building_name = Seagram Building
built = 1957
location = 375
Park Avenue, New York, New York, NY
roof = 515 ft (157 m)
floor_count = 38
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Johnson, Philip
skyscraperpage_id = 2386
The Seagram Building is a
skyscraperin New York City, located at 375 Park Avenue, between 52nd Street and 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan. It was designed by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, in collaboration with the American Philip Johnsonand was completed in 1958. It is 515 feet tall with 38 stories. It stands as one of the finest examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a masterpiece of corporate modernism. It was designed as the headquarters for the Canadian distillers Joseph E. Seagram's & Sons, thanks to the foresight of Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of Samuel Bronfman, Seagram's CEO.
This structure, and the International Style in which it was built, had enormous influences on American
architecture. One of the style's characteristic traits was to express or articulate the structure of buildings externally. [cite web
title=The Architectural Project - Define "high tech detailing"|publisher=
accessdate=2008-01-06] A building's structural elements should be visible, Mies thought. The Seagram building (like virtually all large buildings of the time) was built of a
steel frame, from which non-structural glass walls were hung. Mies would have preferred the steel frame to be visible to all; however, American building codes required that all structural steelbe covered in a fireproof material, usually concrete, because improperly protected steel columns or beams may soften and fail in confined fires. [cite book
title= Handbook of Building Construction
last= Hool & Johnson
pages= 338 of 802 ] Concrete hid the structure of the building — something Mies wanted to avoid at all costs — so Mies used non-structural bronze-toned
I-beams to suggest structure instead. These are visible from the outside of the building, and run vertically, like mullions, surrounding the large glass windows. Now, observers look up and see a "fake and tinted-bronze" structure covering a real steel structure. This method of construction using an interior reinforced concreteshell to support a larger non-structural edifice has since become commonplace. As designed, the building used 3.2 million pounds of bronze in its construction. ["New Skyscraper on Park Avenue To Be First Sheathed in Bronze; 38-Story House of Seagram Will Use 3,200,000 Pounds of Alloy in Outer Walls Colored for Weathering", " The New York Times", March 2, 1956. p. 25]
On completion, the construction costs of Seagram made it the world's most expensive skyscraper at the time, due to the use of expensive quality materials and lavish interior decoration including bronze,
travertine, and marble. The interior was designed to assure cohesion with the external features, repeated in the glass and bronze furnishings and decorative scheme.
Another interesting aspect of the Seagram building regards the
window blinds. As was common with International Style architects, Mies wanted the building to have a uniform appearance. One aspect of a façadewhich Mies disliked, was the disordered irregularity when window blinds are drawn. Inevitably, people using different windows will draw blinds to different heights, making the building appear disorganized. To reduce this disproportionate appearance, Mies specified window blinds which only operated in three positions - fully open, halfway open/closed, or fully closed.
The Seagram Building and
Lever House, which sits just across Park Avenue, set the architectural style for skyscrapers in New Yorkfor several decades. It appears as a simple bronzebox, set back from Park Avenue by a large, open granite plaza. Mies did not intend the open space in front of the building to become a gathering area, but it developed as such, and became very popular as a result. In 1961, when New York Cityenacted a major revision to its 1916 Zoning Resolution, which was the nation's first comprehensive Zoning Resolution, it offered incentives for developers to install "privately owned public spaces" which were meant to emulate that of the Seagram's Building; the following 40 years of development in Manhattandid so with relatively little success.Fact|date=January 2008
The Four Seasons
The building is the location of
The Four Seasons Restaurant, also designed by Mies van der Rohe and Johnson. Its interiors have been maintained as they were when it opened in 1959.
References in popular culture
*In the first episode of 1960s television series "
That Girl", Ann Marie works at the magazine stand in the lobby, which is also the location of the offices of "Newsview Magazine," where her boyfriend Don Hollinger works. The opening credits of the first season show Ann walking north on Park Avenue and walking into the building.
*The building and fountain form a backdrop to a scene in the 1961 film "
Breakfast at Tiffany's".
*In "Company", a
Stephen Sondheimmusical, the protagonist, Bobby, is compared to the building.
James Phelanplaces his fictional Global Syndicate of Reporters (GSR) headquarters in the building. Phelan, once an architecture student at RMIT, cites Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson as two of his favorite designers. Several scenes of the second Lachlan Fox thriller, "PATRIOT ACT", are set in The Four Seasons Restaurant.
*The building was depicted as the headquarters of Fabian, a fictional publishing firm, in the movie "
The Best of Everything (1959 film)".
* [http://www.thecityreview.com/park375.html Architectural history and description]
* [http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Seagram_Building.html Capsule descriptive quotes]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/millennium/m1/muschamp.html Herbert Muschamp's encomium]
* [http://www.fourseasonsrestaurant.com The Four Seasons Restaurant]
* Wolfe, Tom. "From Bauhaus to Our House". Bantam Books, 1981.
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