Structural stainless stands the test of time in buildings

Feb 28, 2011 | 07:00 PM | Bill Beck

Tags  stainless steel, structural, Chrysler Building, corrosion, 316, LEED

Architects, designers and structural engineers first discovered the durability of stainless steel as a building material when automobile magnate Walter P. Chrysler commissioned the iconic building bearing his name in midtown Manhattan.

The 77-story Chrysler Building officially opened for business in spring 1930. "It was the first-ever large installation of stainless steel in an architectural installation," said Catherine Houska, senior market development manager at TMR Stainless, Pittsburgh.

Houska, who has managed the market development program of the Nickel Institute to promote increased use of stainless steel in architecture in North America, said the Chrysler Building’s six-tier roof was clad in stainless steel to mimic the chrome hubcaps and hood ornaments of 1930 Chrysler roadsters.

The architects who designed the Chrysler Building didn’t expect the stainless cladding on the skyscraper’s roof to last anywhere near as long as it did, but nature has conspired to keep it as corrosion-free 80 years after its installation as it was when it was first installed. Houska said the roof height shields it from much of the de-icing salt used at ground level, and because of the winds at the summit every rainstorm that sweeps across Manhattan essentially pressure washes the building with clean water.....

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