Although aluminium was largely unused in civil engineering and major construction projects in the early years of the twentieth century, the metal soon became popular as a material in buildings in the 1920s. This is because aluminium was expensive to produce and wasn't made in sufficient quantities to make it very useful.
However, once electrolysis was developed as an industrial means of producing aluminium at much lower costs, architects began to see its value. One of the very first buildings in which this shiny metal was first used on a large scale was during the construction of the windows for the Empire State Building, the world's most iconic skyscraper, built in New York in 1931. Since then, aluminium has been used in many other applications. What are they?
Along with its famous shiny window frames, the Empire State Building's designers used aluminium for many of the building's basic structures. This is because the skyscraper was destined to be the world's tallest building at the time of its conception, and the relatively new material was deemed to be the most suitable for internal structures given its excellent strength to weight ratio.
These days, aluminium is often used for poles by scaffolding firms. Just like the structural elements of the world's first skyscrapers, it is the strength of an aluminium scaffold that makes it a preferred choice. Of course, being a lightweight material, aluminium poles are also easier for scaffolders to install and to raise up and down by hand than other options, such as steel. Many of the world's newest buildings will have had an aluminium scaffolding platform to help construct them even if they end up without a scrap of metal in them once finished.
These days, many of the globe's office blocks are constructed with a central column around which a curtain wall is suspended. This is most commonly made from a good deal of glazing which reflects the surrounding area as well as allowing a plenty of natural light to flood in. Among the most popular construction materials to frame these large sections of glazing is aluminium. Not only is it reflective, helping it to blend in with the glasswork, but it is also robust and able to withstand all that the weather can throw at it. Unlike some other metals, aluminium is extremely corrosion-resistant, making it ideal for curtain walls, glazed atria and double glazing fenestration units.