Broadway-Chambers: Holding the Facade

The illustrations in old skyscraper marketing books tend to fall into two categories: pretty pictures of the exterior or main interior spaces, and construction photos. The pretty pictures are a traditional form of showing off architecture, and the construction photos were the 1900 way to show off high tech. The Broadway Chambers building’s book, because …

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Broadway-Chambers: A Cartesian Grid

The picture above, from the marketing book for the Broadway Chambers Building, is one of a sequence showing the steel frame as it was being erected. The first photo, showing columns just sticking up at grade, is dated October 26, 1899; the last regular photo is from January 18, 1900 and shows the frame topped …

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Ungainly On The Outside, But Pretty Bones

The level of ornament put on an early-1900s skyscraper like the City Investing Building can make it hard to believe that it’s all structurally supported by a steel frame. The picture above shows the Broadway entrance to the building, at the far eastern end of the long narrow neck of the building that leads to …

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Woolworth: Bracing

I might as well continue the parallelism between the Singer and Woolworth Buildings that I started yesterday. The Woolworth building has a fairly complicated wind-bracing system, which is in part a reflection of the very different conditions in the top 30 stores (the “tower”) and the bottom 30 stories (“the base.”) The tower is slender …

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Singer: Bracing

Moving up from the Singer Building’s caissons, we have its steel frame. Given the building’s extreme (for the twentieth century) slenderness ratio of more than 9, wind bracing was the over-riding concern of the designers rather than gravity. Wind-bracing issues show up everywhere in the structure, starting with the tie-downs embedded in the caissons. The …

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