UNH Professor's Expertise Is the Architecture of Skyscrapers

By Erika Mantz
UNH News Bureau

October 23, 2001

Editors and News Directors:

We offer the following as a story idea you may wish to follow up on for a feature. Professor Andrew can be reached at 862-4693.

DURHAM, N.H. -- The first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1884 by William LeBaron Jenney.

Professor David Andrew, an art historian in the University of New Hampshire's Department of Art and Art History since 1976, teaches modern architectural history and has made a particular study of skyscrapers.

After the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, Andrew says, "I have no doubt skyscrapers will continue to be built. They are an investor's dream come true, but I have great reservations about the skyscraper as a building type. The terrible events of Sept. 11 reminded us how vulnerable these structures are, especially at that scale and with that kind of construction. This would probably be a good time for a review of the practicality and safety of these structures."

Prior to the WTC, skyscrapers employed a steel skeletal frame with columns and girders distributed throughout the entire building. This is true of the Empire State Building, for example, which remained standing after a B-25 accidentally struck it in 1945. But the WTC, designed by Minoru Yamasaki in the mid-1960s, introduced a revolutionary new method for skyscraper construction in which the exterior walls, with their many steel-reinforced concrete columns, did most of the work. The Trade Towers were basically big hollow tubes.

Andrew is especially interested in the skyscraper as a metaphor of institutional and societal value and has published a book on the early skyscraper architect, Louis Sullivan. He can be reached at (603) 862-4693.

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