The ubiquitous “Glass Box” skyscrapers of the postwar era have a surprisingly opaque history. In this talk, architect and professor Thomas Leslie asks “where did the glass skin come from?” and shows how lighting, air conditioning, and glass technologies developed in the decades before Lever House and Seagram. Leslie reveals how solid-wall systems rapidly evolved through experiments with reliable cladding and servicing systems to produce the triumph of transparency.
Thomas Leslie is the Morrill Pickard Chilton Professor in Architecture at Iowa State University, where he researches the integration of building sciences and arts both historically and in contemporary practice. He is the author of Louis I. Kahn: Building Art, Building Science (2005), Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 (2013) and, with Jason Alread and Robert Whitehead, Design-Tech: Building Science for Architects (2014).