CORPORATE MODERN (1970 - 1990)

Miesian in nature with slick glass curtain walls, Corporate Modern or Slick Skins took hold in the 1950s with more seamless exterior glass sheathing.  The improvements in window technology making this style possible included larger panes, increased strength and the ability to make glass thinner to create curves.  Window assemblies needed smaller clips to place windows and create the smooth surface. It is sometimes difficult to discern the number of floors in a slick skin except when dark and lights are visible.  Like much modern architecture, the desire is to express the structure in its outward appearance.

Primary Stylistic Features
  • Tinted or mirrored glass.
  • Wet and reflective in nature surfaces.
  • Smooth sculptural surfaces.
  • Overall rectangular volumes.
Secondary Stylistic Features
  • Horizontal window bands.
  • Articulated ground floor, often on pilotis.
  • Concrete or exposed aggregate surfaces.
  • Later examples are more sculptural with curved corners.
  • Multi-story examples are prevalent.
  • Indistinguishable division of floors.
  • Building setback on plaza.

Evaluation Considerations

Slick Skins are found throughout Alaska.  Predominantly they are located in business and commercial centers, but can be found in all areas of the state.  Historic Slick Skins will most likely be eligible as a single building.  Slick Skins will be eligible in a district if they exhibit a majority of the primary features and some secondary features.  To be eligible as an individual building Slick Skins must embody all primary stylistic features and some secondary features.  Slick Skins usually take two forms.  The first is smaller in height and more horizontally orientated.  The second is vertically orientated.  Materials and design are key aspects of integrity when evaluating individual eligibility.

For Further Information

Gatz, Konrad. Curtain Wall Construction. New York: Frederick A. Prager, 1967.

Sturdevant, John R. "What Make a Curtain Wall." Progressive Architecture 75, No. 2. 1994.

Morrison, Bill. "Curtain Wall Dynamics." Architecture AIA Journal. 80, No.6 (1991): 112-113.