Crystal Palace as the State of the Art of Manufacture
The Crystal Palace was designed, manufactured and assembled in less than one year. This feat was made possible by manufacturing technology that is still considered state of the art. The building is an integrated system or kit of parts, where each part serves multiple functions. The columns support the girders and act as downspouts for the gutters. The Paxton gutters shed rain water and support the roof gables. The glass roof panels are both building enclosure and lighting system. Each part is machine manufactured by skilled labor under controlled conditions that insure accuracy and high quality. Once a machine or technique is devised to make a specific part, the part can be made very quickly and in large quantity. Parts were delivered to the site and erected as quickly as they were manufactured. The small size and light weight of each part made is easy. Each structural bay is self supporting so the 2,000 unskilled workers could assemble parts without waiting for whole systems to be in place. In contrast, other buildings of the time were made of stone and required years to construct. The stone was cut from quarries and transported at great expense to the building site, where skilled masons custom fit one block to another.