Lecture Series

This page compiles all of the Museum’s lecture series. Click on the titles or images below to see each lecture series' landing page and their individual programs.

As an extension of our exhibition TALL TIMBER: The Future of Cities in Wood, the Skyscraper Museum presents a series of lectures and panels that bring together key voices in the Mass Timber movement to reflect on its short history, current condition, and promising future.

This lecture series examines key experiments in concrete construction, including a range of paradigmatic concrete skyscrapers throughout history, showing how the material’s unique structural properties and its versatile nature have inspired designers to create radically new forms and to push skyscraper engineering to its current limits.

The focus of the talks was on the first half-century of high-rise history, the 1870s-1920s. Technologies of steam power, steel production, and railroad and bridge engineering modernized methods of construction, replacing masonry traditions and labor practices. Yet the adoption of new technologies could sometimes be slow, as Friedman and Leslie explain, and each city’s development, building culture, and codes dealt with local conditions and constraints. In the triad of materials, technology, and labor, how much did each affect the evolution of construction?

These programs extend the Museum's own more than two-decade focus on the history of the original World Trade Center and the rebuilding of Ground Zero that are collected on two projects on our website> World Trade Center Resources and the WTC Rebuilding Timeline.

This thirteen-lecture series began with the architects of supertalls featured in the exhibition SUPERTALL! 2020, who discussed both the inspiration for their designs and issues of the urban context. The engineers described the innovations of their designs within the evolution of concrete-core construction that have typified supertall structural systems in the 21st century. Our cycle concluded with talks by experts in construction management on the importance of the buildability of designs and the monitoring of performance as a way to advance knowledge within the industry.

This evolving symposium engages an established group of scholars – all of whom have all specialized in some aspect of skyscraper history and have collaborated on some of the Museum’s earlier programs – to consider broad questions about the early history of the type without falling into persistent 20th-century narratives, including an emphasis on “firsts;” rivalries over stylistic expression; or competition for superlative height and lists of tallest buildings. Instead, we will consider the lags and learning curves often inherent in the adoption of new technologies into established systems of supply, construction, codes, and other factors.

“From Tenements to Towers,” the subtitle of the new exhibition HOUSING DENSITY at The Skyscraper Museum, describes the arc for this series of lectures and panel programs that examine the history and strategies of development – both private market and publicly-assisted – for housing New York’s multitudes. The programs will bring together leading historians of New York’s architecture, housing, and urban history to consider how debates about “density” have shaped and reshaped New York from the early 20th century reforms of tenement crowding to the problematic urbanism of the “towers in the park” models in the postwar era.

In conjunction with the exhibition WTC: Monument, curated by The Skyscraper Museum and presented at the New-York Historical Society, the Museum organized a series of four programs that examined the planning, design, construction, and operation of the complex with talks by many of the original team who created and managed the Twin Towers.