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Nonbearing wall of glass, metal, or masonry attached to a building's exterior structural frame. After World War II, low energy costs gave impetus to the concept of the tall building as a glass prism, an idea originally put forth by Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in their visionary projects of the 1920s. The UN's Secretariat Building (1949), with its green-tinted glass walls, helped set a worldwide standard for skyscrapers.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on curtain wall, visit Britannica.com.