Programs & Events

Judith Dupré Book Talk

April 29, 2014 6:30PM-8PM

SKYSCRAPERS:A HISTORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST EXTRAORDINARY BUILDINGS

Fourth Edition(Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers; November 2013)

Dupre

Skyscrapers captivate the eye, excite the imagination, and inspire awe and reverence. Wonders of artistic creativity and engineering ingenuity, of hard work and playful dreaming, skyscrapers embody the best of our practical achievements and reflect our highest aspirations. Judith Dupré’s Skyscrapers invites you to enjoy the stunning works born of that quest, introducing readers to the world’s most remarkable and beloved buildings while also exploring both the ancient roots of skyscrapers and visionary cities of the future.

This is a revised and updated version of Dupre’s popular skyscraper survey, first published in 1996.

A graduate of Brown and Yale Universities, Judith Dupré is the author of several acclaimed books about architecture, including Bridges (BD&L), New York Times bestselling Churches and Monuments.

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May Joseph Book Talk

March 11, 2014 6:30PM-8PM

FLUID NEW YORK: COSMOPOLITAN URBANISM AND THE GREEN IMAGINATION

(Duke University Press Books; July 2013)

 

Hurricane Sandy was a fierce demonstration of the ecological vulnerability of New York, a city of islands. Yet the storm also revealed the resilience of a metropolis that has started during the past decade to reckon with its aqueous topography. In Fluid New YorkMay Joseph describes the many ways that the city and its citizens have begun to incorporate the urban archipelago ecology into plans for a livable and sustainable future.

May Joseph’s reflections reach back to the city’s heyday as a world-class port—a past embodied in a Dutch East India Company cannon recently unearthed from the rubble at the World Trade Center site. They also encompass the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and suggest that the city’s future lies in the reclamation of its great water resources—for artistic creativity, civic engagement, and ecological sustainability.… Read the rest

Alexandros Washburn Book Talk

February 18, 2014 6:30PM-8PM

THE NATURE OF URBAN DESIGN: A NEW YORK PERSPECTIVE ON RESILIENCE

(Island Press; May 2013)

In his visually rich book A Country of CitiesAlexandros Washburn argues that the best cities become an ingrained part of their residents’ identities and that the strength of our communities will determine how we respond to crises like Hurricane Sandy, whose floodwaters he watched from his home in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Urban design is the key to this process, but all too often, citizens abandon it to professionals, unable to see a way to express what they love and value in their own neighborhoods. His book strives to empower urbanites and offer a new approach to design that will help cities to prosper in an uncertain future.

Alexandros Washburn is the Chief Urban Designer of the New York City Department of City Planning and former Public Works Advisor and chief architect for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.… Read the rest

Vishaan Chakrabarti Book Talk

January 28, 2014 6:30PM-8PM

A COUNTRY OF CITIES: A MANIFESTO FOR AN URBAN AMERICA

(Metropolis Books; May 2013)

 

In A Country of CitiesVishaan Chakrabarti argues that well-designed cities are the key to solving America’s great national challenges: environmental degradation, unsustainable consumption, economic stagnation, rising public health costs and decreased social mobility. If we develop them wisely in the future, our cities can be the force leading us into a new era of progressive and prosperous stewardship of our nation. Through clear, accessible prose and a distinct visual language of original illustrations created by SHoP Architects, Chakrabarti delivers a wealth of information about cities, suburbs and exurbs, looking at how they developed across the 50 states and their roles in prosperity and globalization, sustainability and resilience, and heath and joy.

