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Steel Structure Trivia: One of the First Modern Skyscrapers
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM.


Here’s MSC’s February Steel Structure Trivia question! “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.” This famous quote is by a renowned Chicago City planner and architect, one of three visionaries who revolutionized architectural design when they created one of the first modern skyscrapers in 1895. Pictured above as it stands today, the building–which is 14 stories, an incredible feat when it was built–was restored in the 1990s to become a signature hotel and gorgeously illustrates Chicago’s past and present glory. Can you name this steel building? Photo: AISC


This historic steel skyscraper is Chicago’s Reliance Building, which was carefully restored and resurrected as the Hotel Burnham, a Kimpton Hotel, in 1999. Congratulations to our winners: Josh Ogle, an engineering intern with J-U-B Engineers in Utah; Subir Saha Choudhury, P.E., a structural engineer with Jacobs Canada, Inc. in Edmonton; and Matthew Danza, P.E., a structural engineer with John Maltese Iron Works, Inc., (an AISC member) in North Brunswick, N.J. And thank you to all who participated.


The famous quote mentioned in the above photo caption is by renowned Chicago City planner and architect Daniel Burnham. He, along with John Root and Charles Atwood, were the visionaries who revolutionized architectural design when they created the Reliance Building in 1895. Its radical steel and glass design set the precedent for the modern skyscraper, ushering in a new era in architectural design that has since shaped the skylines of cities around the globe.


The first floor and basement of the building were designed by John Root of the Burnham and Root architectural firm in 1890, with the rest of the building completed by Charles Atwood in 1895, according to Wikipedia. The addition of the remaining floors in 1894-1895 completed the building and marked the “first comprehensive achievement” of the Chicago construction method. The building’s plate-glass windows are set within the terra-cotta-tiled facade, and its steel-framed superstructure is built atop concrete caissons sunk as far as 125 ft beneath the footing.


The Reliance Building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and in 1976, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. It is also part of downtown Chicago’s Loop Retail Historic District, a collection of more than 100 buildings that reflect the growth of State and Wabash Streets as the central retail district of Chicago.


You can test your steel structure knowledge right here on our MSC website on the last Friday of each month, where a new photo will be posted to the Steel in the News section as our weekly “Steel Shot.” Your challenge is to correctly answer the trivia question provided in the news post, based on what you see in the photo. The next question will be posted on Friday, March 29, at 10 a.m. (CST).



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