There are steel buildings and then there are steel buildings.

Obviously I’ve too much time on my hands if I’m trawling the internet finding fabulous ferrous structures for anybody with an eye for aesthetics and appreciation of top-notch tinbashing to find interesting. Or, in other words, concocting a list of steel buildings or structures that a brilliant tinbasher with a penchant for model railways could scale down and make teeny-tiny versions for their train set. (Now that’s a niche!)

I’m not saying this is definitive as I know I’ve missed one or two obvious ones off the list. It’s also a bit Frank Gehry heavy but he’s made some absolute beauties out of stainless steel and I’m keen on them.



Walt Disney Concert Hall Stainless Steel Building

Here’s the first of the buildings in the Frank Gehry collection. In a way it seems rather odd that Disney went for this, but then again it also seems perfectly apt.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall at 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, California is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center. Bounded by Hope Street, Grand Avenue, 1st and 2nd Streets, it seats 2,265 people and serves (among other purposes) as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

The Frank Gehry-designed building, an example of Deconstructivism, opened on October 23, 2003 and features his trademark steel cladding. While the architecture (as with other Gehry works) evoked mixed opinions, the acoustics of the concert hall were widely praised in contrast to its predecessor, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

More pictures here and more info here.


Atomium Steel Building

I think I’d honestly go to Belgium just to see this. If only Blue Peter had been a bit more architecturally-savvy then I could’ve made one of these with a few ping pong balls, some pipe cleaners and a can of silver spray paint.

Built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair (Expo ’58), the 103-metre (335-foot) tall Atomium monument represents a unit cell of an iron crystal (body-centred cubic), magnified 165 billion times, with vertical body diagonal, with tubes along the 12 edges of the cube and from all 8 vertices to the centre.

Nine steel spheres 18 metres in diameter connect via tubes with escalators as long as 35 m, among the longest in Europe. Windows in the top sphere provide a panoramic view of Brussels. Other spheres have 1950s exhibitions. Three upper spheres lacking vertical support are not open to the public for safety reasons.

Read more about the Eiffel Tower of Brussels.


Steel Building Peter B Lewis Cleveland

I really have no excuses for not going and having a look at this seeming it’s just down the road in Cleveland. (In the nice part, too!)

Named after Peter B. Lewis, chief executive and president of Progressive Insurance, Frank Gehry’s building in the Case Western Reserve campus is a $62 million building (of which Mr. Lewis gave $37 million) with 152,000 square feet of space.

You can read more about it, view some rather nice pictures and watch some videos here.


Blackpool Tower

As a Lancashire lad, I’ve had many a trip to Blackpool. Always as a kid you’d play ‘spot the tower’ as you approached on the train. Also, as a kid not knowing any better, you’d eagerly scream that you’d seen it every time you saw an electricity pylon in the distance. My one abiding memory of Blackpool Tower was getting hit by a flake of paint whilst walking past it and looking up at some guys painting it at the top. It’s typical that Blackpool thought this an attraction in itself rather than adhering to stringent health and safety measures. Still, it was the seventies. Half an inch higher and my eyeball would’ve been sliced in two like a pickled onion at an hibachi joint. Oh the potential pain.

Blackpool Tower is a tourist attraction in the town of Blackpool, Lancashire, in the north of England (grid reference SD306360). The tower is 158 m (518 ft 9 in) tall. It was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. It cost GBP £42,000 to construct, and it first opened to the public on 14 May 1894. It is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers.

I could bang on about this all day, but I’d rather leave it to you if you want to know more about it.


Gehry Tower Building

Not only do I like this building, I also like the idea that it was commissioned after Mr. Gehry had designed a bus stop for the city of Hanover, too. It’s nice to know the likes of Frank Gehry are offered the little piddling jobs as a means of checking work standards before getting the creamy jobs. If only we could say the same here at Butler Sheetmetal.

Gehry Tower is a nine-story building constructed by architect Frank Gehry; it is located at the Steintor, Goethestraße 13a, in Hanover, Germany. The building was commissioned by the city-owned Hanover Transport Services (üstra), for whom Gehry also designed a bus stop in the city.