Vishaan Chakrabarti, AIA, is the director of Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE).… Read the rest

SKY HIGH & the logic of luxury: Curator’s Tour

January 8, 2014 3:00PM

Director and Curator Carol Willis will lead a tour of the current exhibit SKY HIGH & the logic of luxury.… Read the rest

Constance Rosenblum Book Talk

January 14, 2014 6:30PM-8PM

HABITATS: PRIVATE LIVES IN THE BIG CITY

(New York University Press; March 2013)

There may be eight million stories in the Naked City, but there are also nearly three million dwelling places, ranging from Park Avenue palaces to Dickensian garrets and encompassing much in between. The doorways to these residences are tantalizing portals opening onto largely invisible lives.Habitats offers 40 vivid and intimate stories about how New Yorkers really live in their brownstones, their apartments, their mansions, their lofts, and as a whole presents a rich, multi-textured portrait of what it means to make a home in the world’s most varied and powerful city.

Constance Rosenblum, most recently author of the Habitats column published in the Real Estate section The New York Times, was the longtime editor of Times’s City section and a former editor of the paper’s Arts and Leisure section.… Read the rest

Phyllis Lambert Book Talk

December 10, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

BUILDING SEAGRAM

(Yale University Press; April 2013)

Phyllis Lambert will present her new book Building Seagram, published by Yale University Press. The presentation will be followed by a conversation with Museum Director Carol Willis.

The Seagram building rises over New York’s Park Avenue, seeming to float above the street with perfect lines of bronze and glass. Considered one of the greatest icons of twentieth-century architecture, the building was commissioned by Samuel Bronfman, founder of the Canadian distillery dynasty Seagram. Bronfman’s daughter Phyllis Lambert was twenty-seven years old when she took over the search for an architect and chose Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), a pioneering modern master of what he termed “skin and bones” architecture.

Building Seagram is a comprehensive personal and scholarly history of a major building and its architectural, cultural, and urban legacies. Lambert makes use of previously unpublished personal archives, company correspondence, and photographs to tell an insider’s view of the debates, resolutions, and unknown dramas of the building’s construction, as well as its crucial role in the history of modern art and architectural culture.… Read the rest

Matthew Gordon Lasner Book Talk

October 29, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

HIGH LIFE: CONDO LIVING IN THE SUBURBAN CENTURY

(Yale University Press; October 2012)

 

9780300164084Today, one in five homeowners in American cities and suburbs lives in a multifamily home rather than a single-family dwelling. As the American dream evolves, precipitated by declining real estate prices and a renewed interest in city living, many predict that condos will become the predominant form of housing in the 21st century. In this unprecedented study Matthew Gordon Lasner explores the history of co-owned multifamily housing in the United States, from New York City’s first co-op, in 1881, to contemporary condo and townhouse complexes coast to coast. Lasner explains the complicated social, economic, and political factors that have increased demand for this way of living, situating the trend within the larger housing market and broad shifts in residential architecture. He contrasts the prevalence and popularity of condos, townhouses, and other privately governed communities with their ambiguous economic, legal, and social standing, as well as their striking absence from urban and architectural history.

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Erica Stoller Book Talk

July 24, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

LOOKING TWICE: UNDERSTANDING URBAN CONSTRUCTION THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHS

(Yale University Press; December 2012)

 

stoller

Ezra Stoller’s iconic photographs of 20th-century architectural masterpieces, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, are often cited in aiding the rise of modernism in America. Stoller (1915–2004) elevated architectural photography to an art form, capturing the mood of numerous buildings in their best light.

Erica Stoller is director of Esto, the photographic agency founded by Ezra Stoller. She is the co-author with Nina Rappaport of Ezra Stoller, Photographer. … Read the rest

9/11 Gallery Talk

On the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, director and curator Carol Willis gave a gallery talk in the World Trade Center permanent exhibitions.… Read the rest

Urban Fabric 2 Curator’s Tour

September 5 and 12, 2013 3:00pm
1411 Broadway, corner of 40th St.

