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1 L E V L E E R H O V E R U S E H Brittny Dartt Created by: Alexander Russo G O R D O N B U N S H A F T Brittny Dartt Alexander Russo O U S E

2 Lever House Architect: Gordon Bunshaft (Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill) Location: New York City, New York Year Constructed: , Renovated in 1998 Type of Architecture: Modernist/International Site Area: 34,830 sqft Floor Area: 289,584 sqft Street View of Lever House Table of Contents About the Architect: Gordon Bunshaft 3 Thesis: Defining Ideas 4 Thesis: Main Components 5 Plans, Sections, Elevations 7 Circulation 9 Structure 11 Program 13 Public vs. Private 14 Tower Location 15 Natural Light 17 Public Plaza 18 Curtain Wall 19 Closing Statement 21 Annotated Bibliography 23 Table of Contents 2

3 Gordon Bunshaft on the cover of LIFE magazine Gordon Bunshaft was born on May 9th, 1909 in Buffalo, New York to Russian immigrant parents. In 1935 he graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with an M.Arch, and two years later he joined the firm that became Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Bunshaft quickly became their chief designer, and eventually a partner with the firm. Bunshaft retired from SOM in 1979 and in 1988 he nominated himself for, and won the Pritzker Prize alongside Oscar Niemeyer. Bunshaft passed away on August 6th, 1990 at the age of eighty one. When designing the Lever House, one main concern of the client (Lever Brothers soap company) was that it would look clean. They wanted it to shine in the middle of the grime of New York City. When approached with this task Bunshaft came up with a few rather innovative and impressive ideas. Bunshaft designed a twenty four story, blue green glass and stainless steel curtain wall, the first of its kind, to create a sparkling clean look. He also came up with the idea to create a new cleaning method for a new kind of skyscraper. He decided to create a roof-top window-washing gondola that moved about the parapet wall on tracks. Along with this, none of the windows in the building opened, closing out the diirt and reducing the cost of energy. Bunshaft also decided to raise the Lever House up on a podium platform to create a public plaza below. This was a radical concept because no other private office buildings had opened up an entire floor to the public. Overall, the Lever House was the first of its class, and although its been copied many times no one else has been able to capture the union of the curtain wall and public plaza in quite the same way the Lever House does. 3 Gordon Bunshaft Defining Ideas 4

4 Main Components Curtain Wall The curtain wall was the first of its kind in New York City, New York. It s made up of blue-green glass and stainless steel. It was renovated in 1998 when it began to get worn and ruined. Tower The twenty four story tower was unique not only because of the curtain wall but also because it was rather small by manhattan standards for a skyscraper. Podium/Courtyard The raised ground level allowed for public access and created a plaza for people to walk through and enjoy. This was a rather new concept, especially for a private building in a city like New York. Location The busy streets of New York City create the backdrop of this building. The site is sorrounded by office buildings and busy streets which helped Bunshaft come up with the idea of raising it up and creating a public plaza for all of the traffic that passes through. 5 Main Components 6

5 Plan: Ground Floor Section Plan: Level 1 Elevation Plan: Level 2 7 Plans, Sections, Elevation 8

6 Circulation The circulatory paths of the Lever House spatially connect the two main parts of the building; the podium and the tower. A set of stairs, and another set of emergency stairs bring you up from the ground floor to the basement or the second floor. To rise up through the tower there is the option of emergency stairs or an elevator. Since the main function of this building is the offices the circulation is relatively straightfoward and uncomplicated. 9 Circulation 10

7 Structure Since one of the Lever House s main focuses is the curtain wall, and the curtain wall is also one of the main structural members there is a strong tie in between structure and design. The podium level is also raised up on structural columns that also act as an aid in defining the public plaza and gallery space. 11 Structure 12

8 Program, Public vs. Private The program of the building is relatively simple. The ground floor is a public space with an open courtyard that cuts up through the first and second floors, lobby space, and an art gallery. The second floor is made up of a lounge, cafeteria, kitchen and utility space which is public, but only for the people who work in the building. All of the tower floors have the same setup; office and utility space. The only exception to the tower rule is the top few floors which house the mechanical equipment such as the air conditioning units. 13 Program Program, Public vs. Private 14

