Gordon Bunshaft, FAIA (May 9, 1909 – August 6, 1990), was an American architect, a leading proponent of modern design in the mid-twentieth century. A partner in the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Bunshaft joined in 1937 and remained for more than 40 years. The long list of his notable buildings includes Lever House in New York, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, and the National Commercial Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
After the success of the Lever House, Bunshaft’s designs continued to feature smooth, glass facades, expressed steel structure and corporate clients, such as the Manufacturer’s Trust Company Building (1954) and the Chase Manhattan Bank Building (1951), both in New York City.
The final stage of Bunshaft’s career took place in Saudi Arabia, where he designed the 2010 AIA Twenty-five Year Award winning Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah (1983), utilizing a grid of tensile tent structures to provide shade both indoors and outdoors to combat the brutally hot climate.
Beineke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
The now iconic building was designed by Gordon Bunshaft. Motivated by the need to control sunlight in order to preserve the library’s fragile holdings, Bunshaft conceived of an exterior of marble panes which, at a thickness of only 3 cm, allowing some light to enter the interior while filtering out damaging rays. These marble panels are set in a gridded frame of light gray Vermont granite and the whole structure is supported by a system of steel trusses hidden within the granite, which transfer the weight of the building to the four concrete pillars at each of its four corners.
About the Author:
Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.