Director and Curator Carol Willis will conduct a tour of the current exhibit Urban Fabric 2. This event is free and open to the public.… Read the rest

Curator’s Tours: August 21, and September 4 at 3PM

August 21, and September 4: 3PM

Museum Director and Curator Carol Willis lead a gallery tour of the exhibit “Woolworth @ 100”… Read the rest

Marguerite Holloway Book Talk

July 24, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

THE MEASURE OF MANHATTAN: THE TUMULTUOUS CAREER AND SURPRISING LEGACY OF JOHN RANDEL, JR., CARTOGRAPHER, SURVEYOR, INVENTOR

(W. W. Norton & Company; February 2013)

 

John Randel Jr. (1787-1865) was an eccentric and flamboyant 19th-century surveyor who plotted Manhattan’s famous defining grid, the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan. Unearthing Randel’s engrossing and dramatic life story for the first time, Marguerite Holloway’s eye-opening biography resurrects this unheralded pioneer of American engineering and mapmaking. The Measure of Manhattanilluminates the ways in which surveying and cartography change the ground beneath our feet. Bringing Randel’s story into the present, Holloway travels with contemporary surveyors and scientists trying to envision Manhattan as a wild island once again.

Marguerite Holloway, the director of Science and Environmental Journalism at Columbia University, has written for Scientific American, Discover, the New York Times, Natural History, and Wired

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Woolworth Building @ 100: Curator’s Tour

July 10, 2013 3:00PM

Director and Curator Carol Willis conducted a tour of the current exhibit The Woolworth Building @ 100.… Read the rest

David Anderson Book Talk

June 26, 2013 6:30PM-8PM
ON WALL STREET: ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF LOWER MANHATTAN, 1980-2000
(George F. Thompson Publishing; January 2013)

 

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, as big glass and steel boxes rose across the city, photographer David Anderson dedicated himself to a project to document Wall Street’s classic architecture. Avoiding the focus on people, traffic, and street life, he concentrates attention on architectural details or certain profiles to reveal built form, energy, and a larger sense of place within the city’s urban fabric.

Architectural historian Gail Fenske observes:“David Anderson’s poignant photographs capture the coldness, power, and impregnability of the mythical Wall Street. Devoid of the flux of street movement and crowds, the monuments speak. Creatures keep watch, frozen in stone, while surprising traces of decay and delicate detail suggest the contingency, even frailty, of human existence. Paul Goldberger’s masterful introduction guides us as well in seeing and appreciating this historic citadel of American finance.”

David Anderson is an architectural photographer who was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska.… Read the rest

Medieval or Modern?

WOOLWORTH BUILDING CENTENNIAL
June 14, 2013 1PM-5PM

 

In conjunction with the current exhibition The Woolworth Building @ 100, the Skyscraper Museum presented an afternoon of illustrated talks, inquiry, and dialogue inspired by the centennial of New York Citys great Gothic tower, The Cathedral of Commerce.

Our distinguished speakers included Mary Beth Betts, Gail Fenske, Joanna Merwood-Salibury, Kevin Murphy, Dietrich Neumann, Suzanne Stephens, and Mary Woods.

The program was held in the rear lobby arcade of the Woolworth Building.

The program was presented with the generous support of
ELISE JAFFE + JEFFREY BROWN.

The Skyscraper Museum offered 2.5 CEUs for AIA Members for this program.

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Donald Friedman Book Talk

May 15, 2013 6:30PM-8PM
THE WOOLWORTH BUILDING: ENGINEERING HEIGHT

Plan of the Woolworth Building Foundation Wind-bracing Diagram. Reproduced from American Architect, 103, March 26, 1913.

Plan of the Woolworth Building Foundation Wind-bracing Diagram. Reproduced from American Architect, 103, March 26, 1913.

Completed in 1913, the 792-foot Woolworth Building doubled the height of the tallest skyscraper of 1900, the neighboring Park Row Building, and surpassed the 1908 Singer Building by 180 feet. The rapid rise in height, from Park Row, to Singer, to the 700-foot Metropolitan Life Tower in 1909, reflects the arrival of mature steel-frame technology.

