Events September 2021

PSFS Building rooftop sign, designed as a neon billboard. Courtesy of Philadelphia Saving Fund Society, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE.
György Kepes designed fifteen Plexiglas chandeliers for the Pietro Belluschi-designed Röhm and Haas building. The upper portion of the chandelier was a light box, which cast light through the multitudinous 2,087 Plexiglas rods. © Ezra Stoller/Esto
A leasing brochure boasted ‘superb office space in the handsome new Röhm and Haas Building under construction where the most exciting urban renewal is going forward . . .’ c.1963. Courtesy of Science History Foundation.

Modernism as Branding: Selling Thrift, Soap & Plexiglas

September 29, 2021

DOCOMOMO US/New York Tri-State’s Modern Conversations series is back for Fall. In this virtual talk, architectural historian Grace Ong Yan will investigate the intersection of branding, corporate design, and business in midcentury America, revealing a new interpretation of the history of corporate modernism from the perspective of the business client. This event coincides with the recent publication of Ong Yan’s book, Building Brands: Corporations and Modern Architecture (Lund Humphries, 2021).

Exploring the role of architectural branding in the design of corporate headquarters, Ong Yan highlights how business strategies, modern architecture, urban conditions, and conceptions of society shaped the ambitious branding goals of corporate clients. She re-casts the histories of the PSFS Building by Howe and Lescaze, the Johnson Wax Administration Building by Frank Lloyd Wright, Lever House by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and the Röhm & Haas Building by Pietro Belluschi, detailing how specific design strategies brought company messages to the public.

Grace Ong Yan is an architectural historian and assistant professor of interior design at Thomas Jefferson University. Her scholarship explores interdisciplinary intersections of architectural and business histories, media, and space. She is co-editor of two editions of  Architect: The Pritzker Prize Laureates in Their Own Words (2018, 2010).


Wednesday September 29, 6:30pm EST
Virtual presentation. Registrants will be emailed a link to access the program.

DOCOMOMO members: free, General public: $10