Fire-Resistant Buildings in Rio de Janeiro.
Judging from the report of Consul-General George E. Anderson, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where there are nearly 1,000,000 inhabitants, there should not be much danger of a conflagration within its limits. Nearly all the business houses are 2-story, a few are 4-storry, still fewer 5-story, and the only two above five stories are those of two newspapers—one, 7-story, the other, 9-story —the latter being the only building in the city built upon a steel frame, and involving more or less of what is generally Known as “sky-scraper” construction. This general use of low buildings is not due to fear of earthquakes or to buildim regulations, but to the conservatism of Brazilian business men, largely foreign in connections and experience, and to local building conditions. Buildings in Rio de Janeiro, as the representative city of Brazil, so far have consisted almost altogether of stone and of brick plastered over to represent stone. Owing to the climate, none other than damp-resisting materials can be used. Wood has been out of the question, owing to ravages of white ants and other insects. The use of stone for substantial buildings has been common on account of necessity and cheapness. The surrounding hills are composed of granite of fair building quality. The alternative has been soft brick overlaid with a cement preparation. Low buildings lack the accustomed “show fronts” of American buildings in cities and do not require steel. For strength and economy general and principal partitions are built from the ground up, affording little room for steel-lath or anything of the sort. With stone reasonable in price, there is no material economy in the use of concrete blocks. Unless, therefore, there is need of buildings upon the modern principle^ such as are common in American cities, there is little use for structural steel. Further development of the city may, of course, lead to changed building conditions and the use of more metal in construction.