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The Crystal Palace: The Beginning of Iron & Glass Architecture References: Hix, John: The Glass House McKean, John: The Crystal Palace.

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Presentation on theme: "The Crystal Palace: The Beginning of Iron & Glass Architecture References: Hix, John: The Glass House McKean, John: The Crystal Palace."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Crystal Palace: The Beginning of Iron & Glass Architecture References: Hix, John: The Glass House McKean, John: The Crystal Palace

2 The Great Exhibition; London, 1851 A “Great Exhibit of the Works of Industry of All Nations” The building was the epitome of England’s industry, vision, determination, wealth, technical knowledge, and powers of production.

3 Charles Dickens said of the project, “Two parties in London, relying on the accuracy and good faith of certain ironmasters, glass-workers in the provinces, and of one master carpenter in London, bound themselves for a certain sum of money, and in the course of four months, to cover eighteen acres of ground with a building upwards of a third of a mile long (1851 feet- the exact date of the year) and some hundred and fifty feet broad. In order to do this, the glass maker promised to supply, in the required time, nine hundred thousand square feet of glass (> 400 tons). The iron-master passed his word in like manner, to cast in due time 3300 iron columns; 34 miles of guttering tube, 2224 girders. The carpenter undertook to get ready within the specific period 205 miles of sash-bar; flooring for a building of thirty-three millions of cubic feet; besides enormous quantities of wooden walling, louver work and partition.”

4 The Building Delivery Process 01/1850 The Royal Commission, Chaired by Prince Albert 03/13/50 Competition announced for temporary exhibition building 240 entries, none chosen, instead committee offered it’s own design A brick structure with an iron dome - dark, heavy, permanent

5 Fears Abound protectionists feared foreign goods environmentalists feared destruction of elms the press feared foreign visitors - Papists, thieves, & syphilitics

6 Problems with the Committee’s Design 17 million bricks, 200ft dome, extensive foundations, a permanent structure By 06/50 things looked bleak

7 Enter the “White Knight”: Joseph Paxton founded newspaper, wrote books on horticulture, wrote articles on greenhouse design knew several people on Royal Commission they found loophole to allow design submission

8 Architectural Conservatory; Prof. Richard Bradley, 1718 School of Botany at Cambridge conformed to rules of arch., but considered welfare of plants. glass dome, thin Corinthian columns., white tile walls

9 Das Grosses Gew ä chshaus; Kassel, 1822

10 Great Conservatory; Paxton, 1836 Longest glass building in the world 277’L x 123’ W x 67’ H. Laminated wood beams, cast iron columns along the nave, ridge & furrow glazing system

11 Great Wall at Chatsworth; Paxton, 1848 330’ long enclosure of an exist. masonry wall

12 Victoria Regia House; Paxton, 1850 cultivating a growing Victoria Regia Lilly from S. America leaves supported by thin cantilevers first “flat roof” installation of ridge & furrow glazing system two tilted 49” glass panes + sash equals 81”, c/c. 24’ girders + deep gutters + trussed Paxton gutter

13 Victoria Regia House; Gutter Details external & interior waterways change of depth trusses with “pretensioning”

14 For the Crystal Palace, Paxton….. promised a full set of drawings in 10 days based on a sketch during a RR board meeting, he & estate staff produced drawings in seven days - almost exact to what was actually built

15 After Paxton’s First Sketches Were Accepted…. Fox Henderson & Co. undertook calculations and the prep of detailed drawings. bid of £150, 000 - if left standing bid of £79,800 if leased now the building committee needed to approve the plans

16 Paxton Leaked Design to Illustrated London News cheaper, quicker, assemble/ disassemble, no brick, stone, mortar, light foundation, day lighting, no interior walls, 25% greater area committee was furious public overwhelmingly positive

17 On 07/15…. Royal Commission rejected Building Committee’s design & accepted Paxton’s lower bid added transcept to save the elms

18 Construction Drawings Fox - 7weeks, 18hrs/ day to produce drawings as soon as drawings were finished, Henderson set up production schedule small crew installed drainpipes & light foundations

19 Exterior: Overall Building: 1848’ x 456’ Nave: 72’W x 64’ H Transcept: 408’ x 104’ H


21 Modular, Hierarchical


23 Cast Iron in Buildings: Crystal Palace 3,300 columns from 14 1/2 to 20 ft tall 34 miles of guttering tube below grade 2,224 girders Cast Iron Applications in Buildings 1796 - Shrewesbury Warehouse 1809 - cast iron dome in Paris 1849 - cast iron facades by J. Bogardus 1851 - Crystal Palace 1855 - Bessemer Process for steel making 1884 - Home Insurance Building, Chicago

24 Cast Iron in the Crystal Palace Column ends were lathe turned Canvas gasket dipped in white lead at the joints 3’ deep collar with connecting lip Girders secured with wrought iron wedges

25 Column Schedule


27 Strength Testing: several iron bridges had failed in the 1840’s for public assurance: marching soldiers and rolling cannon balls for the engineers: hydraulic press tested 214 girders with 24’ span tested at 15T and 22T first private testing laboratories & concept of factor of safety

28 Wood 600,000 cu ft of wood milled into >200 miles of gutters and sash bars milling operation input rough beams and output finished profiled gutters dipped in paint trough and run across fixed brushes to remove excess

29 Glass Chance Bros. & Co. won the contract from 08/50 - 02/51, they produced: >300,00 sheets >900,000 sf >400T largest sheet ever made, 10” x 49” from the cylinder process this contract equaled 1/3 of England’s total prior production

30 Ridge & Furrow Glazing

31 Daylight suffered from excessive light and heat gain canvas was stretched from ridge to ridge with drain holes over the furrow sprayed with water for cooling also included a mechanical ventilation system

32 Transcept laminated wood beams reinforced with iron rods sloping sash bars for the glazing system

33 Time & Budget 9/26/50: First column on site Columns placed just 18 hrs after casting 01/51 Structural frame completed Bid: £79,800 Change Orders: £27,980 + £35,000 Total Cost: £142,780

34 The Exhibition: By 9/25/51: £451,000 in receipts On 10/7/51: almost 100,000 guests On 10/11/51: closed to the public On 5/12/52: Sold for £70,000


36 After the Crystal Palace Lyndhurst by Lord & Burnham Hothouses for the millions

37 Horeau & Turner: Prize Winners for Exhibition Paris & London proposals, Paris executed Train stations, other exhibitions, NY etc.

38 Hot Houses for the Millions Residential Greenhouses Winter Garden in the Anglo-Japanese Style

39 Glass House by Bruno Taut “Expressionist” architecture Built at the Cologne Werkbund Concrete lamellar structure Glass ceilings, walls, floors, tiles

40 Outcomes professional A/E jealousy and fear shift from A/E to design/ build concern that modular buildings could not be suited to individual sites/ needs search for an appropriate aesthetic

41 Influences on Today’s Building Practices structural frame standard rolled shapes standard details strength testing prefabrication assembly/ disassembly published w/ enough detail to allow others to build project management

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