Henry Cobb: The Office Tower (1986)
Recorded: October 15, 1986
As “the preeminent monument of the 20th century city,” the office tower can be “a troubling and sometimes a very sorry monument,” observed Henry Cobb, a founding partner of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. In this short excerpt from a 1986 lecture given to The Architectural League, Cobb offers remarks on his efforts to “humanize the tall building and give it the demeanor of a good citizen.” Cobb has sought the placemaking potential of an often private and banal structure that serves primarily as a “beacon of corporate or entrepreneurial achievement,” endeavoring to leverage this investment to “enrich the space of the city, to animate its public realm.”
The lecture was delivered during the famed Game 6 of the MLB 1986 National League Championship Series, in which the New York Mets defeated the Houston Astros in 16 innings to advance to — and then win — the World Series. In her introduction, architect Frances Halsband remarks that the game, then in its 13th inning, is tied 3-3.
This lecture was originally presented as part of League’s 1986 Current Work series.