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The most iconic metal buildings in the world: Six of the best

Some of the world’s most famous structures are made of metal. Take a quick tour of our favourite iconic metal buildings and landmarks, from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium in China.

All the architects of these incredible structures had the vision to transform metal into something magical. Which one would you like to visit?

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, USA

From its sweeping metal curves to its acclaimed acoustics and the beauty of its gardens, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles – home to the LA Philharmonic – is music for the senses.

Created by famed architect Frank Gehry, the concert hall was a gift from Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian Disney, in tribute to her husband and his love of the arts and the city of LA.

Opened in 2003 and costing an estimated $274m USD – way over its original budget – it’s one of the most iconic metal buildings in the world and a true cultural icon in LA.

Its distinctive metallic architecture was only made possible by the use of special 3D software. The same software used by the aerospace industry, it translated Gehry’s ambitious design into workable construction plans.

But how the building looks today wasn’t how it was originally imagined. Gehry had envisioned the concert hall to be clad in stone, but due to its distinct curvature – and rising project costs – a much more pliable stainless steel skin was used instead.

Iconic metal buildings - Walt Disney Concert Hall

Image sourced from Walt Disney Concert Hall

Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

Paris’ Pompidou Centre – celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – is a steel superstructure home to the city’s vast free public library and the largest modern art museum in Europe.

Named after Georges Pompidou – France’s President who commissioned the building – it opened in 1977 and has since attracted over 180 million visitors.

Architects Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini were awarded the project through an architectural design competition, the first time international architects were allowed to take part.

Their exposed infrastructure design of tubing, escalators and metal framework has made the Pompidou Centre instantly iconic, requiring over 15,000 tonnes of steel in its construction.

The bright colours of the structure and its tubes aren’t just to add interest; the colours identify what they’re ‘moving’. Green pipes circulate water, blue circulates air, yellow circulates electricity and red circulates people – it’s why the giant red escalator on the side of the building and all elevators are red.

By putting the functional aspects of the building on the outside, the architects cleverly ensured interior space was maximised. No wonder it’s one of our favourite iconic metal buildings.

Iconic metal buildings - Centre Pompidou Paris

Beijing National Stadium ‘Birds’s Nest’, China

Beijing National Stadium’s incredibly intricate, nest-like design is world-famous – but it was actually originally intended just to hide supports for a retractable roof.

A joint venture that included architects Herzog & de Meuron, Arup and artistic consultant Ai Weiwei, the design was inspired by Chinese ceramics and consists of two independent structures with a red concrete seating ‘bowl’ and an outer steel frame around it.

The awe-inspiring nest structure was created to blend supports for the retractable roof, which was then later eliminated from the design altogether by Beijing officials.

And although it looks totally random in style, each half of the stadium is almost identical. Seating up to 91,000 people, athletes will once again swoop into the ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. You can even walk its roof for some of the most spectacular views of Beijing.

Chrysler Building, New York, USA

One of the most famous skyscrapers ever built, the Chrysler Building was once the tallest building in the world at 319 metres. A landmark of the New York skyline, it was built in the 1920s by Walter Chrysler, head of the Chrysler Corporation, as a monument to his company.

Designed by architect William van Alen, the Chrysler Building is decorated with radiator caps and eagle emblems as seen on the company’s cars. But it’s the steel Art-Deco ‘crown’ and spire at the top that makes this skyscraper rise above the rest.

Clad in riveted stainless steel – known as Nirosta steel – in a radiating sunburst pattern, each sheet of the crown had to be measured on site, with most of the work carried out in workshops within the building during construction.

Steel is a vital component of the Chrysler Building – it’s still the tallest steel-supported brick building in the world and a tourist favourite when it comes to iconic metal buildings.

Iconic metal buildings - Chrysler building New York

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

It took over 18,000 pieces of wrought iron, 2.5million rivets and two years of graft by a team of over 300 on-site workers to bring the Eiffel Tower to life, and it’s now the most visited paid monument in the world.

Standing at 324 metres high, it is the tallest structure in Paris. Completed in 1889, for 41 years it held the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world.

Incredibly, no drilling or shaping of the metal components was done on site – it was all precision-made first in a local factory and then sent to the site by horse-drawn carriage to be bolted together. If any part didn’t fit, it was sent back to the factory for alteration.

Originally created as a gateway for the 1889 World’s Fair, its unique lattice design has made it a universally-recognised symbol of France.

Image sourced from Tour Eiffel 

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia

Affectionately known as the ‘Coathanger’, the Sydney Harbour Bridge connects the city’s CBD to its North Shore. Opened in 1932, it’s still the world’s largest steel arch bridge, serving Sydney’s pedestrian, rail and road users carrying over 180,000 vehicles a day.

It took over six million hand-driven rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel to build the bridge, with almost 80% of it coming from England. The type used then was known as silicon steel, similar to modern day structural steels.

The steel was sent by steamship from Dorman, Long & Co’s UK plant to Milsons Point – where Luna Park stands today – where it was marked out, cut, drilled and planed to form the components of the bridge.

An estimated 2,500 to 4,000 workers were employed to build various different aspects of the bridge, which took eight years to create.

Six of the best most iconic metal buildings - Arrow Metal review

Arrow Metal: Customised and in-stock perforated metal for projects of all sizes

If you’re inspired by these iconic metal buildings and need metal for your project, Arrow Metal can help. We have the capability and expertise to produce custom perforated metal in any design, with in-stock standard profiles ready to ship. We also specialise in welded and woven wire mesh in a variety of metals including brass.

Speak to our team for advice on (02) 9748 2200 or get in touch online.


Posted: December 19, 2017

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