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The affirmation of reinforced concrete and the kinds of space generated by its structures is one of the most fascinating and revolutionary chapters in the history of twentieth century architecture and engineering. This richly illustrated, three-volume essay, New Era of American Architectural Concrete: From Wright to SOM offers the first complete overview of all the most significant research conducted in concrete in the United States of America from 1940 to 1970, in which the greatest architects of the time were involved including Frank Lloyd Wright, I.M. Pei, Louis Kahn, Paul Rudolf, Eero Saarinen, Bertrand Goldberg, Mies van der Rohe, Myron Goldsmith, Marcel Breuer, Skidmore Owings & Merril, Walter Gropius, Roche-Dinkeloo, Minoru Yamasaki, Harrison & Abramovitz, William Pereira, Emery Roth & Sons, and others.

The analysis of the works presented on the pages of the three books reconstructs the most important inventions in the use of concrete, whether reinforced or not, prefabricated or cast in place, used in the form of skeleton, walls, columns, blocks or panels. The book leads readers to the discovery of shells, from those of Wallace Neff to those of Frederick John Kiesler, John M. Johansen, Eduardo Catalano, Harrison & Abramovitz or Marcel Breuer, and to the various experiments and applications of Gunite; it then gives an introduction to the understanding of the processes of self-construction made possible by innovative technical solutions, from the “desert concrete” of Frank Lloyd Wright, to the earth-cast concrete of Paolo Soleri, or the kind of concrete masonry of the “aggregate rubble” of Eero Saarinen; it provides the critical tools and technical data to dive into the meanings of the masterpieces of Bertrand Goldberg, Roche-Dinkeloo or Philip Johnson, raised with colossal hollow columns thanks to slip forms; and it allows readers to follow the phases of the invention of the Lift-Slab method and its multiple applications, up to the works of Mies van der Rohe and his disciples. Through the pages of the book, readers will discover the birth and evolution of the most ingenious structural devices for the construction of reinforced concrete skyscrapers, through the analysis of the works and projects of Mies, SOM, Wright, Kahn, Saarinen or Pei; readers are introduced to the analysis of decisive contributions made by engineers such as Fred Severud, Tung-Yen Lin, Fazlur Rahman Khan, Frank J. Kornacker, August Komendant, Keast & Hood, Weinberg, Ammann & Whitney, Richard Bradshaw, William James LeMessurier, Weiskopf & Pickworth; the book also allows readers to learn about the role played by construction companies such as George A. Fuller Company or associations such as the Atlantic Prestressed Concrete Company.

The book also includes a chapter on a new kind of ornament, permitted by special plastic products applied to formwork, and other chapters dedicated to the different processing techniques to obtain various surface textures, from the bush-hammering of Marcel Breuer and Anshen & Allen, to the corduroy concrete of Paul Rudolph; it enters the complex theoretical universe of truths and lies, upon which the greatest architects have debated through the manipulation of concrete; finally it guides the readers up to the temporary decline of the creative force of structures, a decline marked by the theoretical statements of Peter Eisenman and Robert Venturi, and the advent of post-modernism. These are some of the topics discussed in New Era of American Architectural Concrete, which not only offers a first exhaustive history of a technique that was decisive in the United States, but also a new vision of twentieth century American architecture.


