Campus Units


Document Type


Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress on Construction History



First Page


Last Page


Conference Title

Fifth International Congress on Construction History

Conference Date

June 2015


Chicago, IL, United States


A half-century ago, Eero Saarinen and Associates collaborated with the structural engineers of Ammann & Whitney in the design, documentation, and oversight of two very different, and completely unprecedented, concrete shell projects: Kresge Auditorium (1951-55) and TWA Terminal (1956-62). The building designs were intentionally anomalous from traditional shell projects, particularly in the manner by which they deviated from conventional structural logic of their forms-albeit in very different ways.

Unsurprisingly, the construction challenges for the projects were equally different and profound, requiring a great deal of innovation and collaboration. Design teams had to devise ways to work collaboratively to address the particular challenges of designing, analyzing, documenting, and supervising the construction for these concrete shells.

The paper will examine how the notorious construction complications and the resulting structural failures of Kresge Auditorium led to an evolution in the collaborative design relationship, more thorough and inventive documentation, and the development and integration of a rigorous plan for construction of TWA. By examining original construction documents, construction photos, and correspondence between the firms, the paper will demonstrate how an increased focus on the constructability became a common goal between the two firms and how this resulted in a more technically thorough process of design and construction for TWA, in spite of its more complicated form and elevated technical challenges.


This proceeding is from Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress on Construction History, edited by Brian Bowen, Donald Friedman, Thomas Leslie and John Ochsendorf. Construction History Society of America, 2015.

Copyright Owner

Construction History Society of America



File Format



Article Location