Constructing Building Enclosures: Architectural History, Technology and Poetics in the Postwar Era, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Constructing Building Enclosures

Architectural History, Technology and Poetics in the Postwar Era, 1st Edition

Edited by Clifton Fordham


328 pages | 115 B/W Illus.

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Constructing Building Enclosures investigates and interrogates tensions 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 post-war modernism, 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. 

Table of Contents


Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Enclosure Expanded

Clifton Fordham


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

4Victor 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


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


About the Editor

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

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / History / General
ARCHITECTURE / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
ARCHITECTURE / History / Contemporary (1945-)
ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Construction / General