Look out the window at any major skyline and you will see building upon building showcasing shining, towering examples of steel. Perhaps now more than ever, it’s easy to see, as it’s a predominant feature in everything from parks and museums to even private residences, with exposed beams or inspiring frames that, at times, seem to defy gravity.
Architecturally exposed structural steel has been gaining popularity in recent years, according to experts like Mark Thimons, vice president of sustainability for the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI). When Thimons travels, he often finds himself looking out the window or up at the sky at the structures that tower overhead. “If you look at some of the new steel buildings being built—structural steel or cold-formed steel—there are some really interesting things being done. It can be an exciting material to design with—you can do pretty much anything with it.”
In addition to aesthetics, properly designed steel structures provide long-term durability—and they’re resistant to corrosion, mold, vermin, and more. Steel doesn’t warp or crack, and it’s not harmed by moisture. In terms of design, the options for steel are almost limitless. In a world where seemingly few things are made to last, steel endures, and there are countless reasons why today’s architects continue to turn to steel for their projects.
Green Building & Design Magazine talked to Tom Kirk, principal for Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, about some of the top reasons to design with steel. Many of the projects that the architects of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson work on utilize steel, and Kirk says they appreciate the material’s straightforwardness. “You can see what the building is doing and use it to organize and shape spaces.” But what are some other reasons to design with steel?
Steel lasts. Many Bohlin Cywinski Jackson clients love steel, and Kirk does, too. “A lot of our clients wish to build for perpetuity and we are not interested in suggesting materials that are not going to last,” he says. Steel is among the most reliable materials out there, and of course it can be recycled after its service life.