IBM Aerospace Building [1964]

Eliot Noyes

Imagery: Eliot Noyes in the Age of American Modernsim

IBM’s Aerospace Building represents much more than its unassuming computer punchcard façade would suggest it demonstrated a mobilisation of the credo that ‘good design is good business’. Eliot Noyes, architect and former industrial design curator at MoMA was hired as the company’s ‘curator of corporate character’ and tasked with generating a consistent design language for the corporate behemoth. This was to extend throughout the company via its graphics, products and built architectures – and signified a new age where art and business were to be seen as mutually inclusive. Noyes assembled a supergroup of creatives including Charles and Ray Eames (designers of IBM’s exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair), Paul Rand (creator of the famous stacked-stripes IBM logo) and Eero Saarinen (designer of IBM’s Rochester facility) who were all tasked with the implementation of this new, bold design philosophy. Noyes was not merely a task manager: he himself helmed the iconic Selectric Typewriter and the Aerospace building (designed in collaboration with A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons) stands today as a Modern classic with its glazed box on piers wrapped in a concrete skin revealing much of the ethos learnt from Walter Gropius.

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