Stainless steel has been the leading material for projecting progressive, modern architecture for more than eighty years. It is also popular for high-traffic public transit, security and other architectural applications where long-term durability is an essential consideration. The nickel-containing 300 series stainless steels are the most widely-used alloys in use for these applications.
The earliest-known architectural applications date from the mid-1920s and were relatively small, low-profile projects such as entrances and industrial roofing. Many of these early installations remain in service, including the entrance canopy of London’s Savoy Hotel, constructed in 1929.
Mankind has always sought to build large structures as a means of expressing its power and wealth, or as competition between owners. Sometimes, it is simply to push the limits of technology. Skyscrapers are the twentieth century pyramids, so it seems fitting that the first large-scale architectural applications for stainless steel were for the then-tallest buildings in the world; the Chrysler (1930) and the Empire State Buildings in New York City (1931). Although the Chrysler Building held the record as the world’s tallest for only a few months, its elegant, glittering, stainless steel Art Deco styling has made it an enduring, internationally-recognised example of classic skyscraper design.