Gunvald Aus, the chief engineer of the Woolworth Building, was one of a group of turn-of-the-century structural engineers who were designing ever-larger steel-frame buildings and openly debating the best engineering methods for high-rise design and construction. At a time when the building codes and engineering education was still catching up to the reality of skyscrapers, this professional debate on the proper methods of dealing with foundations, wind loads, and supporting masonry curtain walls served as a method of technology transfer that allowed engineers who had not previously designed tall steel-frame buildings to understand key issues.… Read the rest

Gail Fenske

THE WOOLWORTH BUILDING: HIGHEST IN THE WORLD

May 7, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

 

On July 1st, 1912, structural ironworkers topped off the Woolworth Building’s steel frame with an American flag and New Yorkers celebrated the “Highest in the World.” Yet the project had started out as a mere 20-story office building. Only after Frank W. Woolworth’s disjointed process of parcel acquisition and Cass Gilbert’s erratic, protracted sequence of design did the Woolworth Building’s spectacular 792-foot high tower rise to command its surroundings.

And while both Gilbert and Woolworth participated in the day’s obsession with big spatial ideas, Gilbert had romantically aspired to build the world’s tallest tower and Woolworth simply to erect a “giant signboard” to advertise his chain of stores around the world. How did Gilbert and Woolworth negotiate such aims with the realities of the marketplace to construct what the New York Times called “The Worlds Greatest Skyscraper”?… Read the rest

Gail Fenske

THE WOOLWORTH BUILDING: THE MAKING OF A NEW YORK LANDMARK

April 22, 2013 6PM-8PM

Gail Fenske lecture and reception at the Center for Architecture

 

This event, co-sponsored by The Woolworth Centennial Celebration Committee, the AIA New York Chapter Historic Buildings Committe, and The Skyscraper Museum, was held at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, New York.

When the Woolworth Building was completed in 1913, critics hailed Cass Gilberts design as a spectacular feat of engineering and wondrous Gothic tower. The highest skyscraper in the world, it secured the emblematic status of New Yorks skyline as a city of towers. But the Woolworth Buildings fame as a landmark belies the differing aims of its architect, client, and builder, each of whom had a unique relationship to the city. How did Gilbert reconcile his vision for the Woolworth Building with that of his client, F.… Read the rest

Aurora Wallace

 MEDIA CAPITAL: ARCHITECTURE AND COMMUNICATIONS IN NEW YORK CITY

April 15, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

(University of Illinois Press; October 2012)

 

With a unique focus on corporate headquarters as embodiments of the values of the press and as signposts for understanding media culture, Media Capital demonstrates the mutually supporting relationship between the media and urban space. Aurora Wallace considers how architecture contributed to the power of the press, the nature of the reading public, the commercialization of media, and corporate branding in the media industry. Tracing the rise and concentration of the media industry in New York City from the mid-nineteenth century to the presentincluding the great skyscraper headquarters of Newspaper Row and Times SquareWallace analyzes physical and discursive space, as well as labor, technology, and aesthetics, to understand the entwined development of the mass media and late capitalism.

Aurora Wallace is a professor in the department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University and the author of Newspapers and the Making of Modern America.… Read the rest

Christoph Ingenhoven Lecture

WHY I LOVE SKYSCRAPERS

April 10, 2013 6:30PM-8PM


The Skyscraper Museum continues its WHATS UP? series on international skyscraper design and development.

