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QUESTION: Sketch and discuss the components, methods of fabrication,
and assembly of a steel skeleton frame, for tall buildings.

The vertical or gravity load carrying system of a multi-storey steel-framed building

comprises a system of vertical columns interconnected by horizontal beams, which
supports the floors and roofing. The resistance to lateral loads is provided by
diagonal bracing or shear walls or rigid frame action between the beams and
columns. Thus, the components of a typical steel-framed structure are:
• Beams
• Columns
• Floors
• Bracing Systems
• Connections
A beam is a structural element that is capable of withstanding load primarily by
resisting bending. The bending force induced into the material of the beam as a
result of the external loads, own weight, span and external reactions to these loads
is called a bending moment. Beams are characterized by their profile (shape of
cross-section), their length, and their material.
Beams are traditionally descriptions of building or civil engineering structural
elements, but smaller structures such as truck or automobile frames, machine
frames, and other mechanical or structural systems contain beam structures that
are designed and analyzed in a similar fashion.
Classification of beams based on supports In engineering, beams are of several
• Simply supported - a beam supported on the ends which are free to rotate and
have no moment resistance.
• Fixed - a beam supported on both ends and restrained from rotation.
• Over hanging - a simple beam extending beyond its support on one end.
• Double overhanging - a simple beam with both ends extending beyond its
supports on both ends.
• Continuous - a beam extending over more than two supports.
• Cantilever - a projecting beam fixed only at one end.
• Trussed - a beam strengthened by adding a cable or rod to form a truss.
Column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a structural element that
transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural
elements below. In other words, a column is a compression member. The term column
applies especially to a large round support (the shaft of the column) with a capital and
a base or pedestal and made of stone, or appearing to be so. A small wooden or
metal support is typically called a post, and supports with a rectangular or other non-
round section are usually called piers. For the purpose of wind or earthquake
engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces. Other compression
members are often termed "columns" because of the similar stress conditions. Columns
are frequently used to support beams or arches on which the upper parts of walls or
ceilings rest. In architecture, "column" refers to such a structural element that also has
certain proportional and decorative features. A column might also be a decorative
element not needed for structural purposes; many columns are "engaged", that is to
say form part of a wall.
A column that carries the load down to a foundation must have means to transfer the
load without overstressing the foundation material. Reinforced concrete and masonry
columns are generally built directly on top of concrete foundations. When seated on a
concrete foundation, a steel column must have a base plate to spread the load over
a larger area, and thereby reduce the bearing pressure. The base plate is a thick,
rectangular steel plate usually welded to the bottom end of the column.
A floor is the walking surface of a room or vehicle. Floors vary from simple dirt in a
cave to many-layered surfaces. Floors may be stone, wood, bamboo, metal, or any
other material that can support the expected load.
The levels of a building are often referred to as floors although a more proper term
is story or storey.
Floors typically consist of a subfloor for support and a floor covering used to give a
good walking surface. In modern buildings the subfloor often has electrical wiring,
plumbing, and other services built in. As floors must meet many needs, some essential
to safety, floors are built to strict building codes in the first world.

Special floor structures are used for a number of purposes:

• Balcony, a platform projecting from a wall
• Floating floor, normally for noise or vibration reduction
• Glass floor, as in glass bottomed elevators
• Nightingale floor makes a noise when an intruder walks on it
• Raised floor, utilities underneath can be accessed easily
• Sprung floor, improves the performance and safety of athletes and dancers

A bracing system is a secondary but essential part of a bridge structure. A bracing

system serves to stabilize the main girders during construction, to contribute to the
distribution of load effects and to provide restraint to compression flanges or chords
where they would otherwise be free to buckle laterally.
The intermediate bracing can be triangulated as shown or a stiff beam with
moment-resisting connections to the main girders. There are alternative bracing
types for multi-girder decks, and these are discussed later.
Bracing provides one or more of the following functions:
• Control buckling of the main beams
• Load distribution
• Dimensional control
Connections are the devises which are used to join elements of a structure together
at a point such that forces can be transferred between them safely.
• Welded connections
• Riveted connections
• Bolted connections

