Principal Thoughts

Ed Messina

Sixty years ago today, on October 4, 1956, Ed Messina joined Severud-Elstad-Krueger, Consulting Engineers, now Severud Associates.  A steward of the firm for most of that time, he was named chairman of the board in 2006.

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Pavilions for the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair

Long before Google became a verb, the word Googie was used as an adjective to describe modernist architecture that was influenced by the mid-20th century’s car culture and golden era of jet travel along with the burgeoning Space and Atomic Ages. The New York World’s Fair that opened in 1964 in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, became a showcase for the Googie style with many eye-catching pavilions that incorporated design elements such as massive cantilevers, upswept roofs, and shapes resembling spacecraft. Fifty-four years ago, in July of 1962, Severud Associates was retained to provide structural engineering services for the Johnson’s Wax Pavilion, a building which reflected the very essence of the Googie style.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art

Known throughout the world for the collections of artwork it houses, the Met is also impressive for its architecture, which has interested people since the museum opened in its Central Park location in 1880. The story begins in 1869 when publisher George Putnam suggested that New York City needed a museum of art. Leaders from prestigious cultural and educational institutions agreed and formed an executive committee to prepare a charter. Several months later, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was incorporated. (more…)

Pepsi-Cola Corporation World Headquarters Building

Memorable slogans such as “More Bounce to the Ounce,” “Gotta Have It,” and “Change the Game” have made Pepsi-Cola, the drink created by Caleb Davis Bradham in North Carolina in 1893, a household name and a popular brand on restaurant menus and store shelves around the country. A surge in sales in the 1950s prompted company executives to commission a new building and in the winter of 1956—nearly 60 years ago—the engineers at Severud Associates decided to “Catch that Pepsi Spirit” and collaborate with architects from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on the design for the Pepsi-Cola Corporation World Headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

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The Jefferson Memorial – Gateway Arch

Seeming to pierce the brilliant blue sky on a sunny day, the magnificent 630-foot-high St. Louis Gateway Arch pays tribute to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, homage to President Thomas Jefferson, and respect to engineering innovation at its best. The story of the arch begins in the early 1930’s when the mayor of St. Louis and a group of community leaders proposed a riverfront memorial to commemorate the city’s role in the westward expansion of the United States. However, it wasn’t until 50 years ago today—October 28, 1965—that the keystone was set to complete the memorial. (more…)

The Campus of Cornell University

Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, offers a rigorous education to myriad students from around the world. In the words of Ezra Cornell, the university was founded as a place where “any person can find instruction in any study.” Starting with just one building in 1868, the main campus where most of this instruction occurs now comprises 628 buildings spread over 2000 acres.

Severud Associates has designed many buildings at Cornell, starting in 1943 when the firm was retained to collaborate with architect Frederick L. Ackerman (a Cornell alum) on a Men’s Sports Building. Since then, Severud Associates has provided structural engineering services for several iconic campus facilities, including the Kennedy Hall and Roberts Hall complex for the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Commissioned in 1984—31 years ago this month—the dramatic building consists of two separate three-story office wings connected by a common fourth floor, which houses the Department of Landscape Architecture. (more…)

JFK Center for the Performing Arts

What does Severud Associates have in common with Leonard Bernstein, Tennessee Williams, Agnes de Mille, and Aaron Copland? All have a place in the history of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower championed the idea of a prominent venue for the arts and in 1958 he signed legislation creating a National Cultural Center. President John F. Kennedy continued to promote the project and led efforts to fund it. In March 1963, Severud Associates was retained to work with renowned architect Edward Durell Stone to design the Center. Congress designated it a “living memorial” to President Kennedy soon after he was assassinated. (more…)

The Crystal Cathedral

In  1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen formed a partnership for a little company they called Microsoft. That same year, Severud Associates—already in business for almost 50 years—was retained to design the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. A dazzling example of architectural and engineering imagination and innovation, the cathedral is shaped like a four-pointed star and its walls and roof are glazed with more than 10,000 panels of tempered glass, all held in place by an intricate frame of inter-connected steel trusses. (more…)

Madison Square Garden

In  September of 1961, sports fans in New York City had lots to cheer about. Yankee outfielder Roger Maris slammed his sixtieth home run to tie Babe Ruth’s record, and the decision was made to retain Severud Associates to design a new home for the Knicks and the Rangers in what would become the fourth arena named Madison Square Garden.

“The World’s Most Famous Arena” has since then hosted countless popular celebrities and famous athletes. Structurally, the Garden incorporates a variety of complex features including the 150-foot high, 404-foot diameter roof. 48 cables extend from an exterior compression ring to a center tension ring and support the largest tension roof of its kind in the world. (more…)

Denver Airport Jeppsen Terminal

In  1989, Colorado’s Stapleton International Airport, originally known as Denver Municipal Airport, turned 60 and faced challenges to its operations that come with age. Fortunately, plans to build a more modern facility were already under way, and Severud Associates was retained to design the long-span roof, glass enclosure systems and curbside canopies for the Jeppesen Terminal at the new Denver International Airport. (more…)