This lecture will be held in the auditorium of the National Museum of the American Indian, Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, 1 Bowling Green

 

1 Bligh Street. Image credit: H.G. Esch.

Christoph Ingenhoven is the founding principal of ingenhoven architects, a Dusseldorf-based firm with an increasingly international practice. His assertively modernist work emphasizes ecological principles in combination with innovative engineering and close attention to the public realm. In 2012, his sleek, sustainable, and elegant design for 1 Bligh Street in Sydney, Australia (withArchitectus) won the International High-Rise Award of the DAM, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, the Best Tall Building in Asia & Australasia Award of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, as well as numerous other prizes.… Read the rest

Society of Architectural Historians Study Program

STUDY DAY AT THE SKYSCRAPER MUSEUM: “WOOLWORTH BUILDING @ 100”

March 22, 2013 10:00AM-5:30PM

Join the Society of Architectural Historians at the The Skyscraper Museums exhibition, Woolworth Building @ 100, on March 22, 2013. SAH will be presenting a customized study day that will offer participants an opportunity for an in-depth look at the exhibition with the curators Gail Fenske, Susan Tunick, and Carol Willis along with a tour of Cass Gilberts buildings in lower Manhattan led by Andrew Dolkart and Gail Fenske, featuring the United States Custom House, the West Street Building, and the Broadway-Chambers Building, concluding with a visit to the Woolworth Building.

The exhibition features original design drawings by Cass Gilbert and his office staff, along with original documents, photographs, and artifacts. The original drawings will be available only for a limited time. The study day will end with a tour of the Woolworth Building, which will include a visit of a typical office space and view what remains of the designs European-inspired interiors.… Read the rest

Alexander Garvin

THE PLANNING GAME: LESSONS FROM GREAT CITIES

March 19, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

(W.W. Norton & Company; March 2013)

 

The Planning Game: Lessons from Great Cities provides a focused, thorough, and sophisticated overview of how planning works. Generously illustrated with 200 colorful photographs, diagrams, and maps, the book presents the public-realm approach to planningemphasizing the importance of public investments in streets, squares, parks, infrastructure, and public buildings. The book examines planning at every level, explaining the activities necessary to successfully transform a community. The Lessons from Great Cities draw on four historical examples and their colorful motive forces: Paris (Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann), New York (Robert Moses), Chicago (Daniel Burnham), and Philadelphia (Edmund Bacon).

Alexander Garvin is a noted architect and urban planner. He is an adjunct professor of urban planning and management at Yale University. He heads a planning and design firm and lives in New York.… Read the rest

Elihu Rubin

INSURING THE CITY: THE PRUDENTIAL CENTER AND THE POSTWAR URBAN LANDSCAPE

March 7, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

(Yale University; June 2012)

 

One of the most significant urban developments of the 1950s and 60s, the Prudential Center anchors the Boston skyline with its tall gray tower. It is also a historical beacon, representing a midcentury moment when insurance companies like Prudential paid particular attention to how their physical presence and civic engagement reflected on their intangible product: financial security.

For Prudential executives, the construction of a new complex of buildings was not only a way to house the companys regional headquarters, but was also an investment in central Boson at a pivotal time in the citys history. To carry out its ambitious project, the private insurance company succeeded in establishing itself as a quasi-public entity, permitted by city planners to use real estate development as a means of fighting urban blight.… Read the rest

Mary Anne Hunting

EDWARD DURELL STONE: MODERNISM’S POPULIST ARCHITECT

February 5, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

(W. W. Norton & Co; November 2012)

Colossus, visionary, giant are terms used to describe Edward Durell Stone (19021978), the mid-twentieth century celebrity architect whose popular aesthetic of new romanticism played a role in defining postwar American modernism. Architectural historian Mary Anne Hunting will discuss the recent interest in Stones architecture, which has been spurred by the reconsideration of a number of his buildingsespecially the controversial conversion of his most flamboyant New York building, former Gallery of Modern Art (195864) at 2 Columbus Circle.

Stone’s skyscrapers included commissions for New York’s 50-story General Motors Building (1963-58) and the 83-story Standard Oil Building (1970-1974) in Chicago. Mary Anne Hunting will discuss Stones work, placing his aspirations of giving form to the aspirations of an emerging consumer culture.

