Concept

William Lescaze

Résumé
William Edmond Lescaze (March 27, 1896 – February 9, 1969), was a Swiss-born American architect, city planner and industrial designer. He is ranked among the pioneers of modernism in American architecture. William Lescaze was born in Onex, Switzerland. He studied at the Collège Calvin and at the École des Beaux-Arts, before completing his formal education at the École polytechnique fédérale de Zurich in Zurich where Karl Moser was a teacher, receiving his degree in 1919. He contributed to the post-war reconstruction effort of Arras, and then immigrated to the United States in 1920. He worked for some time at the architectural firm of Hubbell & Benes in Cleveland, Ohio, and taught French at the local YMCA's night classes. In 1923, he was offered a modeling job and moved to New York City where he set up his business. His first major work was the design of the Oak Lane Country Day School outside Philadelphia. After a brief time in New York, he returned to Cleveland. In 1927, he designed the Sutton House Apartments project in New York City. Income from the project allowed him to move back to New York City. In 1929, Philadelphia architect George Howe invited William Lescaze to form a partnership, Howe & Lescaze. Within just a few weeks after joining forces, the duo began work on a large project for downtown Philadelphia. The resulting structure, completed in 1932, was the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS) Building, which is today generally considered the first International Modernist skyscraper, and the first International Style building of wide significance in the United States. It was also the first building with full air conditioning. Lescaze is generally given credit for the design: letters from Howe to Lescaze quote the former insisting to the latter that "the design is definitely yours." The structure replaced the bank's former headquarters in Philadelphia, a classicist structure near Washington Square built in 1897. In 1930, Howe & Lescaze submitted a design for the new building of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
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