Starrett-Lehigh: The Evolution of a Neighborhood Icon

Virtual Event


John Kriskiewicz

Image details

Discover the story of West Chelsea and one of its most iconic yet enigmatic structures, the 1931 Starrett-Lehigh Building, in this rare behind-the-scenes (virtual) expedition.  

Heralded as a triumph of efficiency and daring structural innovation, its place in the history of modern architecture was secured by its inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art’s 1932 “International Style” exhibition. The building’s advanced vertical and horizontal circulation systems allowed all weather access by railroad, auto and truck…making this pioneering high rise factory as convenient as a single-story facility. “Every Floor a FIRST FLOOR!” proclaimed a rental brochure from the thirties.

Survey the decades long transformation of this early 20th Century industrial icon into its current role as an evolving center of post-industrial 21st Century innovation, while considering the history and parallel development of the surrounding West Chelsea neighborhood.

Starrett-Leigh’s original, innovative, designed flexibility allows every floor to be whatever a tenant imagines it to be today, and into the future. Explore the varied worlds of this 19-story, block long landmark and the neighborhood in which it resides during this special virtual presentation.

The presentation will be led by architectural historian John Kriskiewicz. John holds an architecture degree from Pratt Institute. He is an associate member of the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter and a retired associate adjunct professor at Parsons School of Design, where he taught courses pertaining to architectural and planning history. As an architectural historian, he has curated and designed exhibits on architectural history and urban planning, and frequently conducts tours exploring New York’s architecture and infrastructure. His published writings include articles in The New York Times, Architectural Record, and Yale School of Architecture’s publication Constructs. He has a special affinity for midcentury modern architecture, as seen in his contribution to the 2015 documentary MODERN RUIN: A World’s Fair Pavilion.


Tuesday October 27, 2020
6:00 - 7:00 pm Eastern
The half-hour presentation will be followed by a Q&A session

$10 general public
Free for Docomomo US members (become a Docomomo member HERE), CSI members, Starrett-Lehigh building tenants, and students (must provide valid ID or documentation)

Advance registration required

Organized by Docomomo US and sponsored by a Humanities New York Vision Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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