Connections can be classified according to the types of loads they transmit, and the
scale of those loads. A compressive load, for example, might be carried in several
different ways, by direct compression between members, by welding between
members, or by using bolted splice plates. In some cases, an equal tensile load in the
same member could only be carried by welding.
A shear connection at the end of a simply-supported beam needs a different type of
connection from tension and compression members, and if the same beam is not
simply-supported but 'continuous' another type of connection capable of
transmitting moments as well as shear forces is required.
The scale of the load and the size of the member can be important. For very large
forces, even very thick plates may be inadequate and an alternative connection
detail must be devised.
The special processes that many fabrication shops develop or invest in, based on
their customers’ needs and their expertise are as follows:
• Casting
• Chipping
• Extrusion
• Forging
• Heat Treatment
• Hydroforming
• Plastic Welding
• Powder Coating
• Powder Metallurgy
• Welding

Metal fabrication is the building of metal structures by cutting, bending, and

assembling processes:
• Cutting is done by sawing, shearing, or chiselling (all with manual and powered
variants); torching with hand-held torches (such as oxy-fuel torches or plasma
torches); and via numerical control(CNC) cutters (using a laser, mill bits, torch, or
water jet).
• Bending is done by hammering (manual or powered) or via press brakes and
similar tools. Modern metal fabricators utilize press brakes to either coin or air-
bend metal sheet into form. CNC-controlled back gauges utilize hard stops to
position cut parts in order to place bend lines in the correct position. Off-line
programing software now makes programing the CNC-controlled press brakes
seamless and very efficient.
• Assembling (joining of the pieces) is done by welding, binding with adhesives,
riveting, threaded fasteners, or even yet more bending in the form of a crimped
seam. Structural steel and sheet metal are the usual starting materials for
fabrication, along with the welding wire, flux, and fasteners that will join the cut
pieces. As with other manufacturing processes, both human labour and
automation are commonly used. Shops that specialize in this type of metal work
are called fab shops. The end products of other common types of
metalworking, such as machining, metal stamping, forging, and casting, may
be similar in shape and function, but those processes are not classified as
Metal fabrication is a value added process that involves the construction of machines
and structures from various raw materials. A fab shop will bid on a job, usually based on
the engineering drawings, and if awarded the contract will build the product. Large
fab shops will employ a multitude of value added processes in one plant or facility
including welding, cutting, forming and machining. These large fab shops offer
additional value to their customers by limiting the need for purchasing personnel to
locate multiple vendors for different services. Metal fabrication jobs usually start with
shop drawings including precise measurements then move to the fabrication stage and
finally to the installation of the final project. Fabrication shops are employed by
contractors, OEMs and VARs. Typical projects include; loose parts, structural frames for
buildings and heavy equipment, and hand railings and stairs for buildings.

The assembly of a steel skeleton frame involves the following steps:

• Raw materials
• Cutting and burning
• Forming
• Machining
• Welding
• Final assembly

Raw Materials:
Standard raw materials used by metal fabricators are;
i. plate metal
ii. formed and expanded metal
iii. tube stock,
iv. welding wire/welding rod
v. Casting

Cutting and burning:

