THE SEAGRAM BUILDING
The Seagram Building is a skyscraper at 375 Park Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd street in Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. Designed by Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe with minor assistance from Philip Johnson, Ely Jaques Kahn, and Robert Allen Jacobs. The tower is 515 feet tall with 38 stories. This International Style building with a public plaza, completed in 1958 and initially served as the headquarters of the Seagram Company, a Canadian distiller.
German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the Seagram Building in the International Style. Philip Johnson was the co-architect and the partnership of Ely Jacques Kahn and Robert Allan Jacobs were the associate architects. Numerous consultants were involved in the building's design, including mechanical engineers Jaros, Baum & Bolles; structural engineers Severud-Elstad Krueger; electrical engineer Clifton E. Smith; lighting consultant Richard Kelly; acoustics consultant Bolt-Beranek & Newman; graphics consultant Elaine Lustig; and landscape architects Charles Middeleer and Karl Linn.
Phyllis Lambert, a Bronfman family member and the daughter of Seagram CEO Samuel Bronfman, whose idea it was to develop the building, did not impose a budget on Mies. Lambert said the Seagram Building was supposed to "be the crowning glory of everyone's work, his own, the contractor's, and Mies's". The architects used new or redesigned materials if they believed these innovations provided an improvement over existing products. The design used costly, high-quality materials, including bronze, travertine, and marble.The lavish interior, overseen by Johnson, was designed to ensure cohesion with the appearance of the facade. The Seagram Building was the first office building in the world to use extruded bronze on a facade, as well as the first New York City skyscraper with full-height plate glass windows
The Seagram Building occupies half the site and is recessed 90 feet (27 m) behind Park Avenue. The building's main section is a 38-story slab topped by a mechanical story; it does not include any setbacks. The slab rises 515 feet (157 m) above ground. As planned, the slab measured 95 by 145 feet (29 by 44 m). Along the eastern end of the slab is a narrow shaft with an emergency-exit stair, which is sometimes referred to as the "spine". The spine, which forms part of the building's framework, contains restrooms on the sixth to tenth floor and offices above.
There are two five-story wings east of the main slab, facing 52nd and 53rd Streets. The 10-story central section between the wings is sometimes characterized as a "bustle". As planned, the "bustle" measured 90 by 85 feet (27 by 26 m) while the wings measured 90 by 200 feet (27 by 61 m). The April 1955 edition of Architectural Forum described the relative simplicity of the building's massing as "a no-setback building but a building all set back".
The superstructure is a steel frame covered with concrete and gypsum. At the time, American building codes required that all structural steel be covered in a fireproof material, such as concrete, because improperly protected steel columns or beams may soften and fail in confined fires. The concrete core shear walls rise to the 17th floor, while the diagonal core bracing, with shear trusses, extends to the 29th floor. The structural system also includes steel columns whose centers are 27.75 feet (8.46 m) apart. The Seagram Building's heating and air conditioning systems are divided into two sections: a basement unit serving the 20th story and all floors below, and a roof unit serving the 21st story and all floors above. Ducts for utilities such as electric, telephone, and closed-circuit television cables were embedded into the concrete floor slabs.
The Seagram Building has 849,014 square feet of interior floor space, including three basement stories. Two of the basement levels originally contained a 150-space parking garage, connected to the lobby via its own elevator. As of 2020, the garage was being renovated into a 35,000-square-foot gym. The basements also contain storage, loading platforms, and service areas for the occupants of the first floor.
The building was home to the Four Seasons and Brasserie restaurants, originally designed by Philip Johnson. The restaurant interiors were decorated with numerous artworks. These included the Seagram murals by Mark Rothko, which he claimed were intended to sicken the patrons of the Four Seasons Restaurant, as well as Pablo Picasso's painted curtain Le Tricorne, designed for the Ballets Russes in 1919. By 2017, the building housed three restaurants owned by Major Food Group: the Pool, the Grill, and the Lobster Club. The Pool was merged with the Grill in 2020, though a separate event space called the Pool Lounge continues to operate.
About the Architect
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (March 27, 1886 – August 17, 1969) was a German-American architect. He was commonly referred to as Mies, his surname. Along with Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright, he is regarded as one of the pioneers of Modern Architecture. In the 1930s, Mies was the last director of the Bauhaus, a ground-breaking school of modernist art, design and architecture. After Nazism's rise to power, with its strong opposition to modernism (leading to the closing of the Bauhaus itself), Mies emigrated to the United States. He accepted the position to head the architecture school at what is today the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
Mies sought to establish his own particular architectural style that could represent modern times just as Classic & Gothicdid for their own eras. The style he created made a statement with its extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define interior spaces, as also conducted by other modernist architects in the 1920s and 1930s such as Richard Neutra. He strove toward an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of unobstructed free-flowing open space. He called his buildings "skin and bones" architecture. He sought an objective approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design, but was always concerned with expressing the spirit of the modern era. He is often associated with his fondness for the aphorisms " less is more" and " god is in the details".