Lescaze, William

Lescaze, William

Lescaze, William, 1896-1969, American architect, born and trained in Switzerland. Emigrating to the United States in 1920, Lescaze became influential in introducing the new European architecture to America. His works emphasized prismatic simplicity, as in his plan for the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society Building (with George Howe, 1930-32) and the CBS studios in Hollywood (1938). His writings include On Being an Architect (1942).
William Edmond Lescaze (Onex, Switzerland, 27 March 1896 – New York, New York, 9 February 1969) was a Swiss-born American architect, and is considered one of the pioneers of modernism in American architecture.

He completed his formal education at the École polytechnique fédérale de Zurich in Zurich, Switzerland, receiving his degree in 1919, and emigrated to the USA in 1920. He worked for some time at the architectural firm of Hubbell & Benes in Cleveland, Ohio, before setting up his own practice in New York City in 1923.

In 1929, Philadelphia architect George Howe invited Lescaze to form a partnership, which was named Howe & Lescaze. Within just a few weeks after joining forces, the duo began work on a large project for downtown Philadelphia. The resulting structure, completed in 1932, was the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS) building, which is today generally considered the first International Modernist skyscraper, and the first International Style building of wide significance in the United States. Lescaze is generally given credit for the design: contemporary letters from Howe to Lescaze quote the former insisting to the latter that "the design is definitely yours." The structure replaced the bank's former headquarters in Philadelphia, a classicist structure near Washington Square built in 1897.

He later taught industrial design at the Pratt Institute (1943-1945). Among his built works were the CBS West Coast studios Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard.

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