The raw material has to be cut to size. This is done with a variety of tools.
The most common way to cut material is by Shearing (metalworking);
Special band saws designed for cutting metal have hardened blades and a feed
mechanism for even cutting. Abrasive cut-off saws, also known as chop saws, are
similar to miter saws but with a steel cutting abrasive disk. Cutting torches can cut very
large sections of steel with little effort.
Burn tables are CNC cutting torches, usually natural gas powered. Plasma and laser
cutting tables, and Water jet cutters, are also common. Plate steel is loaded on a table
and the parts are cut out as programmed. The support table is made of a grid of bars
that can be replaced. Some very expensive burn tables also include CNC punch
capability, with a carousel of different punches and taps. Fabrication of structural steel
by plasma and laser cutting introduces robots to move the cutting head in three
dimensions around the material to be cut.
Forming is a process of material deformation.
Forming is typically applied to metals. To define the
process, a raw material piece is formed by
applying force to an object. The force must be
great enough to change the shape of the object
from its initial shape. The process of forming can be
controlled with the use of tools such as punches or
dies. Machinery can also be used to regulate
force magnitude and direction. Proper design and
use of tools with machinery creates a repeatable
form which can be used to create products for
many industries, including jewellery, aerospace,
automotive, etc.

Machining is the process of removing unwanted
material from the block of metal to get the desire
shape. Machining is a trade, in and of itself,
although Fab shops will generally entail a limited
machining capability including; metal lathes,
mills, magnetic based drills, along with other
portable metal working tools.

Welding is the main focus of steel
fabrication. The formed and machined parts
will be assembled and tack welded into
place then re-checked for accuracy. A
fixture may be used to locate parts for
welding if multiple weldments have been
Special precautions may be needed to prevent warping of the weldment due to
heat. These may include re-designing the weldment to use less weld, welding in a
staggered fashion, using a stout fixture, covering the weldment in sand during
cooling, and straightening operations after welding.

Final assembly:
After the weldment has cooled it is generally sand blasted, primed and painted. Any
additional manufacturing specified by the customer is then completed. The finished
product is then inspected and furnished.
The erection of structural steelwork consists of the assembly of steel components into a
frame on site. The processes involve lifting and placing components into position, then
connecting them together. Generally this is achieved through bolting but sometimes
site welding is used. The assembled frame needs to be aligned before bolting up is
completed, and the structure handed over to the principal contractor.
Often the ability to complete these processes safely, quickly and economically is
influenced significantly by early decisions made during design long before erection
commences. It is important that designers clearly understand the impact that their
decisions can have; "build-ability" is a valid design objective.
Good site co-ordination will facilitate a smooth running project. Adequate access is
required by the steelwork contractor for steel transportation, unloading and erection,
both on the site as well as on surrounding or adjacent access roads. The provision of
well-prepared level ground that is able to take the requisite wheel loads is essential.
Use of the BCSA Safe Site Handover Certificate will assist in meeting these
requirements, thus reducing the risk of accidents and delays due to poor and unsafe
site conditions.

Four design factors to be considered that contribute to build-ability are:

• Repetition and standardisation: There are two aspects to standardisation: repetition
of the same building type (e.g. the portal shed) and common / standard details for
• Achievable tolerances: If "tight" tolerances are specified (i.e. more restrictive than
those in the National Structural Steelwork Specification - NSSS), then special controls
will be needed and possibly specially-engineered details.
• Frame type: Here, the primary choice is between braced frames or continuous
• Floor systems: For multi-storey frames, the choice of floor system will affect the
erection sequence as it determines the stability of the part erected structure.

Cranes and MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms) are predominantly used for the
erection of structural steelwork for buildings and bridges, although other techniques
are sometimes used for steel bridge construction. Generally, cranes may be divided
into two broad categories, mobile and non-mobile. The first category includes truck
mounted cranes, crawler cranes and all-terrain cranes, whilst the second category
primarily covers tower cranes.
MEWPs are used to access the steelwork during erection, i.e. to bolt-up the pieces
being lifted in by the crane. However, the MEWPs themselves can be used both on
the ground or on the partly erected steelwork to erect lighter steel elements directly
provided special measures are taken to support the MEWP (e.g. steel sections to act
as rails supported on the partly erected steel). Also the steelwork will need to be
checked that it can support the weight of the MEWP.
To achieve the client’s aspirations on cost, programme and quality, planning for
construction should start at the very beginning of the design process. Such planning
should consider the construction sequence, the design factors that affect build-
ability, and site practice in terms of typical erection plant.

