Thursday 10 May 2012

The Seagram Building

The 38-story Seagram Building, at 375 Park Ave between 52nd and 53rd streets, designed by Mies van der Rohe (the only building he designed in New York) and Philip Johnson, built in 1958, was the seminal curtain-wall skyscraper: deceptively simple and cleverly detailed, with floors supported internally rather than by the building's walls, allowing a skin of smoky glass and bronze metal. This building remains the supreme example of Modernist reason.

The Plaza, an open forecourt was designed to set the building apart from its neighbours and display it to advantage

It was such a success as a public space that the city revised the zoning laws to encourage other high-rise builders to supply similar plazas.

Svenson pink granite was used for the plaza. The plaza was the site of a landmark planning study by American sociologist William H. Whyte. The film Social Life of Small Urban Spaces records the daily patterns of people socialising around the plaza and shows how people actually use space.

another look at that fantastic pool.

The pavement in front of the building and the plaza on the left.

Behind the tower, a six-story pavillion houses the Four Seasons Restaurant which comprises two rooms, the Pool Room and the Grill Room. Between the two hangs this curtain designed by Pablo Picasso for the Ballets Russes, Le Tricorne (1919) which has hung there since the restaurant opened.

This is the Pool Room and its interior has remained unchanged since it opened in 1959.

Mark Rothko was commissioned to paint a series of works for the restaurant in 1959. He accepted the commission and secretly resolved to create "something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room". In the end, hating the restaurant's pretentious atmosphere Rothko returned his commission and kept the paintings for himself. While Rothko worked on his paintings the Four Seasons restaurant rented Jackson Pollock's  'Blue Poles'.

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