Tall Office Buildings Research: Week 1



This week I investigated the book; Modern Architecture since 1900 in order to gain a better understanding of the multiple problems presented by the tall office building and the way in which architects addressed these problems. Additionally I revisited The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered in conjunction with my research. After I had acquired more background information on my topic of office buildings I began looking at primary source information. I investigated some pictures of office buildings from the Lancaster Historical Societies’ photographic database. I compared and analyzed photos with the information I found in my background research. The citation for my research can be found in my research proposal.   



I my readings I found that one of the most important problems that architects have overall is creating architecture that will achieve the perception they desire. Different cultural periods have a need for different building to express wants and needs. With rapid industrialization and the discovery of iron and steel, tall office building were called forth to symbolize this time period of rapid change. However, with these monstrous buildings came structural and aesthetic problems. Architects needed to maximize space, but they also were faced with the problem of how to ensure that natural light and air reached the center of the building. The problem of light and air was addressed by placing large bay windows repeated across the facades of the building. The windows would occupy such a large portion of the façade because of the structural strength of the iron and steel beams. The debate of how to aesthetically present and office building was addressed by Louis Sullivan as well as by William Curtis. Both texts emphasize the importance of the architecture transcribing the function of the building. Form fitting function was an essential characteristic of distinct American art during this time period. Additionally, the buildings should be based of nature and should have three parts.  The three parts of the building can be seen clearly in the picture of the Greist Building.


In this photo from the Lancaster Historical Society clearly depicts the three distinct sections of the building. The base of the building is a wide open space and much taller than the other individual floors. The middle floors are identical to each other and demonstrate that the function of these floors is identical to each other. The final top part is distinct from the middle floors it caps the building and probably contains the ventilation system. This tall building is bold and symbolizes power and achievement.


3 Responses to “Tall Office Buildings Research: Week 1”

  1. Randolph Carney Says:

    Have you gone into downtown Lancaster and visited the Griest Building?

    I understand the top floor houses a ballroom with a high ceiling.

  2. Jack Myers Says:

    Your blog on our lovely Lancaster PA is a blog after my own heart and I’m really enjoying the content. I thought you might enjoy this image of mine:



  3. Jack Myers Says:

    Sorry, I messed up the link, please edit as needed.

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