Theses Master's

Cladding the Mid-Century Modern: Thin Stone Veneer-Faced Precast Concrete

Yoon, Sarah Sojung

With significant advancements in building technology at the turn of the twentieth century, new building materials and innovative systems changed the conventions of construction and design. New materials were introduced and old materials continued to be transformed for new uses. With growing demand after WWII forcing further modernization and standardization and greater experimentation; adequate research and testing was not always pursued. Focusing on this specific composite cladding material consisting of thin stone veneer-faced precast concrete – the official name given at the time – this research aims to identify what drove the design and how did the initial design change over time. Design decisions and changes are evident from and identified by closely studying the industry and trade literature in the form of articles, handbooks/manuals, and guide specifications.

For this cladding material, there are two major industries that came together: the precast concrete industry and the stone industry. Literature from both industries provide a comprehensive understanding of their exchange and collaboration. From the information in the trade literature, case studies using early forms of thin stone veneer-faced precast concrete are identified, and the performance of the material over time is discussed. This cladding material seems to appear on the US market generally in the 1960s and 1970s. Three fundamental questions were asked: 1) What were the designs and how did they evolve over time; 2) what kind of issues or failures came about; and 3) what measures were taken to address them; 4) what changes were made to mitigate future failures?

Technical design decisions are dependent on physical performance of the individual materials and the interaction between the two. Other conditions such as economy, client demand, and architectural trends influence those decisions. As the architecture from this era now enters into the realm of preservation, it is important to understand and assess the historical and technical context and background of this composite material and system in order to allow for informed choices to be made regarding preservation strategies.


  • thumnail for YoonSarah_GSAPPHP_2016_Thesis.pdf YoonSarah_GSAPPHP_2016_Thesis.pdf application/pdf 5.13 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Prudon, Theodore
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 24, 2016