A separate article on Health and Safety includes a section that identifies the design
decisions that affect the erection method statement development. In design and
planning context, there are three planning factors that affect the build-ability:
• Practical erection sequence: The location of bracing systems or other means of
maintaining structural equilibrium are crucial here.
• Simplicity of assembly: Simply-assembled connections are the main factors here.
• Logical trade sequences: This will affect how development of the master contract
programme as the Pre-tender H&S plan metamorphoses into the Construction H&S

Steel erection essentially consists of four main tasks:
• Establishing that the foundations are suitable and safe for erection to commence.
• Lifting and placing components into position, generally using cranes but
sometimes by jacking. To secure components in place bolted connections will be
made, but will not yet be fully tightened. Bracings may similarly not be fully
• Aligning the structure, principally by checking that column bases are lined and
level and columns are plumb. Packing in beam-to-column connections may need
to be changed to allow column plumb to be adjusted.
• Bolting-up which means completing all the bolted connections to secure and
impart rigidity to the frame.


Lining, levelling and plumbing consists of an interaction between the site engineer
using the survey instrument and the erection gang doing the final bolt tightening and
shimming. By the progressive use of wedges, jacks, pull-lifts and proprietary pulling
devices such as Tirfors, the erection gang persuades the frame to move to a position
acceptable to the checking engineer and then bolts it up firmly. Some lack-of-fit is
overcome in this process, and some is created. If the latter is adverse, local
corrections are made.

Tolerances on frame and member geometry are specified in order to ensure that the
‘as built’ frame geometry complies with the designer’s assumptions.


Using post-drilled fixings requires that the equilibrium of the structure be temporarily
secured. This is rarely economic for primary members of the frame but is often used
for secondary members such as wind posts for glazing. These can be offered up after
the main frame is securely aligned and held in position using the main frame whilst
their base fixings are drilled.
The same considerations apply where the steel frame has to be fixed to a concrete
core or a masonry wall. Ideally, an adjustable steel attachment plate should be cast
into the wall, then surveyed and adjusted such that the subsequent process involves
merely as steel-to-steel erection.

Non-structural interfaces that are common in steel framed buildings include:

• Attachment points and penetrations for M&E services.
• Lift installations.
• Internal fit-out panels including fire protection boards.
• Perimeter and internal masonry walls.
• Metal cladding panels to roof and walls.
• Curtain walling.
• Glazing for façades and skylights.

Site connections should generally be bolted, as it is faster, less susceptible to poor
weather conditions, and has less onerous access and inspection requirements than
site welding.

Items of temporary works that are integral to the permanent steelwork can include:
• Bracing members and connections required for stability during erection or deck
• Lifting attachments for individual members, or assemblies (e.g. welded or bolted
lifting lugs, drilled holes for eyebolts or cleats)
• Drilled holes for structural restraint prior to fixing bearings
• Steel guides and cleats to aid alignment, fairing and securing of connections for
• Drilled holes or welded attachments for securing personnel access, edge
protection, and fall arrest systems
• Bolted or welded brackets for subsequent works including false-work.
QUESTION: Sketch and discuss the components, methods of fabrication,
and assembly of the superstructure of the case study example of the
tall building chosen before.
The composite structural system for SWFC was
designed to resist typhoon winds and earthquake
forces and accommodate poor soil conditions
while providing a very slender tower to be fully
occupied for office and hotel uses. Reinforced
concrete, structural steel and the combined use of
structural steel and RCC (composite) members are
used for the structural system. Reinforced
concrete, with its excellent mass, strength, stiffness
and damping characteristics, combined with
strength, speed of construction, long span
capabilities, and lightweight characteristics of
structural steel are used in SWFC. The structural
system for the Tower utilize local materials and
labor expertise related to reinforced concrete,
traditionally preferred for buildings in Shanghai.
Reinforced concrete is strategically placed to
utilize its excellent compression characteristics
while structural steel is used for extreme tension
Loads in the Tower are optimally controlled to
distribute forces correctly and efficiently.

