CURTAIN WALL (1945 - 1975)

Curtain Wall is a dominant building style in Alaska. The style in Alaska was widespread in the 1950s and 1960s. In many cases the exterior curtain wall was a prefabricated system used to hang windows and exterior sheathing. The sheathing varied significantly from porcelain enamel panels to exposed aggregate to stone veneers. Curtain Wall buildings are often found in commercial, institutional, educational, and government buildings of a variety of sizes. Oftentimes, stylistic components will be incorporated into period buildings. The style evolved into the popular Corporate Modern style buildings of the 1980s.

Primary Stylistic Features
  • Simple geometric forms, often rectangular.
  • Curtain wall.
  • Rectangular massing.
  • Metal skeleton that expresses the building’s structure.
  • Flat roof.
  • Prominent use of glass.
  • Lack of contexualism.
Secondary Stylistic Features
  • Spacious interiors that create a sense of openness.
  • Asymmetrical composition.
  • Lack of ornamentation.
  • Colored ceramic glass panels.

Evaluation Considerations

To be considered for individual eligibility, a Curtain Wall property must exhibit the curtain wall metal skeleton that expresses the building’s structure, flat roof, and prominent use of glass as well as other primary and secondary stylistic features.  Furthermore, the building should exhibit some unique design elements that separate it from other area examples.   Curtain Wall style buildings may also be eligible as parts of a mixed use district.  To contribute to a district, Curtain Wall buildings should still exhibit the curtain wall metal skeleton that expresses the building’s structure.

For Further Information

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

Kaskel, Bruce. "The Metal and Glass Curtain Wall" CRM Magazine. 1995.

Terry, J.G. "Architectural Primer for Porcelain Enamel: Pacific Architect & Builder. February 1956.