History of Metal Buildings

History Of PEB

One of the most desirable qualities about metal buildings is their resistance to fire. Interestingly, fire resistance is the reason engineers began building with metal in the first place. The earliest record of metal as a building component, replacing timber, was back in 1796. British cotton mills were notorious for their flammability, causing devastating results. So, at the end of the eighteenth century, the Dithering ton Flax Mill was constructed using cast-iron columns and framework.

As business owners began to understand the cost-saving advantages of using flame-resistant building materials, the demand for wrought- and cast-iron steadily increased.

The 19th Century: The Era of Metal Building Innovation

Throughout the nineteenth century, architects and builders used iron predominantly for framing. Due to the product’s cost and labor intensive nature there was very little innovation in its production, which limited its application in the field. That all changed in the middle of the nineteenth century. Firstly, rolled iron beams were experimented with and perfected. Rolled iron beams were used in 1859 to construct the Cooper Union Building in New York City. Their popularity grew from there. The second major advancement in metal building construction occurred when Henry Bessemer found a way to burn carbon and silicon out of pig iron, transforming it into steel. Each inventive step in iron and steel manufacturing paved the way for more innovative and durable designs.

The Evolution of Metal Building Systems

Metal building systems have gone through a metamorphosis over the past two centuries. Here are some of the most memorable highlights.

1901 – Buy a Garage for Your Model T

Of course every man – and woman – needed a garage to house their Model T. Enterprising Butler Manufacturing answered the need by designing the first pre-fabricated metal building for human use. Prior to 1909, the Butler brothers garnered a successful reputation making prefabricated agricultural products. However, their prefabricated steel and metal car portsbecame the bread-and-butter of their business. Their model utilized corrugated metal sheets, arched over a frame, creating a signature curved building that became an influence for many modern metal buildings structures.

1917 – Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings

The Austin Company, located in Cleveland, Ohio, pre-engineered 10 standard commercial building designs that could be selected from a catalog. This was revolutionary in increasing the construction process as orders could be shipped within a matter of weeks because there was no need for a design phase. They set up district sales offices, which was a new way to gain a more personalized regional customer base.

World War II and Beyond

Throughout the early 20th century, companies and factories began churning out metal building components for industrial and agricultural applications. It wasn’t until WWII, that pre-engineered and pre-fabricated metal buildings became an American staple. Between WWII metal airplane hangars and Quonset hut housing, metal buildings were here to stay.

Today’s metal buildings are a culmination of centuries of innovative and forward-thinking building design, resulting in some of the most durable, and energy-efficient and affordable construction applications available.