Mary Anne Hunting received her doctorate from the City University of New Yorks Graduate Center and a masters degree in the history of decorative arts and design from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum/Parsons School of Design.… Read the rest

Kurt Schlichting

GRAND CENTRAL’S ENGINEER: WILLIAM J. WILGUS  AND THE PLANNING OF MODERN MANHATTAN

January 14, 2013 6:30PM-8PM

(Johns Hopkins University Press; March 2012)

 

In the centennial year of New York’s great Grand Central Terminal, we celebrate the chief engineer of the New York Central Railroad, William J. Wilgus. Few people have had as profound an impact on the history of New York City. Prof. Kurt C. Schlichting will discuss the remarkable career of this innovator, revealing how his tireless work moving people and goods over and under Manhattan Island and its surrounding waterways forever changed New Yorks bustling transportation system. After his herculean efforts on behalf of Grand Central, the most complicated construction project in New Yorks history, Wilgus turned to solving the citys transportation quandary: Manhattanthe financial, commercial, and cultural hub of the United States in the twentieth centurywas separated from the mainland by two major rivers to the west and east, a deep-water estuary to the south, and the Harlem River to the north.… Read the rest

Regina Lee Blaszczyk

JANUARY 8, 2013 6:30pm-8pm

THE COLOR REVOLUTION

(The MIT Press; August 2012)

 

When the fashion industry declares that lime green is the new black, or instructs us to think pink!, it is not the result of a backroom deal forged by a secretive cabal of fashion journalists, designers, manufacturers, and the editor of Vogue. It is the latest development of a color revolution that have been unfolding for more than a century. In this book, the award-winning historian Reggie Blaszczyk traces the relationship of color and commerce, from haute couture to automobile showrooms to interior design, describing the often unrecognized role of the color profession in consumer culture.

In The Color Revolution, Blaszczyk examines the evolution of the color profession from 1850 to 1970, telling the stories of innovators who managed the color cornucopia that modern artificial dyes and pigments made possible.… Read the rest

Rebecca Kobrin & Andrew Dolkart

CHOSEN CAPITAL: THE JEWISH ENCOUNTER WITH AMERICAN CAPITALISM

December 5, 2012, 6:30PM-8PM

Edited by Prof. Rebecca Kobrin of Columbia University, the collection of essays in Chosen Capital examines the impact of Jewish immigrants and residents on American capitalism as both its architectsthrough their participation in specific industriesand as its most vocal critics through their support of unionism and radical political movements. Two chapters address New York’s garment industry, including one by Andrew Dolkart, who traces the rags-to-riches career of developer Abraham E. Lefcourt. After an overview based on her introduction, “The Chosen People in the Chosen Land,” Professors Kobrin and Dolkart will discuss the extraordinary dominance of Jews in the creation and culture of “Seventh Avenue.”Rebecca Kobrin is the Russell and Bettina Knapp Assistant Professor of American Jewish History at Columbia University. She has published widely on issues concerning American Jewish history and East European Jewish migration and is the author of Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.… Read the rest

Thomas E. Rinaldi: NEW YORK NEON

November 29, 2012, 6:30PM-8PM

Thomas E. Rinaldi treats New York City like an open-air museum of signs, capturing the glow of 200 surviving early- and mid-twentieth-century signs. In a generously illustrated introduction, drawing on documents including rare period trade publications, Rinaldi recounts the development of signage and the technological evolution of neon and examines its role in the streets of New York, in America’s cultural identity, and in our collective consciousness. Raised near Poughkeepsie in upstate New York, Thomas E. Rinaldi visited New York City frequently before moving there in 2004. His life-long interest in the city’s built landscape drove him to pursue a career in architecture: he works as a designer for Thornton Tomasetti, a leading engineering and architecture firm. Rinaldi holds degrees in history from Georgetown University and in historic preservation from Columbia University. He is the coauthor, with Robert J. Yasinsac, of Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape.

Carol Willis Lecture

November 6, 2012 6:30PM-8PM

PATTERNMAKER: HOW ZONING SHAPED THE GARMENT DISTRICT

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