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American Architecture. Lever House Skyscraper Essay

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Updated: Feb 14th, 2022

Lever House is a curtain wall skyscraper built in Midtown Manhattan in 1952. It was designed by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois, who belonged to Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. The building features an uninterrupted glass curtain with no functional windows, keeping the elements out while providing plenty of natural light. The curtain was made out of tinted glass to resist heat, making Lever House comfortable to be in even with no actual windows. The building towers 307 feet above the street level and includes a public courtyard and, as of the early 2000s, a restaurant. Lever House has been renovated to update its design with modern regulations in mind, and replace its declining components to preserve the original architects’ vision.

The design epitomizes the instinct of corporate America to dodge regulations. The 1916 Zoning Declaration stipulated that the buildings had to have step-shaped setbacks in order not to dominate the landscape. Lever House capitalized on the provision that if the building occupied a quarter of its lot or less, the setbacks were not necessary. That is why the sheer vertical slab protrudes out of a much broader base and goes up uninterrupted. Lever House is an exemplary glass tower that captured Midtown Manhattan’s shift from masonry to skyscrapers. It is a perfect example of modern architecture, which inspired many similar buildings across the world.

The building was constructed for Lever Brothers, now commonly known as Unilever, an international corporation that manufactures a wide range of products. At the time, its primary interest in America was selling soap, which may be the reason the design of a glass tower was selected. The building featured custom window-cleaning equipment that used Lever Brothers products. The regularly-cleaned glass curtain advertised the quality of the product with the pristine cleanliness of the glass.

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IvyPanda. (2022, February 14). American Architecture. Lever House Skyscraper. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-architecture-lever-house-skyscraper/

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IvyPanda. "American Architecture. Lever House Skyscraper." February 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-architecture-lever-house-skyscraper/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "American Architecture. Lever House Skyscraper." February 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-architecture-lever-house-skyscraper/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'American Architecture. Lever House Skyscraper'. 14 February.

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