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When Nathaniel Owings died, the Washington Post wrote that the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was his finest creation. SOM is, however, but one piece of an extraordinary career. Gordon Bunshaft called Owings a “mere salesman,” yet Bunshaft’s career depended on Owings’ ability to “get the job.” Though little known, Owings’ work as an early environmentalist and preservation-minded urban planner are of equal interest. Who, then, was Nat Owings––huckster or visionary? How he combined both qualities reveals much about American life and architecture in the twentieth century.

Speaker: Nicholas Adams, Mary Conover Mellon Professor, Art Department, Vassar College

Nicholas Adams is the Mary Conover Mellon professor in the Art Department at Vassar College where he has taught architectural history for the past 30 years. He has also taught at Lehigh University, Columbia University, and Harvard GSD. He is the author of books covering topics as broadly separated as Italian sixteenth-century military architecture, Gunnar Asplund’s Law Court addition in Gothenburg, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Adams was the curator of two recent exhibitions at Vassar College and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library covering architectural books. He is currently writing a biography of the architect Gordon Bunshaft (1909–1990). Adams serves on the publication committee of the Italian architectural magazine Casabella, where a number of his essays have appeared.

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Organized by
Center for Architecture
  • Sponsored by
Monday, 3/26
6pm to 8pm
Center for Architecture
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