Gordon Bunshaft’s landmark 1952 design for Lever House reshaped the Manhattan skyline and elevated the reputation of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the firm where he would spend more than 40 years as a partner. His legacy endures in the corporate headquarters, museums, and libraries that were built in his distinctive modernist style. Although this enigmatic architect left behind few records and famously claimed “the building speaks for itself,” architecture historian Nicholas Adams discerns in his work as a tension between his ambition for acclaim as a singular artistic genius and the collaborative structure of SOM’s architectural partnership. Join us for a talk that examines Bunshaft’s work in a critical context at a time when the future of some of his iconic works is very much in question.
Nicholas Adams is professor emeritus of architectural history at Vassar College, where he has taught since 1989. He is the author of several books, including Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: SOM since 1936, and serves on the editorial board of the Italian architectural magazine Casabella, to which he is also a frequent contributor.