9 Tower Location In many previous skyscrapers the tower has been centered around the base, however in the Lever House there is a shift in the tower s central plane and the podium s central plane that creates a new type of skyscraper

10 Natural Light One of the most innovative aspects of the Lever House is its open plan ground floor which opens up the space to the public allowing them to flow through the space all year (except one sunday a year due to a private property law). People enter from any side of the street and wanderr under the podium between the structural columns and into either the open courtyard, the lobbies, or the public gallery space. The Lever House was one of the first buildings to introduce the idea of a public plaza in a private office building, especially in a city like New York. The curtain wall which covers the entirety of the twenty four story tower allows natural light to flow freely from the top all the way through to the bottom floors. The second floor is also covered in nonfunctional windows to allow natural light to flow freely, however the ground floor and the basement floors must rely on unnatural lighting sources. 17 Natural Light Public Plaza 18

11 19 Curtain Wall In order to create the twenty four story blue-green heat resistant glass and stainless steel curtain wall the architects had to hire a team of engineers, general contractors and subcontractors. They designed the structure by creating a steel frame with tower bays laid out so that only narrow vertical mullions interrupt the glass. That was then sheathed in 16-ga Type 302 stainless steel which was screwed into to the exterior glazing. The glazing channels were then screwed into the structural mullions. This extensive and expensive proccess was time consuming, but the outcome of the shimmering glass exterior and the cost and energy saving structure made the effort worth it in the end.

12 Public Plaza View From Sidewalk View of Podium From Street View With the creation of the Lever House, Gordon Bunshaft introduced a new age for the skyscraper. With the use of the curtain wall and the public plaza he created an innovative approach to a simplistic geometric idea. And although the Lever House is small by Manhattan standards it still remains to this day a pivotal building in the history of the modern skyscraper. Drawing of Lever House at Night by Hugh Ferris 21 Closing Statement 22

13 Annotated Bibliography Dixon, John Morris. A Paragon Preserved Architecture December 2002: pp Magazine. This was an incredibly useful and informative source. It had all of the information necessary to complete the research, along with some very useful, well-explained images. Most of the information was about the restoration of the building instead of the original structure but the information shed a lot of light on the subject. Freeman, Alan. Proving Ground. Landscape Architecture January 2005: pp Magazine. This source was about as helpful as the previous one and it touched upon a lot of the same subjects, however it focused a bit more on the specific style of architecture and the architecture firm in charge of the restoration. It was mostly filled with information about the restoration but it touched a lot on the original structure unlike the previous source. Overall it was very valuable. Stevens, Suzanne. Analysis: The Restoration of New York City s Lever House is not so same old same old. Architectural Record March 2003: pp Magazine. Architectural Record is usually very helpful with photography and graphics in understanding a space, and it proved true in this case. Surprisingly though it was also very informative on the structure and the materials used in the restoration. Stevens did a fantastic job summarizing the construction, the history, and the importance of this historic building. Texier, Simon. Lever House. AMC April 2007: pp 67. Magazine. The only information taken from this source was a few images and graphics, which were beneficial, but overall the source wasn t incredibly helpful due to it not being in English. Weston, Richard. Key Buildings of the 20th Century: Plans, Sections and Elevations. New York: W.W. Norton &, Print. Founded in Chicago in 1936 by Louis Skidmore and Nathaniel Owings (Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill). Gordon Bunshaft joined he firm as partner in charge of design for this project. The Lever House is right across from Mies van der Rohe s Seagram Building. The Lever House is made up of a 21-story office tower and a two-story podium building raised up on columns and crowned by a roof garden. The bottom level houses the lobbies, a cafeteria and a restaurant. This source was very helpful with the very basic essential information necessary, however it was lacking in in-depth details and further research. The few images in the book were useful, but uninformative. They lacked explanation and reasoning. 23 Annotated Bibliography 24

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