The ideology of the skyscraper

Professor Joanna Merwood-Salisbury will discuss the complicated history of the early skyscraper.

Inaugural lecture—Professor Joanna Merwood-Salisbury

June 2018

Chicago is often considered the birthplace of modern American architecture, with the image of the skyscraper skyline representing the future of the city.

Professor Joanna Merwood-Salisbury discusses the complicated history of the early skyscraper. From its first appearance in the 1880s, it was the subject of an ideological battle, the symbol of capitalism’s triumph; it was also the target of anti-capitalist protest.

A re-reading of the early skyscraper through the lens of labour and capital relations helps recover the essential instability of the skyscraper as both form and idea, reminding us that these icons of modern architecture were the creation of a tumultuous historical period characterised by uncertainty and agitation.

This is Professor Merwood-Salisbury’s inaugural lecture as Professor of Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington.

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