Grace Ong Yan

Jul 8, 2021

Building Brands

The Architecture of Corporate Modernism

Lund Humphries 2021

Between the Stock Market Crash and the Vietnam War, American corporations were responsible for the construction of thousands of headquarters across the United States. Over this time, the design of corporate headquarters evolved from Beaux-Arts facades to bold modernist expressions. \

Grace Ong Yan's book Building Brands: The Architecture of Corporate Modernism (Lund Humphries, 2021) examines how clients and architects together crafted buildings to reflect their company’s brand, carefully considering consumers’ perception and their emotions towards the architecture and the messages they communicated. By focusing on four American corporate headquarters: the PSFS Building by George Howe and William Lescaze, the Johnson Wax Administration Building by Frank Lloyd Wright, Lever House by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and The Röhm & Haas Building by Pietro Belluschi, Building Brands shows how corporate modernism evolved. In the 1930s, architecture and branding were separate and distinct. By the 1960s, they were completely integrated. Drawing on interviews and original material from corporations' archives, it examines how company leaders, together with their architects, conceived of their corporate headquarters not only as the consolidation of employee workplaces, but as architectural mediums to communicate their corporate identities and brands.

Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is an Adjunct Professor at Alfred State College and the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he can be reached by sending an email to btoepfer@toepferarchitecture.

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Bryan Toepfer

Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is an Assistant Professor at Alfred State College and the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he hosts the New Books Network – Architecture podcast, is an NCARB Licensing Advisor and helps coach candidates taking the Architectural Registration Exam.

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