Special tour of Gordon Schenck’s architectural photography


College of Design associate professor Russell Flinchum leads a special tour of the exhibition An Engineer’s Eye: The Architectural Photography of Gordon Schenck in the D. H. Hill Library Exhibit Gallery on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 11:00 a.m.

No tickets are necessary for the free, public tour, but pre-registration is required.

Drawing upon a substantial collection on deposit in the NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center, An Engineer’s Eye celebrates the unique compositional approach Schenck became known for, situating his subject in time and place, harnessing light and shadow, opacity and reflection to reveal a building’s form, seeking unexpected vantage points that integrated the structure with its surrounding environment. These are core tenets of Modernism, and many of the Southeast’s notable mid-century modernist homes are among the photographs on display. The exhibit has been extended into fall 2018.

“Schenck, in my mind, had an almost unrivaled ability to present an unfolding architectural scene in the best possible light (both technically and in terms of illustrating its appeal),” Flinchum says. “Seeing his images of the Crystal Cathedral brought back my earliest days as a design historian with delight…and speaks to his important role as a documentarian of these buildings when they were ‘alive.’ That this is only a fraction of almost 80 linear feet of material shows the richness of our Special Collections.”

Born in Greensboro in 1927, Schenck had always been passionate about architecture, and as a student in the late 1940s, the study of architecture and engineering were still highly integrated disciplines at NC State. That changed dramatically in 1948 with the establishment of the School (now College) of Design under the leadership of its first dean, Henry L. Kamphoefner. Kamphoefner would infuse the School’s culture with the Modernist aesthetic and teaching methods brought across the Atlantic by European masters Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. Many graduates and faculty of the program would become Schenck’s future clients.

Flinchum has taught at the College of Design since 2013. Working with collector Ralph Meyer, he recently completed a revised history of the telephone designs credited to Henry Dreyfuss to be published in the upcoming issue of Winterthur Portfolio.