The Biggest and Most Famous Steel Structures in the World
Steel has been available for construction purposes since the end of the 19th century. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is widely considered to be the event that first made this material popular. When thousands of buildings made of timber went up in flames, Chicago architects turned to steel to rebuild the city.
This led to the construction of the 10-storey Home Insurance Building in Chicago, in 1885. It is regarded as being the first construction with a steel skeleton frame using reinforced concrete. 5 year later, the Rand McNally Building in the same city was the first all-steel framed skyscraper. What other amazing steel structures has the world seen since then?
Boeing Factory in Washington
The title of the world’s largest steel building doesn’t go to a towering skyscraper. Instead, it is the massive Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. In fact, this is the planet’s biggest building of any type in terms of volume. It covers 472 million cubic feet and was designed as a space to make jumbo jets in.
Work started in 1966 on a site that ran over 630 acres of forest. Close to 3,000 construction workers took part in the mammoth task of building 3 enormous building sections that have since been expanded even further. Without the strength and durability of steel, this work would have been impossible.
Currently still the tallest building on Earth, the Burj Khalifa has 160 stories and measures 2,716 feet. Reinforced concrete is one of the main materials used, but it also contains 31,400 tons of steel too.
Work began here in 2004 and was completed in 2010. The 4,000 ton central spire of the building is made of structural steel and measures 200 metres (660 feet) in height. If this steel spire was located in Europe on its own then it would be the continent’s 11th tallest building.
Beijing National Stadium
The outer shell of this stadium is the biggest structure in the world that is made completely out of steel. It is also known as the Bird’s Nest due to the giant steel beams that sit outside an inner concrete bowl. Each of the 24 trussed columns weighs 1,000 tons.
Work began in 2003 and it was officially opened in 2008. In the European Union, major construction projects using this steel, CE marked fabrications have been mandatory since 2014. This provides a guarantee of quality to a high standard.
The Empire State Building
In 1931, the world’s tallest building was unveiled in New York. The Empire State Building held onto this title for 4 decades, becoming one of the most iconic structures on the plant during that time, featuring in films such as King Kong. Incredibly, it only took 13 months for the work on this structure to be completed.
It was built using 730 tons of steel, together with almost 10 million bricks of limestone. It contains 102 stories and rises to a height of 1,250 feet (380 m), with the antenna taking it up to 1,454 feet (443.2 m). It remains a popular tourist attraction, with 4 million annual visitors to the observatory decks on the 86th and 102nd floors.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Many of the world’s most spectacular bridges also feature steel in their structures. A good example is New York’s Brooklyn Bridge. Over 600 workers spent 14 years building this giant bridge, from 1869 through to 1883.
This was a major breakthrough, as it was the first time that a suspension bridge has been built using steel wire. With a hybrid wire design and cement / granite towers, this bridge is strong enough to be used by over 150,000 pedestrians and vehicles each day.