Professor and author Gail Fenske will present a history of Cass Gilbert's 1913 Woolworth Building. Critics hailed his design as a spectacular feat of engineering and wondrous Gothic tower. The highest skyscraper in the world, it secured the emblematic status of New York’s skyline as a “city of towers.” But the Woolworth Building’s fame as a landmark belies the differing aims of its architect, client, and builder, each of whom had a unique relationship to the city. How did Gilbert reconcile his vision for the Woolworth Building with that of his client, F. W. Woolworth, and builder, Louis Horowitz of the Thompson-Starrett Company, to create the artistic masterwork and exemplar of urbanity that we recognize today?

Gail Fenske is author of The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York (University of Chicago Press, 2008). She has written extensively on Cass Gilbert, skyscrapers, and New York, including essays in The American Skyscraper: Cultural Histories (Cambridge University Press, 2005), The Landscape of Modernity (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997) and The Education of the Architect (MIT Press, 1997).

She is professor of architecture in the School of Architecture, Art & Historic Preservation at Roger Williams University, and has taught as a visiting professor at Cornell, Wellesley, and MIT. She is also a licensed architect and has practiced architecture in Boston and New York. She holds a Ph.D. in the history, theory, and criticism of architecture from MIT.

Organized by: AIANY Historic Buildings Committee and the Cass Gilbert Society

Sponsored by: The Skyscraper Museum

This event was a part of Woolworth Week.

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