1st Edition

Constructing Building Enclosures Architectural History, Technology and Poetics in the Postwar Era

Edited By Clifton Fordham Copyright 2021
    278 Pages 115 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 115 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Constructing Building Enclosures investigates and interrogates tensions that arose between the disciplines of architecture and engineering as they wrestled with technology and building cultures that evolved to deliver structures in the modern era. At the center of this history are inventive architects, engineers and projects that did not settle for conventional solutions, technologies and methods.

    Comprised of thirteen original essays by interdisciplinary scholars, this collection offers a critical look at the development and the purpose of building technology within a design framework. Through two distinct sections, the contributions first challenge notions of the boundaries between architecture, engineering and construction. The authors then investigate twentieth-century building projects, exploring technological and aesthetic boundaries of postwar modernism and uncovering lessons relevant to enclosure design that are typically overlooked. Projects include Louis Kahn’s Weiss House, Minoru Yamasaki’s Science Center, Sigurd Lewerentz’s Chapel of Hope and more.

    An important read for students, educators and researchers within architectural history, construction history, building technology and design, this volume sets out to disrupt common assumptions of how we understand this history. 


    Notes on Contributors

    Introduction: Enclosure Expanded

    Clifton Fordham

    PART 1

    Framing Enclosures

    1 Cladding the Palazzo Lavoro: Pier Luigi Nervi and "The Borderline Between Decoration and Structure."

    Thomas Leslie

    2 The Decorative Modernism of Aluminium Cladding: Architecture and Industry

    Tait Johnson

    3 The United Nations Secretariat, Its Glass Facades and Air-conditining,1947-1950

    Joseph M. Siry

    4 Victor Lundy, Walter Bird, and the Promise of Pneumatic Architecture

    Whitney Moon

    5 Saarinen’s Shells: The Evolved Influence of Engineering and Construction

    Rob Whitehead

    6 Coenesthetic Comfort: Between Climate and the Body

    Andrew Cruse

    PART 2

    Assembling Constructions

    7 Responsive Modernism: Louis Kahn’s Weiss Residence Enclosure

    Clifton Fordham

    8 Intent vs. Interpretation: the Prosaic Poetics of Leweremtz & Nyberg

    Matthew Hall

    9 "The Material of the Future": Precast Concrete at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair

    Tyler S. Sprague

    10 The Concrete Facades of Paul Rudolph’s Christian Science Building, 1965-1986

    Scott Murray

    11 Bill Hajjar’s Air-Wall: A Mid-Twentieth Century Four-Sided Double Skin Facade

    Ute Poerschke and Mahyar Hadighi

    12 Defining the Double-Skin Facade in the Post-war Era

    Mary Ben Bonham

    13 Enclosure as Ecological Apparatus: Biosphere 2’s Far-From-Equilibrium "Human Experiment"

    Meredith Sattler



    Clifton Fordham is a registered architect and Assistant Professor at Temple University, where he teaches building design and building technology. His current focus is buillding enclosures with an emphasis on how their design relates to the sun. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture and Howard University.

    Constructing Building Enclosures: History, Technology and Poetics in the Postwar Era provides a much-needed reexamination of technology within the history of modern architecture. By prioritizing the symbolic role of architectural detailing, Fordham's well-edited collection of essays demonstrates the promise of a hermeneutical approach to construction history. Architects, historians, and engineers will find the book a valuable resource for discovering the poetics underlying our technologically mediated world.

    -Jason Robert Crow, Architectural Historian and Coordinator of the PhD program in the Department of Architecture and Planning at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.