  • Prologue – Surface Finishes by the Book: The Accomplishments of Architectural Concrete
  • Chapter one. The Self-Built Construction of Wright and Residential Fabrication Systems – Wright’s Desert Concrete: Toward a Constructional Primitivism – Textile and Concrete Blocks for the Usonian Houses – The Experimental Residential Construction of Rudolph and Goldberg – The Monolithic Houses of Le Tourneau and IBEC – The Lift Slab Method by Youtz & Slick and by the Vagtborg Corporation
  • Chapter two. The Primitive Frame of Mies – Beauty is the Splendor of Truth: Mies’s Chicago Debut – Belluschi’s Equitable Building: The Copy – The Promontory Apartments: The Degree Zero of the New Chicago Frame – Prototype Variations – Affordable Housing in Chicago, or the Miesian Aesthetic
  • Chapter three. Prestressing and New Structures for Concrete – Prestressed Girders and the Walnut Lane Bridge – Wright’s Butterfly Bridge and Soleri’s Tubular Bridge – The Helio-Laboratory Tower in Racine – Pei and Severud’s Structure for the Helix Apartment Tower
  • Chapter four. Kahn’s Space Frame – The Tetrahedron Floor System and Béton Brut of the Yale Art Gallery – Growth, Stratification, and Groove: The Impossible Monolith – A Space Frame for the City Hall Building
  • Chapter five. Effects of Scale and Prestressing: Works by SOM and Mies – Goldsmith: Superstructure and Bracing – Learning from Nervi – SOM’s Quest for an Expressive Structure – The Bridges and Prestressed Girders of SOM and Khan – New Paths of Gravity: Goldsmith and Lin – Mies’s Reinforced Trilith
  • Chapter six. The Skyscrapers of Mies, Kahn, and Wright – The Unclear Structure of Mies and Severud for the Seagram Building – Johnson and the Enigma of Diagonal Bracing – Kahn’s Tower of Triangular Concrete Frames – The Richards Laboratories: Prefabrication and Post-Tensioning – Wright’s Tripod Frame Construction and Molded Ornament – The Illinois Mile-High Cantilever Sky-City
  • Chapter seven. Architectural Concrete Variations, from Breuer to Saarinen – Mo-Sai Precast Concrete Cladding Panels – The Bush-Hammered Concrete of Breuer and the Sandblasting of Anshen & Allen – The Ineffable Material Substance of Saarinen’s Concrete – SOM’s Experiments for a Concrete Skyscraper – Rudolph, Pei, Harrison & Abramovitz, and Prefabricated Panels – Saarinen’s rubble aggregate concrete – Applied ornament versus texture: plastic and transfers
  • Chapter eight. Shells and Formwork: A New World of Forms – Neff’s Airform House – Wright’s Guggenheim Museum, or the Gunite Spiral – The Construction Site of the Monolith without Imprints – Kiesler’s Endless House and Johansen’s Sprayed Concrete House – Cosanti and Arcosanti by Soleri: Modeling Concrete with Earth – Saarinen, Nowicki and Yamasaki: The New Search for Symbolic Forms – The Rise of Shells and Candela’s Hyperbolic Paraboloid – Warped Surface Structures by Catalano and Caminos – The Prefabrication of Structural Shells in the Manner of Nervi – Breuer’s Hyperbolic Paraboloids and Pleated Walls – The Pleated Shells of Harrison & Abramovitz – Distinctive and Memorable: Saarinen’s Airport Terminals – Thin Shells in Sprayed Concrete at the New York World’s Fair – Cast and Prefabricated Earth Form Shells – The Diffusion of Gunite Shells – Empathic Shells by Johnson and Lautner
  • Chapter nine. The Béton Brut and Architectural Concrete of Kahn, Breuer, Pei, Mies, and Le Corbusier – Kahn’s Concrete Blocks – The Béton Brut of the First Unitarian Church – The Concrete of Kahn’s Disciples – Graphic Textures of Breuer’s Begrisch Hall – The Cast-in-Place Technique Restudied by Pei & Associates – Prestressing and Sandblasting – Structure versus Plasticity: The Immutable Concrete of Mies and his Epigones – Le Corbusier Smooths His Style: The Carpenter Center
  • Chapter ten. Truth and Disguises: Johnson, Stone, Harrison and Yamasaki – Concrete and the Reasoned Copy According to Johnson – Distorted Conjunctions: Non-Miesian Directions – Neo-Classicism versus Concrete – Edward Durell Stone and Concrete Veils – Accumulation of History – Harrison and the Egg – The Metaphors of Yamasaki
