Steel Frame Construction Term Paper

Pages: 15 (4365 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Architecture

Steel Frame Construction

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Appendix a An Analysis of the Selection, Application or Installation of Materials and Building Components Used in Steel Frame Construction Today

An increasing number of commercial and residential structures are using steel frame construction techniques today. The increased popularity of this building technique has grown from its early beginnings in Chicago a century and a half ago to become the building method of choice for many urban settings today. This increased use is directly attributable to a number of key advantages that steel frame construction has been shown to have over other construction techniques. For example, according to Fanjoy (2006), "While a versatile building material, lumber can pose a number of challenges to builders and remodelers: sudden and sizeable fluctuations in price, for example, or rot and dimensional instability due to exposure to moisture, either at the building site or after installation. But there is an alternative: steel framing" (3). This author reports that steel frame construction provides a number of advantages over other construction techniques, including its relative stable price, high strength and durability, light weight, minimal waste and resistance to infestation and rot; the installed cost of steel framing, though, is typically higher because of increased labor and other installation factors (Fanjoy 4). Because resources are by definition scarce, it is therefore important to recognize when and where steel frame construction is an appropriate choice, and what factors should be taken into account when making this determination.

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Purpose of Study.

The purpose of this study is to develop a best practices model for the selection and application or installation of materials and building components for steel frame construction purposes based on a critical review and analysis of the relevant peer-reviewed and organizational literature.

Importance of Study.

Term Paper on Steel Frame Construction Assignment

Beyond the need to ensure that a building conforms to a wide range of regulatory requirements from federal, state and local authorities, there is a more fundamental need to meet the needs of all stakeholders in the construction of new buildings in the United States today. In most cases, these stakeholders include virtually every resident in a given municipality, and given the economic impact of high rise buildings in particular to the national and global economy (witness the World Trade Center destruction of September 11, 2001), identify appropriate building materials and construction techniques for steel frame construction purposes has assumed increasing importance today.

Scope of Study.

The primary focus of this study will remain on contemporary applications, properties, strengths and limitations of steel frame construction techniques, based on the theory that emerged from the technique's early beginnings with the Home Insurance Building in Chicago (see graphic at Appendix A) to identify driving forces behind innovations and alternative construction techniques. The scope of the study will be defined by the following research questions:

What is the guiding theory behind steel frame construction today?

What is the current code of standard practice for steel frame construction?

What are the material selection considerations that should be taken into account?

What are the primary strengths of steel frame construction?

What are the primary limitations of steel frame construction?

Rationale of Study.

While every construction setting is unique, it is possible to identify some best practice guidelines to determine when and why steel frame construction techniques are a superior choice, and to use these guidelines as a starting point for further analysis and development.

Overview of Study

This study employed a three-section approach to Section 1 provides an introduction to the topic under consideration, a statement of the problem, the purpose of the study and its importance, as well as the study's scope and rationale. Section 2 provides a description of the research methodology used and why it was selected, and Section 3 provides a discussion and analysis of the material developed during the research process. A bibliography and sources for additional reading are followed by an appendix with relevant graphics.

Section Two: Methodology

Overview of Section Two.

This section provides a discussion of the research design and sample, the data analysis technique used, and a description of steps taken to ensure the reliability and validity of the approach; in addition, a discussion of the assumptions and limitations of the methodology for the study is followed by a summary of the chapter.

Research Design.

A review of the available research methodologies indicated that a grounded theory approach using a critical review of relevant peer-reviewed, organizational and governmental resources would provide the best well-rounded answers to the above-stated guiding research questions. In this regard, Wood and Ellis (2003) identified the following as important outcomes of a well conducted literature review in a construction industry context:

It helps describe a topic of interest and refine either research questions or directions in which to look;

It presents a clear description and evaluation of the theories and concepts that have informed research into the topic of interest;

It clarifies the relationship to previous research and highlights where new research may contribute by identifying research possibilities which have been overlooked so far in the literature;

It provides insights into the topic of interest that are both methodological and substantive;

It demonstrates powers of critical analysis by, for instance, exposing taken for granted assumptions underpinning previous research and identifying the possibilities of replacing them with alternative assumptions;

It justifies any new research through a coherent critique of what has gone before and demonstrates why new research is both timely and important.

The literature review proceeded using a number of sources, including university and public libraries, as well as reliable online sources such as EBSCO, Questia, federal governmental Web sites and where appropriate, organizational Web sites of major national and international building materials suppliers and vendors. Searches for relevant material in these settings included the use of phrases such as "steel frame construction," "building material selection criteria," "cold formed," etc. In addition, serendipitously identified resources were incorporated where appropriate.

Summary of Research Findings.

The research showed that steel frame construction techniques have evolved from their beginnings with the Home Life Building in Chicago in the mid-19th century to a wide range of commercial and residential structures today. The research was consistent in showing that the choice of steel framing can provide a number of advantages over other construction techniques, but there are some constraints to its use as well as some cost factors that must be taken into account when making the decision to use one construction approach over another. Finally, the research showed that unless specified to the contrary in the construction contract documents, the trade practices defined in the American Iron and Steel Institute Committee on Framing Standards Code of Standard Practice for Cold-Formed Steel Structural Framing control the design, fabrication and installation of cold-formed steel structural framing in the United States (Code of Standard Practice for Cold-Formed Steel Structural Framing 10).

Section Three: Discussion and Analysis


The theory behind steel frame construction has become accepted practice today, and is based on the fundamental concepts first identified through the construction of the world's first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building in Chicago (Pietig 177). According to this author, "The innovative method of support used to construct this building eliminated the need for foundations, and thus he suggests a new metaphor for teacher education: What was remarkable about it was that this ten-story skyscraper did not rest on a firm foundation. The architects invented a new form of support. Instead of heavy foundations and bearing walls, they built a steel skeleton, a scaffolding that was internal to the building" (Pietig 178). Contractors initially erected the scaffolding, and then effectively hung the skyscraper on that steel frame skeleton. "That system of girders and skeletal scaffolding remains to this day the technology for building skyscrapers. It is much more powerful than a solid foundation because it is integral to the structure. It weaves itself through it; it becomes part of the very structure it is trying to support" (Pietig 178).

In a report by Marsden (2005), the point is made that the Home Insurance Building was actually the product of two events, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the invention of the elevator. "On the evening of Sunday, October 8, 1871, a fire began in Chicago which burned so fiercely that it took several days before it was brought under control. Almost 300 people were killed and 100,000 made homeless as 18,000 buildings were destroyed. The city fathers decided that the city would rise again, only this time more emphasis would be placed on building regulations" (Marsden 78). The engineer responsible for developing the theory behind the first steel frame construction was former Civil War Union Army engineer Major William Le Baron Jenney (1832-1907) (Marsden, 78).

According to Marsden, "While designing the 138-foot, ten-story Home Insurance Building, he incorporated a steel frame construction for the top four floors - thus enabling the building to be taller than normal for the city and inadvertently building the world's first skyscraper. This enthused many other architects, who soon began constructing… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Steel Frame Construction" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Steel Frame Construction.  (2006, November 19).  Retrieved September 21, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Steel Frame Construction."  19 November 2006.  Web.  21 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Steel Frame Construction."  November 19, 2006.  Accessed September 21, 2020.