At the beginning of the twentieth century, commercial buildings in the United States were being demolished within as little as five years. Histories of modern architecture have started their accounts with the development of the large U.S. office building before, but Daniel M. Abramson begins his new narrative with their destruction, and with a novel body of research into the office building as real estate and tax liability. This first chapter—which locates the invention of the concept of obsolescence—introduces a book that concludes with obsolescence's seeming nemesis, sustainability. It is a fine dialectic, Abramson shows, since the two paradigms do not so much oppose one another as address...

You do not currently have access to this content.