Constructed of stainless steel, the tower is memorable for the noticeable twist in its outer façade on a ferroconcrete core, making optimal use of the relatively small piece of ground on which it is located. Like many of Gehry’s buildings, the tower was created with the most modern technology available at the time. Gehry’s office first created a 1:100 model, which was then scanned and imported into CAD software to be able to compute the dimensions for the individual parts, all of which vary in size and shape.

Construction began in 1999, cost 8.5 million Deutsche Mark, and the building was officially opened June 28, 2001.



Cloud Gate Polished Stainless Steel Sculpture

Yes, I’m fully aware that this isn’t a building. However, if it suddenly started raining you could use it as a shelter. Subsequently, it scrapes in by the skin of it’s teeth.

The sculpture is shaped like an ellipse, and its legume-like appearance has caused it to be nicknamed “the Bean”. It is made of 168 highly polished stainless steel plates, and stands at 33 feet high, 66 feet long, and 42 feet wide, weighing 110 tons. From a distance it looks like a huge drop of liquid mercury, while up close it is highly reflective, capturing the skyline, the downtown cityscape and the warped images of passers-by. The artist, Anish Kapoor, has referred to the sculpture as “a gate to Chicago, a poetic idea about the city it reflects”.

The sculpture is like a fun-house mirror, reflecting and dislocating people’s images. The artist has transformed the sculpture’s two-dimensional physical structure into three-dimensional space. This effect is most dramatic in the 12-foot underbelly (which the artist refers to as the “omphalos” or navel), where people’s reflections are multiplied in the vortex.

More from Wikipedia here. Some interesting factoids about how many gallons of Liquid Tide it takes to clean the thing here.


Guggenheim Museum

If you can’t work out who’s behind this then you really do want shooting.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Canadian/American architect Frank Gehry and opened to the public in 1997,was immediately vaulted to prominence as one of the world’s most spectacular buildings in the style of Deconstructivism. The museum’s design and construction serve as an object lesson in Frank Gehry’s style and method. Like much of Gehry’s other work, the structure consists of radically sculpted, organic contours. Sited as it is in a port town, it is intended to resemble a ship. Its brilliantly reflective panels resemble fish scales, echoing the other organic life (and, in particular, fish-like) forms that recur commonly in Gehry’s designs, as well as the river Nervión upon which the museum sits.

Read More.


The Chrysler Building

I’ve only been to New York the once and that was a whistle-stop affair for three hours before a flight. Obviously, I did what all dumb tourist do and head for the Empire State Building. Then, like a small proportion of even dumber tourists do, I saw the spire of the Chrysler Building and headed for that thinking it was the Empire State. Definitely one of my better know-it-all mistakes. I was blown away by everything I saw in New York, but the Chrysler Building really is a bit special.

The spire, composed of ‘Nirosta’ stainless steel, was hoisted to the top of the building on October 23, 1929, making the Chrysler Building not only the world’s tallest building, but also the world’s tallest structure. The steel chosen to cap the building was Krupp KA2 “Enduro” Steel.

Much, much more on The Chrysler Building here


EMP Sheet metal building

Here’s the last of the Frank Gehry buildings you’ll be pleased to know. I like that it looks like a giant has shot-gunned a can of Bud and done the macho crushing thing before tossing it in the general direction of Seattle. Others haven’t been so kind:

“Frank Gehry,” remarked British-born, Seattle-based writer Jonathan Raban, “has created some wonderful buildings, like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but his Seattle effort, the Experience Music Project, is not one of them.” New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp described it as “something that crawled out of the sea, rolled over, and died.” Forbes magazine called it one of the world’s 10 ugliest buildings. Others describe it as a “blob” or call it “The Hemorrhoids”.

Read more about the controversial building here and check out some great photos here.


Corrugated Iron Church

Let’s hear for all those quaint, yet quirky, bits of England (and other parts of the world) that some regard as eyesores and some look at fondly as a time gone by.

I’ve no idea how I came across this site and maybe you think I either ran out of ideas or have lost the plot. But, as soon as I started looking around it I was reminded of home. I’ve always had a thing for lonely, wonky little shacks in the middle of nowhere held together by nothing but fresh air and a spot of rust.

You’ve no idea why half of the things were put up in the first place and you’ve even less of an idea how they’re still standing.

Perhaps it’s just a personal metaphor.

Go and take a look at The Corrugated Iron Club as, just like its subject matter, it’s been left to slowly rust in the middle of nowhere.

Anybody got any other suggestions?