  • Chapter eleven. The Liquid Stone of Rudolph and Kahn – The Highly-Textured Surfaces of Rudolph – Graphic Surface Effects or Concrete Techniques – The Sieve Tray Device and the Nature of the Material – Corduroy Concrete: Grooving and Chipping – Concrete Block with Chipped Grooves – The Discovery of Concrete Dripping – Ready-made Transfers: The Horrors of Double Casting – The Liquid Stone of Kahn: the Construction Site of the Salk Institute – The Philosophy of the Panel: Juncture Strip, Pour Joint, Shrinkage Joint, Cold Joint – The Erasure of Wood Imprints – Post-Tensioned Shells for the Kimbell Art Museum – Research into the Inherent Properties of the Material
  • Chapter twelve. Against the Metallic Curtain Wall – The Exotic Farce of Modernity, from Hawaii to Kentucky – The Prefabricated Panels of Gropius and Emery Roth & Sons – The Schokbeton of the American Architects, from SOM to Breuer
  • Chapter thirteen. SOM and the Vital Spirit of America – Structures in Concrete or Steel: Prototypes in Chicago and Houston – The Era of Exposed Reinforced Concrete According to Bunshaft – The Power of Prestressing and Post-Tensioning: Exceptional Measures of Space – The Oakland Coliseum: The Building of a Roman Dream—and Its Variations – The Arbeton of Shilstone and SOM
  • Chapter fourteen. In Search of New Structural Systems – The Spirit of Building: Saarinen’s CBS Building – The Tube Concept and the Transfer Girder of Khan and SOM – Rigid Tube Projects – True Structural Expression: The Formless Masterpieces of Graham and Khan – New Facades for Exposed Concrete for Skyscrapers – According to Breuer – Yamasaki’s Anti-Acrophobia Mullions for Skyscrapers – The Teachings of Goldsmith and Khan at the Illinois Institute of Technology – Space Grid Structures at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Aesthetics and Technology in the Works of Nervi and Belluschi
  • Chapter fifteen. Slip Forms for Skyscrapers, from Goldberg to Roche & Dinkeloo – Goldberg’s Marina City: A Structure for the Slipform System – “Structure Follows Space”: Variations – Condit and the New Chicago School – Ornament and Slipform Construction: Bay View Terrace – The Knights of Columbus Building by Roche & Dinkeloo – Johnson’s Hollow Cores and Their Disguise – Kahn, Catalano, Pei and the Slipform – Eccentric Structures for Towers and Skyscrapers
  • chapter sixteen. Monolithic, Sculptural, Graphic: the Concrete of Pei and Breuer – Pei’s Ribbed Concrete: Searching for the Monolithic – The Style of Perfection – The East Building, Cabinet Makers’ Concrete – Ramified Pilotis and Molded Panels: Breuer’s “Depth of Facade” – Sculptor in Concrete and Cladding – The Ultimate Surfaces of Sympathetic Textures
  • Chapter seventeen. The Monuments of Roche & Dinkeloo, Johnson, and Kahn – Roche & Dinkeloo’s Viaduct Structure – Johnson, or the Death of the Idée Fixe – Kahn’s Concrete: “nothing else”
  • Chapter eighteen. Composite or Non-Linear Structure: The Enigmas of SOM – Bunshaft’s SOM and the Triumph of Exposed Concrete – Khan’s Composite System – Non-Linear Structures: Netsch’s Field Theory and Béton Brut
  • Chapter nineteen. Nostalgia for Béton Brut – Architectural Concrete: Trends and Achievements – Textured Beton Surface and the Anti-Establishment Years – Johansen’s Irreverent Brut – An Epigone of Béton Brut: Sert – The Boston City Hall: Difficult Architecture
  • Chapter twenty. Epilogue: The Grid and the Mask – Hejudk’s Nine Square Problem and Rowe’s Chicago Frame – Eisenman’s “Formal Structure” – Venturi’s Pop Icons
  • Name Index
  • Illustration Credits


Publisher: EPFL Press English Imprint

Author(s): Roberto Gargiani

Collection: Architecture

Published: 19 november 2020

Edition: 1st edition

Media: Book

Pages count Book: 916

Format (in mm) Book: 170 x 240

Weight (in grammes): 2950

Language(s): English

EAN13 Book: 9782889154029

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