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Who Designed the Home Insurance Building

The Home Insurance Building was a ten storey building located in Chicago that was completed in 1884. It is considered by many to be the first skyscraper ever constructed. This wasn’t because it was the tallest building in the world, it was only 42 m (138 ft) tall, but because of the unique architecture and steel weight bearing frame (known as skeleton construction). The architecture used on the building paved the way for further skyscrapers and other architects and engineers began using the ideas from this design. The building was demolished in 1931 to make way for the Field Building, but it remains a very important step in architecture. Let’s find out who designed this building.

Who designed the Home Insurance Building?
The American engineer William Le Baron Jenney was the architect for the project. His design featured metal beams and columns to support the weight of the building, which was a revolutionary idea at the time. By using this design he reduced the weight needed and paved the way for taller structures.

It is said that he came up with his idea after his wife put her heavy book down on top of a steel framed bird cage. Jenney went over and dropped the book a few times on top of the cage and came up with his revolutionary idea. It was from this simple demonstration that he realized that this type of structure is extremely strong and could be used for the framework of a building.

Did you know?
Before this time stone or brick was used to create tall buildings, but this material was very heavy. Due to the lighter materials being used and the skeleton construction, the Home Insurance Building weighed one third of the usual weight of a stone building. The officials were so concerned about this that they stopped construction while they conducted a safety review.

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