All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions

20 Steel Projects from the 20th Century

20 Steel Projects from the 20th Century

The advent of steel in architecture at the beginning of the 20th century is considered as one of the most innovative construction developments in history, allowing architects to create structures with heights, flexibility, and freedom never seen before. Henry Bessemer invented the most successful steel-making process in 1855, but it was not until 1890 that the process was refined enough for construction. The first steel constructions on both sides of the Atlantic, the Rand McNally Building in Chicago and Forth Bridge in Edinburgh, were record-breaking structures of their time.

Over the ensuing century, steel rose to prominence as the material of choice for architectural innovators. Whether it was Buckminster Fuller's iconic domed structures, or the soaring towers of Norman Foster, or the high-tech operation of the Centre Pompidou, the 20th century was one where steel allowed architects to imagine what in previous centuries would have been deemed impossible. Here are 20 examples. 

Woolworth Building / Cass Gilbert

Woolworth Building / Cass Gilbert
Woolworth Building / Cass Gilbert

Chrysler Building / William Van Alen

Chrysler Building / William Van Alen. Image New York Architecture
Chrysler Building / William Van Alen. Image New York Architecture

Barcelona Pavilion / Mies van der Rohe

Barcelona Pavilion / Mies van der Rohe. Image © Gili Merin
Barcelona Pavilion / Mies van der Rohe. Image © Gili Merin

Maison de Verre / Pierre Chareau + Bernard Bijvoet

Maison de Verre / Pierre Chareau + Bernard Bijvoet. Image © Wikimedia user: Subrealistsandu
Maison de Verre / Pierre Chareau + Bernard Bijvoet. Image © Wikimedia user: Subrealistsandu

The Glass House / Philip Johnson

The Glass House / Philip Johnson
The Glass House / Philip Johnson

Seagram Building / Mies van der Rohe

Seagram Building / Mies van der Rohe. Image 375parkavenue.com
Seagram Building / Mies van der Rohe. Image 375parkavenue.com

Steel Pre-Fab Houses / Donald Wexler

Steel Pre-Fab Houses / Donald Wexler. Image © Juergen Nogai
Steel Pre-Fab Houses / Donald Wexler. Image © Juergen Nogai

Montreal Biosphere / Buckminster Fuller

Montreal Biosphere / Buckminster Fuller
Montreal Biosphere / Buckminster Fuller

Centre Le Corbusier (Heidi Weber Museum) / Le Corbusier

Centre Le Corbusier (Heidi Weber Museum) / Le Corbusier. Image © Samuel Ludwig
Centre Le Corbusier (Heidi Weber Museum) / Le Corbusier. Image © Samuel Ludwig

Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center / Kenzo Tange

Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center / Kenzo Tange. Image Courtesy of Petr Šmídek - www.archiweb.cz
Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center / Kenzo Tange. Image Courtesy of Petr Šmídek - www.archiweb.cz

Neue National Gallery in Berlin / Mies van der Rohe

Neue National Gallery in Berlin / Mies van der Rohe
Neue National Gallery in Berlin / Mies van der Rohe

Willis Tower (Sears Tower) / SOM

Willis Tower (Sears Tower) / SOM
Willis Tower (Sears Tower) / SOM

Citigroup Center / Hugh Stubbins + William Le Messurier

Citigroup Center / Hugh Stubbins + William Le Messurier. Image © Flickr user paulkhor
Citigroup Center / Hugh Stubbins + William Le Messurier. Image © Flickr user paulkhor

Centre Georges Pompidou / Renzo Piano Building Workshop + Richard Rogers

Centre Georges Pompidou / Renzo Piano Building Workshop + Richard Rogers. Image © conservapedia.com
Centre Georges Pompidou / Renzo Piano Building Workshop + Richard Rogers. Image © conservapedia.com

The Crystal Cathedral / Philip Johnson

The Crystal Cathedral / Philip Johnson. Image © Flickr user Paul N.
The Crystal Cathedral / Philip Johnson. Image © Flickr user Paul N.

Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank / Foster + Partners

Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank / Foster + Partners
Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank / Foster + Partners

Menil Collection / Renzo Piano

Menil Collection / Renzo Piano. Image © D Jules Gianakos
Menil Collection / Renzo Piano. Image © D Jules Gianakos

Bank of China Tower / I.M. Pei

Bank of China Tower / I.M. Pei
Bank of China Tower / I.M. Pei

Maison Bordeaux / OMA

Maison Bordeaux / OMA. Image © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA
Maison Bordeaux / OMA. Image © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

Millennium Dome / Richard Rogers (RSHP)

Millennium Dome / Richard Rogers (RSHP)
Millennium Dome / Richard Rogers (RSHP)

Project gallery

See all Show less
About this author
Cite: Niall Patrick Walsh. "20 Steel Projects from the 20th Century" 17 Feb 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/933851/20-steel-projects-from-the-20th-century/> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.