The Relative Value of Invention and the History of Tall Buildings

  • Tom F. Peters


History is as mutable as the criteria on which it is based. Does tall building history originate with the stiff post-and-beam frame or perhaps with tubular structure? The answer depends entirely on our point of veiw. Is the use of modern steel crucial to the development of the stiff frame connection or is it the abandonment of the cast-iron column? The answer is “yes” to both, which makes it very difficult to posit the beginning of tall building construction as we understand it today. Was or is the curtain wall of any interest in this development at all? Again the question is not an easy one, nor the answer obvious. All the answers depend more on the current interest of the questioner than on any absolute standard of “truth.” But that doesn’t make them any the less interesting as they determine not only a chronology of invention but also the determination of historical value and our understanding of engineering culture.


Tall Building Slag Inclusion Curtain Wall Stiff Frame Modern Steel 
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© Van Nostrand Reinhold Company Inc. 1988

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  • Tom F. Peters

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