The strategy of structure: Architectural and managerial style at Alcoa and Owens-Corning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Alcoa Building (1953) and Fiberglas Tower (1969) exemplify "architecture parlante", literally buildings that speak of their function and meaning. They said - in steel, aluminum and (fiber)glass - this is who we are; this is what we do; this is how we do it. They provided prestige, visibility, and a sense of collective identity. Alcoa and Owens-Corning intended their signature buildings as larger than life advertisements for their signature products. The executives who commissioned them also expected the buildings themselves to reflect, and reinforce, new management styles. In the early 1990s, Alcoa and Owen-Corning commissioned new headquarters buildings that reflected a new management style thought to be appropirate for an emerging era of the flat organization and the 'networked corporation'. Like their predecessors, these buildings sent an unmistakable message about management priorities. The buildings - outside and in - helped bring the organization, and the organizational chart, to life, both symbolically and pragmatically. Read carefully, a signature building can be a revealing corporate memoir.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863-902
Number of pages40
JournalEnterprise and Society
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • History

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