Tall Office Buildings Research Project



In my research project I will investigate how architects solve the complex problem of the tall office building and provide a solution in the form of a building that exudes power, pride, and glory; symbols of American achievement. I will look closely at primary source material from the Lancaster Historical Society and the Lancaster Trust Company for two Lancaster office buildings, the Greist building and the Brunswick Hotel. I will also look at the development of skyscrapers in Chicago as a point of comparison for Lancaster.

The starting point for my research was the article The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered.

Primary Sources:

Lancaster Historical Society:

Photos of Greist Building and Brunswick Hotel that are available on the photo database.

I will access these photos and will be able to closely observe the venustas of the two tall office buildings. These two buildings will serve as evidence in proving my thesis.


  • Paper about the Greist building and it’s significance in Lancaster’s urbanization.


  • Collection relating to William Walton Greist will be used to investigate the Greist building.


  • Collection relating to C Emlen Urban will be used to analyze office building in Lancaster.

Lancaster Trust Company:

From the Lancaster trust company I hope to further my analysis of the office building by comparing the venustas of these buildings to the firmitas. I will accomplish this by examining the sanborn maps of the Greist building and Brunswick Hotel. I hope it will give me insight on the symbolism and challenges of creating the buildings.

Shad-Fack Sources :

Benevolo, Leonardo. History if Modern Architecture . Vol. 1. Cambridge : The M.I.T Press , 1960. Print. 2 vols. This book will be used to examine the criticism that arose as a result of the creation of the industrial town. Also I will look at the rapid industrialization of Chicago in order to compare it to the grown of Lancaster

Curtis, William. Modern Architecture since 1900. London: Phaidon, 1996. Print. This source will help me gain a general background in the subject of architecture and skyscraper architecture. It looks and urbanization and how it led to the discovery of the skyscraper. Additionally I will look at the symbolism of skyscrapers in general. With this source I will begin to examine how tall office buildings can symbolize beauty and elegance.

Johnson, Scott. Tall Building: Imagining the Skyscraper. N.p.: Balcony, 2008. Print. This source will provide information on the socioeconomic conditions that lead to the rise of the skyscraper. Additionally this source will provide insight in the artistic interpretation of these massive buildings. Additionally I will look at how the building are perceived by observers. Note: this book was not available at Shad-Fack so I requested it via the E-Z borrow system.

Merwood-Salisbury, Joanna. Chicago 1890 : the skyscraper and the modern city. N.p.: University of Chicago, 2009. Print. This book will be used to gain more insight on the architecture of office building in chicago. Additionally I will compare the office building to those in lancaster and asses then from an aesthetic point of view.

Scully, Vincent. American Architecture and Urbanism. New York: Praeger, 1969. Print. I am using this source to examine the evolution of skyscraper design in major american cities. I will use this source to compare these buildings to tall office buildings in Lancaster.

Sharoff, Robert. American city : St. Louis architecture : three centuries of classic design. N.p.: Images Publishing Group, 2010. Print.

Sullivan, Louis H. “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered.” Lippincott’s Magazine Mar. 1896: 403-409. Internet Archive. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <http://ia700403.us.archive.org/‌11/‌items/‌tallofficebuildi00sull/‌tallofficebuildi00sull.pdf&gt;.


Much of the beginning of the research project will be concentrated on gaining background information in the F&M Libraries.

Week 1

I will spend the first week investigating back ground information on tall office buildings and skyscrapers. The first book I will focus on will be Modern Architecture since 1900. Additionally I will revisit The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered to further my evidence.

Week 2

In week two I will continue with my background research. I will take notes on History if Modern Architecture and Chicago 1890: the skyscraper and the modern city. This week I will focus on getting information on modern cities other than Lancaster.

Week 3

This week I hope to wrap up the majority of my background reading and conclude the initial stage of my research project. I will look at American Architecture and Urbanism and American city: St. Louis architecture: three centuries of classic design. Depending on my progress I may begin to organize my paper this week or visit primary source material.

Week 4

This week I will read the book Tall Building: Imagining the Skyscraper and visit the Lancaster Trust Company to look at sanborn maps of Lancaster office buildings. Additionally I plan to visit the Lancaster Historical Society to examine more primary source materials and to look at the visual records of Lancaster office buildings.

Week 5 and on

I will continue to examine primary source material from the Lancaster Trust Company and the Lancaster Historical Society. I will revisit my background research as necessary. Additionally I hope to visit the Brunswick Hotel and Greist Building. I will organize my gathered materials and notes and begin to write my paper.


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