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Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934$
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Thomas Leslie

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037542

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037542.001.0001

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Glass and Light: “Veneers” and Curtain Walls, 1889–1904

Glass and Light: “Veneers” and Curtain Walls, 1889–1904

Chapter:
(p.78) Chapter 5 Glass and Light: “Veneers” and Curtain Walls, 1889–1904
Source:
Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934
Author(s):

Thomas Leslie

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037542.003.0005

This chapter describes major structures built from 1889 to 1904, many of which used skins of lightweight terra-cotta and glass that exploited new wind-bracing techniques and depressed glass prices to achieve unprecedented transparency. The flourishing of lightweight skins supported by rigid steel frames was uniquely permitted by Chicago's codes, which minimized the required thickness of masonry walls. Chicago's code helped architects and engineers solve the problems that continued to plague tall buildings on its poor soil. At 90 pounds per cubic foot for hollow brick and up to 140 pounds for pressed, the reduction of masonry envelopes from deep structural walls to thin veneers had immediate benefits. For instance, the six-foot walls of the Monadnock's first story weighed nearly a ton per running foot. Replacing this with a twelve-inch-thick wall of nonstructural hollow tile would have eliminated some 95 percent of the first-floor walls' dead weight.

Keywords:   Chicago, building construction, terra-cotta, glass, wind bracing, building codes

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