Origins of Skyscrapers, Their Design Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1159 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Architecture

"In New York City, meanwhile, commercial building flourished in the early years of the twentieth century, and new skyscrapers quickly set height records. Though the basic technology of the steel frame had been worked out in Chicago, New York buildings soon eclipsed those in Chicago in size and conveniences, if not always in direct functional expression" (Roth 187).

The Singer Building in New York utilized new techniques to brace for high winds, and was the tallest building in the world, with 42 stories, when it was built. "Ernest Flagg's Singer Building, 1906-8, is a good example of the New York type. The forty-seven stories far exceed what was being done in Chicago, and the slender proportions of the tower were remarkable. To brace the tower against turbulent New York winds, crossed diagonals were used at the corners, and while this was expressed by the heavy corner wall piers enclosing the glass curtain-walls, it was not so directly expressive of the frame perhaps as were the works of Sullivan, or Holabird & Roche" (Roth 187).

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The building was covered with green and red terra cotta on the outside, and the tall tower in the center of the building included an observation deck. The tower was supported by the larger block base of the building. It was also the first building to use electricity to light a spire. "The foundations of the building consisted of 36 caissons sunk to bedrock, 92 feet below the surface. It is said that Ernest Flagg's design of a setback building, may have influenced NYC's setback law of 1916, in which (basically) buildings needed to 'step up' as it went higher, in order to avoid having nothing but giant blocks all over the city. He told a City Hall hearing committee that buildings should be restricted to 3/4's of their sites, thus assuring open ground area and adequate light, or be restricted to no more than 100 feet in height" (Damore).

Term Paper on Origins of Skyscrapers, Their Design, Assignment

William van Alen built the Chrysler Building in 1930, and it was the tallest building in the world when it was completed. The beautiful art deco Nirosta stainless steel spire on top of the building was constructed inside the top floors of the building, and put in place in about 90 minutes when it was completed. The spire served no other purpose than to make the building taller than any other in the world. The building's "pierless corners reflect the cantilevers of the International Style and whose richly modeled aluminum spire is the nearest equivalent to European Art Deco" (Roth 245).

Van Alen was never paid for his work on the building, because of a dispute with owner William Chrysler. He designed few buildings after the Chrysler. Today, it is still one of the most stylish and striking buildings in the world.

Clearly, the Chicago School influenced skyscraper construction in New York. They gave them the techniques to build tall buildings, in another city where space was at a premium. However, New York architects took skyscrapers to a higher level, so to speak. They developed new techniques to brace buildings against high winds, and techniques to make buildings taller and narrower. They created a completely new building form, which continues today.

Works Cited

Damore, Chris. "History of the Singer Building." Chrysler 2002.


Harris, Tom. "How Skyscrapers Work." How Stuff Works. 2002.


Roth, Leland M. A Concise History of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Origins of Skyscrapers, Their Design.  (2002, April 20).  Retrieved February 28, 2021, from

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"Origins of Skyscrapers, Their Design."  20 April 2002.  Web.  28 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Origins of Skyscrapers, Their Design."  April 20, 2002.  Accessed February 28, 2021.