Optimizing form and function was paramount to the design, integrating the
structure, mechanical systems, and exterior envelope in a modular system that
repeats every 13 floors to facilitate the fabrication and installation of components,
and, in turn, reduce construction time, material waste, and structural inefficiencies.
The purity of the tower’s design belies the inherent complexity of the various building
systems within, and is readily adaptable to the changing programmatic
requirements that often arise during the long timeline of such a large project, as well
as to the changing needs of building users.
The supporting structure of the skyscraper consists of a central reinforced concrete
core and a massive framework of steel columns and girders.
The structural solution to the Shanghai World
financial Center illustrates that even with
moderately high strength concrete
compressive strengths, reinforced concrete
is an effective solution to ultra tall structures.
The advantages of concrete pumping
technologies related to pumping volumes
and pumping heights and advanced self-
climbing forming systems have made
concrete a strong competitor to structural
steel when considering the construction of
such towers. Reinforced concrete provides
excellent structural behavior characteristics
when subjects to extreme wind loadings.
The inherent, passive structural
characteristics of reinforced concrete
provides excellent dynamic properties,
reducing building accelerations, and
therefore minimizing occupant perception.

The project’s structural engineer developed a new system, employing composite

megacolumns, diagonal mega-braces, steel outriggers, belt trusses, and core wall
trusses, the pile loads were redistributed to accept increased lateral loads from wind
and earthquake. The stiffness of the lateral force-resisting system of the perimeter wall
was increased, and as such, the original design for the perimeter framing was
abandoned in favor of a diagonal-braced frame with added outrigger trusses
coupled to the columns of the mega-structure. This enabled the weight of the
building to be reduced by more than 10% and resulted in a reduced cost for the
structure, provided for speedier construction, and significantly reduced the material
that went into the building, making it even more environmentally friendly.
QUESTION: Draw sketches and explain the various types of floor systems
for tall buildings. Also explain the floor system of the case study

The floor system carries the gravity loads during and after construction. It should be
able to accommodate the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, and
have built in fire resistance properties. These could be classified as two-way
systems, one-way systems and beam and slab systems. Two -way systems include
flat plates supported by columns, flat slabs supported by columns with capitals or
drop panels. Large shears and moments will be carried by the latter. Slabs of
constant thickness are also used. Slabs with waffles are also used. Two-way joists
are also used. One-way systems include following -slabs of constant thickness, with
spans of 3m to 8m. Closely spaced joists could also be used. Beam and slab
systems use beams spaced of 1m to 4m.Lattice floor joists and girders are useful to
have ductwork inside of them.

The various types of flooring systems in tall buildings are

• Concrete
• Steel
• Composite
• Pre-cast concrete

Concrete Floor Systems

In concrete floor systems, slabs of uniform thickness are often used with spans of 3m
to 8m.
Concrete slab floor systems are the most flexible floor systems as it provides the
designer with the freedom in floor plan designs. These systems include: one-way
slab and beam, two-way slab and beam, ribbed slab, flat slab, flat slab with drop
panel, flat slab with column capitals, slab with slab band, waffle slab, and waffle
slab with drops. Cast-in-place concrete slab can be the shallowest floor system
when posttensioning is applied as it allows a span to depth ratio of up to 45 for
two-way slab systems, which results in a 8” thick slab for a typical bay of 30 ft x 30 ft
compared to a 12” thick slab for the same bay when no post-tensioning is used. In
addition to these advantages, post-tensioned cast-in-place concrete slabs provide
a clean flat soffit that is suitable for residential applications.
Steel Floor Systems
In steel floor systems, we use reinforced concrete slabs on steel beams. Thickness of
slabs is in the range of L/30 to L/15 of the span. Pre-cast concrete slabs are also
used with some shear connectors, grouted. Spans vary from 1.2m to 9m. Concrete
slabs on metal decking are often used, with shear connection. For steel beams,
wide flange shapes are used. Welded plate girders, latticed girders, and vierendeel
girders are also used, which house ducts. Castellated beams and stub girders,
developed by Colaco (1970), are also used, which allow mechanical ductwork to
be placed between short stubs, welded on top of these girders. The stub lengths are
1.5m to 2m long. Stub girders are of composite construction.

