Lescaze, William, 1896-1969

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Correspondence to Lewis Mumford from William Lescaze and his wife, Mary Lescaze.

From the description of Letters, 1932-1962, to Lewis Mumford. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155871458

William Lescaze (1896-1969) was a Swiss-born American architect, known as one of the pioneers in modernism in American architecture.

Born March 27, 1896 in Geneva, Switzerland, Lescaze studied architecture at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Zurich. He received his Master of Architecture in 1919, went to Paris, and worked briefly in the war-devastated areas of France before coming to the United States in 1920. He became a US citizen in 1929.

Lescaze worked initially for Hubbell & Benes in Cleveland, Ohio, but in 1923 moved to New York City and opened his own firm. In 1929 he entered into partnership with George Howe and established offices in New York and Philadelphia. In 1933 Lescaze married Mary Connick Hughes, with whom he had one son, Lee Adrien. In 1934 he re-established the firm under his own name and directed it until his death in 1969.

Among his earliest workds were a country house/hunting lodge for Comte Jean de Sieyes (Job #220), the nursery for Oak Lane Country Day School (Job #258), and soon afterwards the 33-story Philadelphia Savings Fund Society building (Job #284). In 1933 he designed his own town house and office in East 48th Street (Job #602), and in 1938 the California headquarters of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBC) in Hollywood (Job #515). His work with low-cost housing led to his appointment as senior architect for the Williamsburg (Ten Eyck) houses in Brooklyn (Job #388).

From 1949 to 1959 Lescaze served on the New York State Building Code Commission, and in 1951 he was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

His later work included the City and Municipal Courts Building in Manhattan (Job #1000), the Swiss Chancellery in Washington, DC (Job #1057), the Brotherhood House at 7th Avenue and 40th Street (Job #1108), the Church Peace Center at the United Nations Plaza (Job #1183), the 777 3rd Avenue building (Job #1194), the Chatham Plaza Center in Pittsburgh (Job #1284), the 1 New York Plaza Building (Job #1306), and One Oliver Plaze (Oliver Tyrone Building) in Pittsburgh (Job #1330).

An essay by Christian Hubert written to preface a 1982 exhibition catalog, and which places Lescaze in the history of modern architecture, has been copied as an appendix to this guide.

Lescaze was the author as well as the subjet of numerous essays, articles and reviews in both professional and popular journals. He spoke frequently and appeared on radio broadcasts often. Major early essays include his "A Community Theatre" in Edith J.R. Isaacs' Architecture for the New Theatre (New York, 1935), and his contribution to Augusto Centeno's The Intent of the Artist (Princeton, 1941). His book On Being an Architect appeared in 1942; a copy of this work is available in the Rare Book Collection, as are copies of the two major pieces of Lescaze scholarship to date, namely Lorraine Welling Lanmon's William Lescaze, Architect (doctoral dissertation, University of Delaware, 1979) and William Lescaze, published by the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies and Rizzoli International Publications. (New York, 1982).

From the guide to the William Lescaze Papers, 1915-1969, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Brooklyn Museum. Office of the Director. Philip Newell Youtz records, 1934-38 (bulk), 1928-38 (inclusive). Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn League for Progress in Architecture records, 1937-1939. George Washington University
referencedIn Hart Crane Collection, (1910-1972) Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Herbert Matter papers, ca. 1937-1984 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
creatorOf Meigs, Arthur. Mellor, Meigs & Howe collection, 1915-1975, bulk 1915-1939. University of Pennsylvania, Architectural Archives
creatorOf Lescaze, William, 1896-1969. Letters, 1932-1962, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf William Lescaze Papers, 1915-1969 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Molitor, Joseph W. Joseph W. Molitor architectural photographs, 1935-1985 (bulk 1946-1980). Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Lescaze, William, 1896-1969. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
creatorOf Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe collection, 1929-1969. Aurora University, Phillips Library
referencedIn Matter, Herbert, 1907-1984. Herbert Matter papers, circa 1937-1984. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Lescaze, William, 1896-1969. Correspondence to Paul Philippe Cret, 1938-1941. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Delano, William Adams, 1874-1960. William Adams Delano papers, 1902-1960 (inclusive), 1939-1960 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Lescaze, William, 1896-1969 : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Howe, George, 1886-1955. George Howe papers, 1926-1974, (bulk 1926-1955). Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Edward Corsi Papers, 1918-1968 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Crane, Hart, 1899-1932. Hart Crane Collection (1910-1972). Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn McShain, John, 1898-1989. Papers, 1925-1989. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Howe and Lescaze. William Lescaze : vertical file. Centre canadien d'architecture, | Canadian Centre for Architecture | CCA
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Brooklyn Museum. Office of the Director. corporateBody
associatedWith Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Corsi, Edward, 1896-1965 person
associatedWith Crane, Hart, 1899-1932. person
associatedWith Delano, William Adams, 1874-1960. person
associatedWith Howe, George. person
associatedWith Howe, George, 1886-1955. person
associatedWith Lescaze, Mary. person
associatedWith Matter, Herbert, 1907-1984. person
associatedWith McShain, John, 1898-1989. person
associatedWith Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969. person
associatedWith Molitor, Joseph W. person
associatedWith Philadelphia Saving Fund Society. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Architectural practice
Swiss Americans
Architectural design
Architecture--Designs and plans
International style (Architecture)--United States
Architecture, Domestic--United States
Architecture, American
Architecture--United States--20th century
Architectural firms
Architecture--United States
Architectural drawing--20th century--United States


Birth 1896-03-27

Death 1969-02-09





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