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Martin Tower

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1972, Haines, Lundberg and Waehler. 1170 8th Ave.

From I-378 south of U.S. 22, Bethlehem's most visible landmark is this black tower that stands northwest of the historic core. Completed in 1972, even as the American steel industry was collapsing, the tower rose as a symbol of Bethlehem Steel's ever more bloated bureaucracy. A decade later, retired CEO Lewis Foy lamented, “We never should have built Martin Tower, because once you build a building you fill it up.” Not long after, the corporation ceased to exist. Architectural decisions made on the tower are as uninspired as the corporate reasoning behind its creation. A cruciform plan to provide numerous corner offices shapes the black steel-clad building; white vertical corners and bay divisions provide at least the suggestion of a soaring skyscraper. But the upward thrust leads nowhere and the building terminates in a blocky mechanical penthouse, a far cry from the magical massing of the New York Telephone Building in lower Manhattan by the predecessor firm of Voorhees, Gmelin and Walker. Like an extruded steel structural shape, the tower is simply sheared off, as if in a crude attempt to limit the proliferation of administrative positions. The building sits in the middle of landscaped parking lots—banal, suburban, and inferior to its urban predecessor, the General Office Building in South Bethlehem ( NO38).

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas
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Citation

George E. Thomas, "Martin Tower", [Bethlehem, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-02-NO28.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 278-279.

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