An advantage achieved with steel floor systems, is greater spans resulting in fewer
columns required for support, and in turn fewer footings reducing overall costs.

The steel flooring is an attractive solution for commercial applications. Open web
steel joists are light weight and easy to install. A 28 in.-32” deep open web steel joist
is typically used for 32 ft span with 4 – 6 ft spacing. Metal decking is generally used
to form a 2”-4” thick composite slab. The utilities can pass through the joist openings,
saving the height needed for the utilities. However, as steel prices continue to climb,
these systems become less attractive. Also, a false ceiling is required to cover the
unattractive framing system, resulting in a large total floor height.

The span of a joist girder shall not exceed 24 times its depth. Joist girders have been
designed to allow for a growing need for deeper/longer spans with primary
structural members (depths of 20" to 120" and span lengths to 120 feet).
Composite Floor Systems
A structural member composed of two or more dissimilar materials joined together
to act as a unit.
• Create a thin highly effective composite floor capable of spans up to 11m.
• Provide a superior fast track solution to the construction industry.
• Allows maximum architectural design freedom
• Easy to install using only 7 components

Pre Cast Concrete Floor Systems

Precast concrete systems combine structural and architectural components to
create long-lasting buildings and structures. From high-rise office buildings to
landmark bridges, parking structures to correctional facilities, stadiums to schools—
even in high seismic zones—precast concrete can achieve safe, beautiful, and
durable results.
Precast concrete floor systems can be made of a wide range of precast concrete
products, such as hollow core slabs, solid slabs, double trees, and inverted
tee/rectangular/L-shaped beams. These products can be also used in conjunction
with steel beam and cast-in-place concrete topping in some applications to satisfy
design requirements.
A conventional precast concrete floor system utilizes hollow core slabs supported by
precast/pre-stressed concrete inverted tee beams which are in turn supported on
column corbels or wall ledges. It provides an economical and fire-resistant floor
system with excellent deflection and vibration characteristics for both residential
and commercial applications. The top surface can be prepared for installation of a
floor covering by placing thin non-structural cementations leveling topping, or a
composite 2-3” concrete composite topping (Precast/Prestressed Concrete
Institute, 1998).
The supporting structure of the Shanghai World Financial Center consists of a
central reinforced concrete core and a massive framework of steel columns and
It incorporates the steel floor systems which is a reinforced concrete slab supported
on steel girders which is finally supported on a central reinforced concrete core.

QUESTION: Explain in detail with the help of sketches the various types
of façade technologies, with respect to materials, fabrication,
installation, in the case study example.
Façade systems comprise the structural elements that provide lateral and vertical
resistance to wind and other actions, and the building envelope elements that
provide the weather resistance and thermal, acoustic and fire resisting properties.
The types of façade system that are used depends on the type and scale of the
building and on local planning requirements that may affect the building’s
appearance in relation to its neighbors.
The building façade is required to perform a thermal insulating function which is
becoming increasingly onerous under the pressure to reduce energy consumption and
CO2 emissions. The building envelope also provides acoustic separation between the
external and internal environments. In general, a building envelope constructed of
more massive elements (e.g. masonry or pre-cast concrete) provides
better acoustic separation.

