Seagram Building

Infobox Skyscraper
building_name = Seagram Building

built = 1957
use = Office
location = 375 Park Avenue, New York, New York, NY
roof = 515 ft (157 m)
top_floor =
antenna_spire =
floor_count = 38
floor_area =
elevator_count =
architect = Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Johnson, Philip
skyscraperpage_id = 2386

The Seagram Building is a skyscraper in 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 Johnson and 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=
] 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 steel be 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
publisher= McGraw Hill
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 concrete shell 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 façade which 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 plaza

The Seagram Building and Lever House, which sits just across Park Avenue, set the architectural style for skyscrapers in New York for several decades. It appears as a simple bronze box, 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 City enacted 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 Manhattan did 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 Sondheim musical, the protagonist, Bobby, is compared to the building.
*Novelist James Phelan places 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)".

External links

* [ Architectural history and description]
* [ Capsule descriptive quotes]
* [ Herbert Muschamp's encomium]
* [ The Four Seasons Restaurant]


* Wolfe, Tom. "From Bauhaus to Our House". Bantam Books, 1981.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Seagram Building — Localisation Localisation Midtown, Manhattan, New York Coordonnées …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Seagram Building — Das …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Seagram Building — High rise office building in New York City (1958). Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, this sleek Park Avenue skyscraper is a pure example of a rectilinear prism sheathed in glass and bronze; it took the International Style… …   Universalium

  • Seagram — Building Seagram (vollständiger Name Seagram Company Ltd.) war ein großer in Montréal (Kanada) ansässiger Mischkonzern. Das Unternehmen war seinerzeit der weltweit größte Spirituosenhersteller und expandierte gegen Ende seines Bestehens in die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Seagram Company — Seagram (vollständiger Name Seagram Company Ltd.) war ein großer in Montréal (Kanada) ansässiger Mischkonzern. Das Unternehmen war seinerzeit der weltweit größte Spirituosenhersteller und expandierte gegen Ende seines Bestehens in die Branchen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Seagram — For the rapper Seagram, see Seagram Miller Infobox Defunct Company company name = Seagram Company Ltd. company slogan = fate = Broken up, assets sold successor = Vivendi, Pernod Ricard foundation = 1857 defunct = 2000 location = Montreal, Quebec… …   Wikipedia

  • Seagram Company Ltd. — Formerly the world s largest producer and marketer of distilled spirits. The company began when Distillers Corp., Ltd., a Montreal distillery owned by Samuel Bronfman, acquired Joseph E. Seagram & Sons in 1928. The new company, Distillers Corp.… …   Universalium

  • building construction — Techniques and industry involved in the assembly and erection of structures. Early humans built primarily for shelter, using simple methods. Building materials came from the land, and fabrication was dictated by the limits of the materials and… …   Universalium

  • building — buildingless, adj. /bil ding/, n. 1. a relatively permanent enclosed construction over a plot of land, having a roof and usually windows and often more than one level, used for any of a wide variety of activities, as living, entertaining, or… …   Universalium

  • Seagram Museum — The Seagram Museum in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada was the city s final operational remnant of the world renowned distillery founded by Waterloo entrepreneur Joseph E. Seagram in the mid 19th century.The museum operated from May 1984 to March 1997.… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.