Rewriting Skyscraper History: Looking Back from the 21st Century | Downtown Alliance

Rewriting Skyscraper History: Looking Back from the 21st Century

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Sep 30, 2020
6:00 PM to 12:00 AM
Skyscraper Museum
39 Battery Place
New York, NY 10280-1501
Free
Over the fall of 2020, The Skyscraper Museum will present a series of webinar sessions designed as a free online course on the early development of the skyscraper as a distinct building type. This week's topic is Masonry to Steel, 1870S-1890S: How and When Masonry Systems of Construction Transitioned to Steel. Viewers will experience a pair of programs—led by New York structural engineer Donald Friedman, author of The Structure of Skyscrapers in America, 1871–1900, and historian of Chicago Thomas Leslie—which revisit the fabled architectural rivalries of America’s largest and most innovative cities. Their talks will keep a tight focus on the key decades of the 1870s, the beginning of the end of “the age of masonry,” and the dawn of mass-production of rolled steel I-beams, which from the mid-1880s offered new economies for construction. Yet the eventual marriage of masonry and metal took time to birth the full steel skeleton, often called “the Chicago frame.” Leslie and Friedman will explore the ways that traditional bearing walls enlarged window openings to illuminate interior workspaces until the wall became, in effect, a frame, and how hybrid systems of “cage construction” served practical purposes and were slow to disappear in practice. Both emphasize how construction moved toward industrial materials to reduce the cost of skilled labor, especially bricklayers. In Friedman’s succinct formulation: modern structure is industrialized structure. These programs will build on several past lectures at The Skyscraper Museum by both speakers: the videos of these previous talks are highly recommended as background for this discussion.
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Location Info

39 Battery Place
Ground Floor
New York, NY 10280-1501