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A Celebration of American Architecture

July Fourth is a date to commemorate American Independence, but also a day to celebrate our country’s culture, history, people and…Architecture!


KSD team members shared their thoughts on their favorite icons and works of American Architecture.


Of course, we cannot discuss American Architecture without mentioning some of the most symbolic structures in our nation. Dave Springsteen, KSD Director of Projects says, “I think one of our greatest works/achievements is the Empire State Building. Built in 1930 and only took 13 months to build, and it withstood a plane crashing in 1945 on a Friday and opened the following Monday!”

The Empire State Building

New York, New York

Architect: Shreve, Lamb and Harmon

Fun Facts: This 1,454 foot building was once the tallest in the world for almost 40 years. [5]

While iconic works like the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge will always showcase American achievements in engineering and design, KSD Construction and Design Manager Ted Gregory reminded us that we should also “enjoy and celebrate the diverse vernacular architecture across America that expresses the language of the people, climate, and material available to each region of America.” Below are some examples of just that. [4]





As an ultimate favorite, Ted chose modernist Richard Meier’s Getty Center.

The Getty Center

Los Angeles, California

Architect: Richard Meier

Fun Facts: The Center’s buildings are predicted to be able to survive a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, as an effect of retrofitted steel framework that was put in place after an earthquake struck during its construction in 1994. [2]


At times, American Architecture emulates historic European roots. Sherry Cammarata, KSD’s Administrator, named The Breakers to be her favorite. The neo-classic Rhode Island structure is a beautiful summer home displaying its owners’ wealth and status through its size and Italian Renaissance architectural style.

The Breakers

Newport, Rhode Island

Architect: Richard Hunt

Fun Facts: The Breakers is a 70-room mansion with a gross area of over 125,000 square feet, and its footprint covers nearly 1 acre of land. [3]


While Hunt's design of ornamental features are The Breakers' finest quality, other architects insisted that "less is more." KSD Design Manager Ishita Kachru agrees saying, "I love minimalist architecture like Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the Glass House by Philip Johnson."


Farnsworth House

Plano, Illinois

Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Fun Facts: The architect acknowledged modern times as a technology-driven era and designed this simplistic structure as an answer to bring nature and humans into a direct relationship. By his use of material and an open plan, he successfully brought unity between the house and its 60-acre rural site. [9]


Glass House

New Canaan, Connecticut

Architect: Philip Johnson

Fun Facts: The Glass House was designed as a residence for Johnson himself, and the design was fully derived and inspired by Farnsworth House; Johnson was a curator for a Mies van der Rohe exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. [10]


In a discussion of favorite American Architects, KSD Design Manager Hetal Mehta and Designer Manushi Patel both mentioned Steven Holl, an innovative and modern architect of our time. Holl’s watercolor representations of his designs are particularly impressive, says Hetal. It is said that Holl’s turning point work of architecture was his design for the addition to the Nelson-Atkins' Museum.


Henry W. and Marion H. Bloch Gallery of Art

Kansas City, Missouri

Architect: Steven Holl

Fun Facts: The design of this gallery features five glass “lenses” each with a gallery space that fuses landscape, light and architecture while the visitor circulates through the curators vision. [6]

The United States is home to such a diverse collection of architecture in part because of the resources and array of talent that is drawn from all parts of the world. In response to naming extraordinary designers that have built works in the US, Design Manager Hetal Mehta replied, “my all-time favorites are Santiago Calatrava for his sculptural forms and Le Corbusier for his Modernist style."

The Milwaukee Art Museum, Santiago Calatrava

Hetal continued, "I am also a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright; his structures have always been in context and in harmony with nature.”

This was in sync with what our principal, Kamlesh Shah, replied as his favorite work of architecture; the classic: Fallingwater, by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Fallingwater

Mill Run, Pennsylvania

Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright

Fun Facts: To blend the house into its natural surroundings, Wright used a two-color limited palette: light ochre for the concrete, and his signature Cherokee red for the steel. [8]

In discussing architecture as an extension of nature itself, KSD Designer Sid Velamakanni chose the High Line, “a remarkable urban creation that repurposed a previously abandoned rail line into an elevated public green walk, now offering the best views of the city of Manhattan and its architectural marvels.”


The High Line

New York, New York

Architect Involved: Diller, Scofidio + Renfro

Fun Facts: The park was inspired by Promenade plantee in Paris and by 2019, had recorded eight million visitors per year. [6]

Another work of architecture that was designed to fully appreciate a picturesque site is Salk Institute. KSD Design Manager Suchita Shah says, “The institute is unapologetic about its monumentalism - with concrete as a prime material - but I love the wood inlays for warmth and the subtle but clever introduction of water through the site that draws your vision to the beautiful ocean water beyond.”


Salk Institute

La Jolla, California

Architect: Louis I. Kahn

Fun Facts: Jonas Salk, the man who discovered the Polio vaccine and commissioned Kahn to design this biological institute, proclaimed to his architect that he wanted to “create a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso.” [1]

Some feats of design and architecture are those that are closer to home and represent innovation and inspiration. KSD’s CFO Bina Shah chose the NRG building, located in West Windsor just a few minutes from the office. She confesses, “Every time we pass the building I make sure I look at the building and I love it even more.” Bina says her interest stems from the sustainable elements displayed proudly on and around the LEED Platinum certified building, including two wind turbines.


NRG Headquarters

West Windsor, New Jersey

Architect: Jacobs Engineering Group

Fun Facts: The NRG building earned its LEED Platinum certification with the use of a diverse set of energy, water and sustainable site solutions such as the use of solar photovoltaics, solar thermal units, rainwater capture, a green roof and more. The building shell was built mostly of zinc and glass, an environmentally friendly move considering the life cycle costing and relatively small footprint of the zinc material and handling process. [7]


At KSD, we appreciate and are excited to celebrate the achievements of the United States of America! Happy Independence Day to all!


[1]“About Salk Architecture.” Salk Institute for Biological Studies, www.salk.edu/about/visiting-salk/about-salk-architecture/.

[2]“Architecture: Visit the Getty: The Getty.” Visit the Getty, www.getty.edu/visit/center/architecture.html.

[3]“The Breakers.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Dec. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Breakers.

[4]“Category:Vernacular Architecture in the United States.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Mar. 2016, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Vernacular_architecture_in_the_United_States.

[5]“Empire State Building Dedicated.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 24 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/empire-state-building-dedicated.

[6]“Overview.” The High Line, www.thehighline.org/about/.

Saieh, Nico. “The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art / Steven Holl Architects.” ArchDaily, ArchDaily, 30 July 2008, www.archdaily.com/4369/the-nelson-atkins-museum-of-art-steven-holl-architects.

[7]Voices, NRG Editorial. “NRG Princeton Headquarters Awarded LEED Platinum Certification.” NRG Energy, www.nrg.com/insights/innovation/nrg-princeton-headquarters-awarded-leed-platinum-certification.html.

[8]“What Is Fallingwater? - Learn More about Frank Lloyd Wright's Masterpiece.” Fallingwater, fallingwater.org/what-is-fallingwater/.

[9]“Farnsworth House.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 June 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farnsworth_House.

[10]“Glass House.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 June 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_House.

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