Flowers ’96 Examines the Politics and Power of Building 3 NYC Skyscrapers

Book by Benjamin Flowers '96.

Book by Benjamin Flowers '96.

In Skyscraper: The Politics and Power of Building New York City in the Twentieth Century (University of Pennsyvania Press), Benjamin Flowers ’96 explores the role of culture and ideology in shaping the construction of skyscrapers, as well as the way wealth and power have operated to reshape the urban landscape. He studies closely the creation and reception of three major architectural sites: the Empire State Building, the Seagram Building, and the World Trade Center.

Flowers wrote his new book using a broad array of archival sources, such as corporate records, architects’ papers, newspaper ads, and political cartoons. He reveals how architects and their clients employed a diverse range of modernist styles to engage with and influence broader cultural themes in American society, such as immigration, the Cold War, and the rise of American global capitalism. He also considers the personal, political, cultural, and economic agendas that motivate architects and their clients to build higher and higher.

Flowers teaches architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: