Building Brands Book Launch: Grace Ong Yan | DesignPhiladelphia

Building Brands Book Launch: Grace Ong Yan

Building Brands Book Launch: Grace Ong Yan

Friday, October 16, 2020
5:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Virtual Event hosted on Big Marker


Sponsored By


[Caption: Building Brands: Corporations and Modern Architecture book cover, Author: Grace Ong Yan, Ph.D., Published by Lund Humphries, UK: October 2020, US: February 2021]

"Well-illustrated and meticulously researched, Grace Ong Yan’s Building Brands explores new terrain in architectural history… Each case study is a story refreshingly and convincingly told, drawing upon archival and secondary material, revealing how advertising and branding strategies mediate the design of buildings and are an essential part of their history and meaning." -David Raizman, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Drexel University

Join Grace Ong Yan for the book launch of Building Brands: Corporations and Modern Architecture, published by Lund Humphries and released on October 30, 2020.

The event will consist of a book talk by Grace Ong Yan, followed by a moderated Q&A with William Whitaker, Curator and Collections manager of the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design.  

Grace is an architectural historian whose scholarship explores alternate theories of modernism, intersections of media and the built environment, and interdiscplinary collaborations. She serves as Assistant Professor of Interior Design at Thomas Jefferson University in East Falls. In addition to Building Brands, she is the co-editor of Architect: The Pritzker Prize Laureates in their own Words, 1st and 2nd editions, published by Blackdog and Levanthal. As an architect and interior designer, Grace practiced architecture and interior design at Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, and Gensler's 585 Branding Studio. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, M.Arch. from Yale University, and B.Arch. from the University of Texas at Austin.  

She will discuss her new book, Building Brands, which examines how clients, architects, and designers together crafted buildings to reflect the company’s brand, carefully considering consumers’ perception and their emotions towards the architecture and the messages they communicated. She will reveal new insights of two great modern Philadelphia buildings, PSFS and Röhm and Haas, as architectural brands.  

Between the Stock Market Crash and the Vietnam War, American corporations were responsible for the construction of thousands of headquarters across the United States. Over this time, the design of corporate headquarters was largely transformed from reserved Beaux-Arts facades to bold modernist expressions. Today, as you walk by these buildings, their formidable massings and glazed faces reveal little of the careful consideration for how consumers perceived them, the emotions they elicited, the messages they communicated, and how clients, architects, and designers crafted the company’s brand—new insights to the study of modern architecture that Grace Ong Yan reveals in Building Brands.   

As the first in-depth book to explore the role of branding in the design of corporate modernism, Building Brands re-tells the stories of four corporate headquarters in the context of both business and architectural history: the PSFS Building by Howe and Lescaze, the Johnson Wax Building by Frank Lloyd Wright, Lever House by SOM, and The Röhm & Haas Building by Pietro Belluschi and George M. Ewing Co. Based on corporate archival materials, Ong Yan details the intertwined development of architecture, advertising, and branding from the late 1920s to the 1960s. Building Brands contributes to the ongoing revision of modernism and provides an invaluable perspective of architecture and design in mid-century American modernism.