The building façade provides the separation between the inside and the outside
environments but is also required to provide acceptable light levels and a visual
connection with the outside in the form of views out of the building. The façade may
also be required to provide the building user with openable windows for ventilation.
The separating functions include:
• Weather tightness including elimination of water ingress and control of air
permeability and resistance to wind actions.
• Insulation (both thermal and acoustic).
• Control of solar gain and ultraviolet radiation and the management of views into the
• The building façade also provides the owner and the architect with a canvas on
which to create an image representing the owner’s business, ideals or outlook.


A wide variety of façade systems may be used in modern multi-storey buildings, which

• Brickwork and stonework

• Curtain walling
• Precast concrete panels with
various types of finishes
• Insulated render
• Metallic cladding
• Tiles and stone veneer panels
• Large boards consisting of an
aesthetic and weather tight
• Glass and steel façade
The Shanghai World Financial Center used the following properties and their
various consultants are as follows:

• Structural material: Composite structure

• Façade material: Glass
• Façade system: Curtain wall
• Façade color: Light blue
• Façade: ALT Limited; Permasteelisa Group
• Cladding: HALFEN

The façade of the building, its structure and its mechanical systems are seamlessly
integrated and arranged in modules that are repeated every 13 floors, which has
greatly facilitated the manufacture and installation of the relevant components
and so cut construction times, wastage of materials and structural inefficiencies. Its
most distinctive feature is the roughly 50-metre wide portal created in the topmost
floors, which helps reduce the stresses of wind pressure acting on the building at its

Glass is the dominating material in modern day architecture which places optical
emphases and provides for numerous technical functions. Today, the glass industry
offers glazing with individual technical features that can be used for heat, solar, or
sound protection, as design components, safety glass, or as a part of solar
systems. The main focus in building is usually on saving energy, especially in these
challenging times of increasing prices for energy and raw materials. The strong
differentiation between the technical functions in turn makes individual
consultation even more important. Glass is preferred as a building material as it
reduces the overall weight of the building and is easy to complete.

“Glass for the facade means visual lightness, elegance and contemporary feel
and ensures plenty of natural light. While building designers are using larger and
larger areas of glass in facades, though this does not exactly promote energy
efficiency, they are trying to build it as sustainably as possible,” is the say of many
architects world wide.
Curtain walling is the generic name given to metallic lightweight cladding or glazed
cladding systems that are directly supported by a structural frame. In some cases, a
stone veneer or large tiled fascia may be attached to give the appearance of a more
monolithic cladding system.
Curtain wall systems are an assembly of factory-made components which are either
made up into panels in the factory and the interlocking units brought to site and
installed (unitized curtain walling) or brought to site as components and assembled on
the building (stick curtain walling). Stick curtain walling is more often used on low-rise
buildings and in relatively small areas because external access is required to the
building elevations, e.g. from scaffolding or wall-climbing work platforms. Unitised
curtain walling can be designed to be installed without using the main crane and this
method is favored on high-rise buildings.

The vast majority of curtain walls are installed long pieces (referred to as sticks)
between floors vertically and between vertical members horizontally.
Very similar to a Stick system a ladder system has mullions which can be split and then
either clipped, or screwed together consisting of a half box and plate, this allows
sections of curtain wall to be fabricated in shop effectively reducing the time spent
installing the system on site. The drawback of using such a system is reduced structural
performance and visible joint lines down the length of each mullion.
Unitized curtain walls entail factory fabrication and assembly of panels and may
include factory glazing. These completed units are hung on the building structure to
form the building enclosure. Unitized curtain wall has the advantages of: speed; lower
field installation costs; and quality control within an interior climate controlled
A common feature in curtain wall technology, the rainscreen principle theorizes that
equilibrium of air pressure between the outside and inside of the "rainscreen" prevents
water penetration into the building itself. The glazing rebate is ventilated to the exterior
so that the pressure on the inner and outer sides of the exterior gasket is the same.
When the pressure is equal across this gasket water cannot be drawn through joints or
defects in the gasket.