APT DC Webinar: Iconic Buildings, Iconic Details: Mid-Century Modernist Academic Buildings

  • Thursday, May 02, 2024
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Zoom Webinar


(depends on selected options)

Base fee:

Registration is closed

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

While iconic mid-century modernist buildings were once shockingly new, seemingly acontextual additions to the traditional architecture of college campuses, today they are increasingly appreciated and admired as part of a rich legacy of campus architecture from many different periods. On these iconic works, the renowned modernist architects often carried their broad design ideals down to the finest level, creating iconic, functional details that reinforced and enhanced the overall aesthetic ideals of the project.

In this webinar, we will explore one such detail from each of five iconic buildings, appreciating the aesthetic success of each detail and also examining its technical success or failure to distill what we can learn from it today, either for restoration or for new design. This lecture will explore the following iconic mid-century modernist academic buildings:

  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (Gordon Bunshaft, SOM, 1963): Marble panel glazing
  • Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University (Le Corbusier, 1963): Fixed, frameless windows set in concrete
  • Kresge Auditorium, MIT (Eero Saarinen, 1955): Thin shell concrete roof to buttress
  • MIT Chapel (Eero Saarinen, 1955): Vestibule steel window wall with leaded glass
  • Phillips Exeter Academy Library (Louis Kahn, 1971): Stainless steel cap to teak panels


After attending this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize the way in which masterful modernists integrated technically sophisticated and thoughtful details with their overall aesthetic vision.
  • Understand how seemingly minor enclosure details can significantly affect durability.
  • Identify what enclosure details are most likely to be problematic in their durability.
  • Design or redesign these potentially problematic details for long-term durability, while maintaining overall aesthetic goals.
1 AIA CES Learning Unit (LU/HSW) has been requested (pending) for the webinar.


Matthew Bronski is the SGH Preservation Practice Area Leader, and has led SGH’s projects on many iconic modernist buildings. He holds degrees in engineering, architecture, and historic preservation.  He has published numerous papers on historic preservation and building enclosure issues, and has served as a guest lecturer or guest critic at numerous universities, including Harvard, MIT, and Yale. He also serves as an instructor in the Getty Conservation Institute’s annual international course on conserving modern architecture. In 2009, he became only the second engineer in 113 years to receive the prestigious Rome Prize, which he received in the field of Historic Preservation and Conservation.

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