable and award-winning project includes a city hall, library, offices and a whole lot of steel. The Center’s open expression is finished with a wave-shaped roof, providing the structure with an airy atmosphere. The overall landscape is made even more beautiful with native California plants.

Seagram Building

Seagram Building Image Source

Seagram Building is a Manhattan minimalist gem. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the director of Bauhaus, and constructed in 1958, this functional building today houses various restaurants and other establishments. Concrete core and steel frames work together to create this simple masterpiece that has been copied all around the world for over 60 years.

Krishna P. Singh Center For Nanotechnology

Krishna P. Singh Center For Nanotechnology Image Source

Krishna P. Singh Center For Nanotechnology is one of the youngest buildings on the list. Located at the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, this impressive building provides an inspiring setting for nanotech researchers. This seemingly simple steel, concrete, and glass structure is isolated from its surrounding in order to allow for a safe and stable environment for the development and testing of sensitive nanotechnology.

U.S. Courthouse, San Diego

U.S. Courthouse, San Diego Image Source

Another example of harmony between exposed structural steel, glass, and concrete is the $300 million U.S. Courthouse located in downtown San Diego, California. General office, chambers, 14 courtrooms and other facilities spread over 463,700 square feet. Additionally, the construction embraces various plazas, gardens, and other urban pedestrian areas.

Brookfield Place Entry Pavilion

Brookfield Place Entry Pavilio Image Source

The former World Financial Center underwent a $250 million expansion and overall renovation back in 2013. Today, this impressive waterfront complex houses public and retail spaces and is known as Brookfield Place. The most striking features of the newly renovated space is thought to be the 53-foot sculptural steel columns in the entry pavilion that connects the underground passageway spreading westwards from the World Trade Center all the way to the Hudson River.

Eli And Edythe Broad Art Museum

Eli And Edythe Broad Art Museum Image Source

Eli And Edythe Broad Art Museum is a contemporary art museum located at the Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. Opened in 2012, the museum is a product of collaboration between an art collector and philanthropist Eli Broad and Zaha Hadid’s London studio. With signature Hadid lines, clean forms and unparalleled expression, this architectural wonder is characterized by castellated beams, wide flanges, and non-parallel concrete walls.

San Diego Main Public Library Dome

San Diego Main Public Library Dome Image Source

With its 140-ft diameter wide, post-tensioned steel-leaved dome, San Diego Main Public Library Dome is a true steel masterpiece. The library spreads across 10 stories high structural core that ties together the building’s two wings. The building was granted a national award and enriches the downtown San Diego landscape with a unique touch.

One World Trade Center, New York

One World Trade Center, New York Image Source

Opened in 2014 after 8 years of development in lower Manhattan, One World Trade Center (1WTC) is currently one of the tallest buildings in the world and the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

Also known as the Freedom Tower, this construction was granted a Presidential Award of Excellence in Engineering. The building is envisioned to be the tallest of four towers of The World Trade Center site, previously referred to as “Ground Zero”. The structure has a robust concrete core with a ductile steel moment frame.

Nascar Hall Of Fame

Nascar Hall Of Fame Image Source

Founded in 2010 and located in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Nascar Hall Of Fame features a wide glazed oval Great Hall with an impressive Hall of Honor situated within it, a broadcast studio at the Hall of Fame Plaza, as well as the rectangular volume that houses galleries and guest services. The building’s appearance conveys the elements of spectacle and speed by means of architecturally exposed structural steel elements, glass and stone.

Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Barclays Center, Brooklyn Image Source

The Barclays Center is a 675,000-square feet large multi-purpose indoor arena. Opened in 2012, the building now serves as a home for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and at least 19,000 of the team’s rowdiest fans. In addition to the basketball games, the venue annually hosts around 200 hockey, sports and entertainment events. Visitors are invited to enjoy conference rooms, party suits, bars, clubs, as well as 95 luxury suites. The building is unique and recognizable due to the weathered steel frame that encloses the structure.

Hl23, New York

Hl23, New York Image Source

HL23 is a 14-story building that spreads across 42,395-square feet in New York’s West Chelsea District. In addition to mega-panel glass, 11 luxury condominiums are enclosed with a stainless steel curtain wall system. Both elements work together to create a dynamic, modern structure that truly stands out from its surroundings.

Twilight Epiphany

Twilight Epiphany Image Source

The Twilight Epiphany is a permanent outdoor installation at Rice University in Houston. Best known for his experiential artworks and play with light and darkness, James Turrell envisioned the Skyspace as a two-level gallery and an acoustic space designated for musical performances. The use of structural steel has helped create the appearance of a floating rooftop and has provided the construction with additional structural depth.

Chelsea Piers Connecticut

Chelsea Piers Connecticut Image Source

Chelsea Piers Connecticut, once a facility for the manufacturing of Herbal Essence shampoo, is now a 400,000 square feet sports complex in Stamford, Connecticut. The venue was reopened in 2012 and has tennis, squash, and baseball courts, an aquatic center, two NHL ice rinks, and numerous other sports facilities. The functional appearance of the building is reinforced with truss steel and concrete elements.

El Dorado Conference Center

El Dorado Conference Center Image Source

Located in the Arkansas oil capital of El Dorado, the construction of this conference center aimed to bring a vibrant atmosphere back into a once lively, thriving town. Brick, wood, and steel work together to create a warm, welcoming and geometric appearance to this unique building.

Steel buildings and architecture have found their place across the United States form the very core of our cultural heritage. Steel structures are prominently used for everything from small temporary structures to some of the tallest buildings in the world. If you are planning a project that would benefit from steel, contact Texas Iron and Metal and our knowledgeable staff will assist you. Feel free to call us at 800.839.4766 or message us here.

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