Obit of the Day: Career Worth “Mullions”
Sometimes a change is made that is so small it makes someone wonder why it hadn’t been thought of before. Anthony Lumsden and Cesar Pelli made one of those changes. They made the decision to turn the dividing lines between windows, called mullions, from the exterior to the interior. By doing this Kumsden and Pelli made it possible to cover skyscrapers in smooth, reflective sheets of nearly unbroken glass. Called the “membrane aesthetic” by Lumsden, the first buildings designed with the new look were the Federal Aviation Administration building (Hawthorne, CA, 1966-1973) and the Century Bank Plaza (Century City, 1966-1969). The wall of glass that Lumsden and Pelli developed now dominates skyscraper architecture in Los Angeles, and around the world.
Lumsden who was born and grew up in Sydney, Australia first worked for Eeno Saarinen, the Finnish architect who designed, most famously, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Although Lumsden designed dozens of buildings during his career, from a pop culture perspective his most influential was the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, above, in Van Nuys, CA. The modern building had enough of a futurisitc look that the producers of the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, used special effects to transform it into “Starfleet Academy,” the educational institution that trained Starfleet officers.
Lumsden died at the age of 83.
(Images: Top, copyright of Tom Hudson/vertigelt on Flickr and bottom, courtesy www.exastrisscientia.org)