Pros and Cons of Arched Style Building

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April 1, 2017
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Pros and Cons of Arched Style Building

Within steel construction for buildings, there are two common design formats: Rigid frame (or “straight wall”) and arch style, also affectionately referred to as Quonset huts. At Wasatch Steel, we’re a supplier of the products and solutions you’ll need for both these styles.

Where did the term “Quonset huts” come from, and what are some of the pros and cons of this arched building style? Here are the basics.

Term and Style Origins

During World War II, buildings that had previously been used for storage in the oil industry were converted into military storage buildings. These buildings used arched style steel construction, and because they were produced in Quonset Point near North Kingstown, Rhode Island, the structures became known as Quonset huts.

In effect, a Quonset hut is a prefabricated metal structure made of corrugated steel, with a semicircular cross section. It requires self-supporting lengths of steel, typically connected in a semi-circular shape. Quonset huts are durable, efficiently built structures that offer a lot of usable floor space, plus column-free design that allows flexibility.


There are several pros of Quonset hut building styles:

  • Efficient build: Building through arch style is very efficient, with little waste and plenty of flexibility for various sub-styles. It’s perfect for storage, retail shops and small warehouses.
  • Clear span: Quonset huts offer clear spans up to 80 feet – this means they aren’t ideal for multi-story buildings, but they’re less of a hassle to erect than larger, straight wall buildings.
  • Price: There may be small hidden costs associated with arched style, including insulation, but even when factoring this in, Quonset huts are generally a cheaper style than straight wall buildings.


  • Durability: In general, rigid frame buildings are more durable than arch style buildings. Arch style doesn’t resist wind and heavy elements quite as well, even with modified modern versions with straight walls.
  • Value: Due to rounded construction, arch-style buildings offer less usable square footage. Roof curvature reduces headspace, and therefore storage space.
  • Versatility: While 80 feet of clear span is a good amount, rigid frame structures offer up to 300 feet of clear span space, and a fully column-free interior.

Want to learn more about steel building styles, or interested in any of our other steel services? Speak to the experts at Wasatch Steel today.