According to Score and Cohen in “Twentieth Century Building Materials,”
“Stainless steel comprises a diverse group of metal alloys containing iron and at least 11% chromium. Chromium allows the alloy to form a tight film of iron-chromium oxide that resists corrosion and chemical attack. Stainless steels fall into four classifications: 1) martensitic stainless steels — iron-chromium alloys hardened by heat treatment, 2) ferritic stainless steels — iron-chromium alloys that cannot be hardened by heat treating, 3) austenitic stainless steels — iron-chromium-nickel and iron-chromium-nickel-manganese alloys that are hardened only by cold working, and 4) precipitation-hardening stainless steels — iron-chromium-nickel alloys.
Two influential early projects that incorporated stainless steel were the Chrysler Building (1930, William Van Alen) and the Empire State Building (1931, Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon).”
- Score, Robert and Irene J. Cohen. “Stainless Steel.” In Twentieth Century Building Materials, edited by Thomas C. Jester, 64-71. New York: McGraw-Hill Co., 1995.