Hardback240 PagesSize: 250 × 190 mm
37 colour illustrations and 86 B&W illustrations
ISBN: 9781848224070Publication: April 01, 2021

‘Because of architecture's inexorable presence and visual prominence especially in urban settings, it serves as a powerful means of identity, especially for large corporations. While usually considered a postwar phenomenon, Ong Yan explores the development of the branding concept in architecture by focusing on four case studies going as far back as late 1920s. Building Brands is an illuminating study of a widely used concept and offers a much-needed in-depth analysis.’

  Meredith Clausen, Professor of Art History, University of Washington

‘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, Philadelphia, PA

Building Brands

Corporations and Modern Architecture

Grace Ong Yan


  • Building Brands explores the role of architectural branding
    in the design of corporate modernism and tells how business strategies, modern architecture, urban conditions, and conceptions of society shaped the ambitious branding goals of corporate clients.

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 evolved from Beaux-Arts façades to bold Modernist expressions. This book examines how clients and architects together crafted buildings to reflect their company’s brand, carefully considering consumers’ perception and their emotions towards the architecture and the messages they communicated.

By focusing on four American corporate headquarters: the PSFS Building by George Howe and William Lescaze, the Johnson Wax Administration Building by Frank Lloyd Wright, Lever House by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the Röhm & Haas Building by Pietro Belluschi, it shows how design devices of sign, fame, form and material brought company messages to the public. Drawing on original material from corporations’ archives, Building Brands brings new insights to corporate Modernism by examining how company leaders, together with their architects, conceived of their headquarters not only as the consolidation of employee workplaces, but as architectural mediums to communicate their identities and brands.

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