The fame of this architect is inextricably linked to the PSFS building, a skyscraper erected in the early 1930s in Philadelphia, in collaboration with George Howe.
Sometimes, the fame of an architect remains inextricably linked to a single building. This happened in the case of William Lescaze (1896-1969) with the PSFS building, a skyscraper erected in the early 1930s in Philadelphia, in collaboration with George Howe (1886-1955). Under construction at the time when Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock were working on the definition of the International Style, the PSFS immediately won him international acclaim. In this building, for the first time in the United States, avant-garde experiments were applied to an American skyscraper, thanks to collaboration between a professional man from Philadelphia – Howe – and a New York architect of Swiss origin – Lescaze. The study the book describes is the result of the author’s post-graduate research conducted in History of Architecture and Town-Planning at the IUAV University in Venice. It analyses the PSFS building in relation to Lescaze’s training in Zurich and his contacts with exponents of the European Avant-garde: the research of the “ABC” group, the first CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d’ Architecture Moderne), the work of Le Corbusier, and Dutch and Russian architecture. His examination of the architect’s contacts in Europe not only throws light on the role of Lescaze in terms of his association with Howe but, more generally, is also useful from the point of view of fitting his work into the architectural scenario of the 1930s. Finally, this research shows to what extent the technological and formal result of the PSFS building is linked to the context of Philadelphia, and how much, on the other hand, is owed to the kind of skyscraper being built in New York at that time, and the “Manhattanism” with which Lescaze and his work are imbued.