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The Evolution of Modern Thin Stone Veneer Systems: 1950-1980

Ripple, Sarah E.

The architectural and technical treatment of stone changed dramatically with the development of Modern architecture and the introduction of stone cladding, which resulted in the departure from stone as a load bearing material. As with every novelty in architecture, thin stone veneer experienced a period of trial and error from 1949-1980, without real precedence or comprehensive understanding of how it would perform. This reduction in stone thickness for cladding purposes required a rethinking of the systems for attachment to the structural framework, materials and detailing, and the stone selection process. Consequently, the Modern architecture movement encapsulates the period of greatest change within stone veneer development. During this time, aesthetic preferences shifted from an architectural tradition based on European architectural styles to the Modern movement. The heavy ornamentation gave way to a very monolithic, spare language, utilizing manmade, repetitive features; the craft aesthetic gave way to the machine. The Modern architecture movement was the first time period when stone was consistently used in one and a half to three inch thicknesses. With the thinning of stone also came a change in the performance of stone; the anchorages, which were established to secure the stone to its substrate, became central to successful performance. The anchors slowly evolved to perform an increased level of adjustment. Additionally, the selection process of stone became ever more important, because the intricacies of the physical properties had a greater effect on thin stone. Finally, moisture control, specifically damp proofing and joint material, and other specifications as we know them today were tested and began development during the Modern architecture movement. These facets of the thin stone veneer system have been presented within the framework of the Modern architecture movement to provide a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of this system. Five stone-clad buildings of Wallace K. Harrison were used to help illustrate the development: The Metropolitan Opera House and Philharmonic Hall, and The Celanese, Exxon, and McGraw Hill Buildings.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Prudon, Theodorus H.
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 7, 2015
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