What Are the Metal Stars on the Side of Buildings For?

Ever seen a building with a giant metal star on the side? Ever wonder what that’s for? Well I’ve got your answer.

Building Stars_3On many buildings today, when you see a giant star on the side (see photo), it’s simply cosmetic. People think it makes a building look pretty.

Sometimes though, they do serve a purpose. You can often find them on older brick buildings. That star is actually the end of an incredibly long, threaded rod that goes through the entire building. The threaded rod keeps the building from falling apart.

The stars weren’t put on buildings when they were made, but were put on later when owners noticed that the brick and mortar joints started cracking. Without being fixed, a building could actually split in half and crumble. This is a very common problem with brick structures.Building Stars_1

The bigger the star that you see on the side of a building, the bigger the problem that the building has. Those stars have saved a lot of buildings from splitting in two and collapsing.

How to tell a cosmetic star from a functional one?

Like I said, the threaded rod is screwed right through the entire middle of a building. So if you see a second star on the exact opposite side of the building, chances are that the stars are functional. If there isn’t a star on the opposite side of the building, it’s probably cosmetic.


What Are the Metal Stars on the Side of Buildings For? — 6 Comments

  1. That is extremely interesting. I’ve never seen anything like that around here, but after this will look for them.

    How much does it cost to install something like that, by way of keeping the building from falling down around your ears?

    Related to the whole idea of brick buildings cracking apart (like, ahem, a certain house one of us lives in), here’s a possible post idea: Is there anything to be concerned about when you hear a LOT of (fairly loud) settling noises in a masonry structure?

    My old house, whose floor plan was identical to the shack I’m living in now, never made a lot of settling noises. This one sounds like the joists are splitting apart, especially late at night after the usual city noises have quieted down. Admittedly, the first house was adjacent to a war zone, where the racket never fully quieted, and this house is in the quietest part of the development. But still…i think i would’ve noticed if the other house was settling quite this spectacularly. Is it anything to worry about? Both houses were built in the early 70s.
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