CBS Headquarters: A Modern Concrete Skyscraper

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CBS Headquarters: A Modern Concrete Skyscraper

August 15, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT

Join us on August 15 at 6p.m. ET for a talk by Matthys Levy, founder of WAI, Consulting Engineers, about their work on the CBS corporate headquarters, known as Black Rock, and its comparison to contemporary towers in New York and other US cities.

Designed in 1960 and completed in 1965, the CBS corporate headquarters was New York’s first concrete office tower. Architect Eero Saarinen envisioned a sober granite-clad monolith—rising from a sunken plaza on a full Midtown block on Sixth Avenue from 52nd to 53rd Streets—a form that contradicted the modernist paradigm of the gleaming glass boxes of Park Avenue. The engineer Paul Weidlinger likewise defied the standard approach of steel-frame construction and proposed a structure of reinforced-concrete columns, based on his experience in Washington D.C. and his background in France and La Paz, Bolivia.

Matthys Levy—who as a young engineer worked with Weidlinger on Black Rock and later became a founder of WAI, Consulting Engineers, which 2015 became a part of Thornton Tomasetti—served as structural design engineer for hundreds of building and bridge projects. Among them are the Rose Center for Earth and Space; the Javits Convention Center; and the Marriott Marquis Hotel, all in New York City; the Georgia Dome in Atlanta; La Plata Stadium in Argentina; and the World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Levy is author of a series of classic books on structural engineering: Why the Wind Blows: a History of Weather and Global Warming and co-author with Mario Salvadori of Why Buildings Fall DownStructural Design in ArchitectureEarthquakes, Volcanoes, & Tsunamis; and Engineering the City: How Infrastructure Works, with Richard Panchyk. He is also a novelist. His first novel, a thriller, Building Eden, was published in 2018. His second, the dystopian HEAT: A Tale of Love and Fear in a Climate-Changed World, was published in 2022 and this summer seems more forecast than fiction.

This program is the fourth in a series of events called “In Situ” which looks at towers that relied on concrete for their structure.

You can learn more about the series here:


August 15, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT


The Skyscraper Museum
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The Skyscraper Museum
39 Battery Pl
New York, NY United States
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