The Modern Value Proposition

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Signage at the Crossroads: Preserving the Brand Identities

Twentieth-century modern architecture and design was the perfect vehicle for businesses to brand themselves as they constructed new identities through corporate headquarters. Over time, these buildings and in particular, their signs transcended branding to become landmarks and symbols for their communities. I will discuss how business and modern architecture intersected to create architectural branding that effectively spoke to the public with various case studies beginning with the 1932 PSFS Building by Howe and Lescaze. The preservation of branding focuses on the identity of the original clients who were important collaborators of the designs. Unfortunately, important urban-scaled signs are often removed and replaced with the new owner’s signs—a classic example of the baby being thrown out with the bathwater. This talk explores the issues, challenges, and triumphs of protecting and conserving these brand identities as important historical imprints that signal the crossroads of modern architecture and business clients. 

The Late-Modern Glass Skin: A Post-Industrial Vernacular

Long perceived as anonymous, what this presentation refers to as the “Late-Modern glass skin” developed from highly specific and thoughtfully considered contexts, concepts, and intentions. First proposed in the late 1950s, the design system’s two primary components were an all-over, smooth cartesian grid of mullions, coupled to mirror-like reflecting glass: a new material developed by architects Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo of the Eero Saarinen and Associates architectural firm. This presentation will focus upon the contributions of the Saarinen office toward the development of the Late-Modern glass skin, with a special focus upon the Saarinen Holmdel New Jersey Bell Labs project- as both envisioned and built.

PoMo FOMO: Postmodernism and the Fear of Missing Out

Postmodernism has reached an age where many of the materials and assemblies require repair or replacement and many of the structures do not meet current user needs and are threatened with large scale renovation or demolition.  Due to age and lack of affinity for the style very few Postmodern buildings are locally listed or listed the National Register of Historic Places.  The preservation movement is at a crossroads where if we do not act now, we will miss the opportunity to preserve important examples of Postmodernism.

This presentation will focus on be the application of National Register Criteria Considerations and The Secretary of Interior Standards to identify appropriate preservation treatments for Postmodern architecture.  The paper will include a discussion of whether the approach to preservation of original building materials changes for a reactionary style of architecture defined by metaphor.