Iconic Houses: Lessons Learned on Detailing for Durability

Session Date

April 21, 2021



Matthew Bronski, P.E.



Matthew Bronski, P.E., is a Principal, and the Preservation Technology Practice Leader at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. (SGH), where he has practiced for the past 26 years.  Matthew has led SGH’s projects on many iconic buildings. He has published over a dozen technical papers, and has served as a guest lecturer or critic at numerous universities, including Harvard, MIT, and Yale.  He holds an undergraduate degree in engineering (Tulane), and graduate degrees in architecture (Penn) and historic preservation (Penn).  In 2009, he became only the second engineer in 113 years to receive the prestigious Rome Prize.


Session Description

This presentation will explore how the details of iconic historic and modernist houses have contributed to their durability or lack thereof, and what we can learn from their successes and failures in detailing our own projects for durability.  Topics covered will include window flashings, roof eave edge detailing, roof to wall overhangs, interior to exterior transitions at grade, and overall building forms for improved water management.  Case studies will include the speakers assessment or restoration work on numerous iconic houses, from the 1680, Paul Revere House to iconic mid-century modernist houses designed by Walter Gropius, Philip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright.


Learning Objectives


1.     Attendees will learn the major factors and issue that can cause durability problems.

2.     Attendees will learn to study design drawings to identify what enclosure details are most likely to be problematic in their durability.

3.     Attendees will learn to design these potentially problematic details for long-term durability, while maintaining overall aesthetic goals.

4.     Attendees will review a series of case study example projects of different iconic houses designed by famous architects (e.g., Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, Walter Gropius) that include problematic details, and how to identify and rectify similarly problematic details in renovations and restorations. 








SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610