Week One Research: Cast Iron/Steel Beam Morphology


Week One Research Project

Reading: Cast Iron America


-To read the Origins of Cast Iron Construction to understand the utilitas/ veritas and the origination of iron and how it came to be one of the most popular construction components


1.)  Bogardus, James, Daniel D. Badger, and John W. Thomson. The Origins of Cast Iron Architecture in America. New York: Da Capo, 1970. Print.

Preface/Reflections of Source:

-My initial though was that this source would be poor to use because of its lack of discussion of Steel beams and its focus on Iron beam.  But, as I continued reading and skimming through the source I found that it was giving me a great a background and build up to the use of Iron in America and what that showed about the utilitas of a building as well as the veritas.  Thus, this sources ability to give a solid background will help me comprehend the foundation of the sources that I will research in the upcoming weeks.

Summary of Reading

-Cast Iron became popular in architecture around the 1850 and was used regular until the 1880’s in the American culture.  At first cast iron was received from the British and was shipped.  This lead to very expensive cost and thus the buildings that implemented cast iron were buildings that had major finical backing behind them.  Soon advantages were noticed about iron not burning, unless under extremely high temperatures, and its ability to be both tensile and strong within buildings.  This made it very advantageous to use this material to construct buildings with for many reasons.  First, especially during the industrial revolution, fires became very common and would reek havoc upon cities even though it was just started in one building because of the ability of wood to burn.  Thus cast iron was very popular in that aspect especially when firms in the states were created to extract iron ore from the ground and produce iron beams.  Pennsylvania soon became the main manufacturing base for the production of Iron.  This mean that all the cities around that area were the first to implement the use of cast iron as support beams.  This evolution of cast iron began around the 1820’s and by the 1830’s became very popular in cities such as Lancaster and Philadelphia where not only was cast iron produced and used in stores, but were also utilized in different styles of architecture.  The first to use and implement cast iron was in the states and was a mix of both French architecture with cast iron supporting the advanced designs.  One of the main architects that many followed in this movement towards cast iron was James Bogardus.  He played a vital role in proving to the public that cast iron was the next generation of building materials.  He spent most of his career on this objective.  At first though, he was very unsuccessful in changing the current paradigm of architecture, but as time progressed he started a movement that can be seen today and has defined nearly half a century of architecture.

Related Images:

Image 1.) Pg 80

-This image shows a store front, which ascetically looks very similar to the Lancaster buildings (Hardware Store) discussed earlier in the blog. It shows the use of cast iron on each floor to be weight bearing and fire retardant. It also shows how the hidden aspect of the Cast Iron can be used to tell the veritas of a specific building

Image 2.) Pg 87

-This image represents the sectional/floor plan for one of the first buildings to use a cast iron frame. This shows just how the utilitas can be shown through just understand the use of the frame, which acts as the Skelton of the building


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