|Architectural style||International Style|
|Location||375 Park Avenue|
|Roof||516 ft (157 m)|
|Floor area||849,014 sq ft (78,876.0 m2)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Philip Johnson|
|Structural engineer||Severud Associates|
The Seagram Building is a skyscraper at 375 Park Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd Streets, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The integral plaza, building, stone faced lobby and distinctive glass and bronze exterior were designed by German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Philip Johnson designed the interior of The Four Seasons and Brasserie restaurants. Kahn & Jacobs were associate architects. Severud Associates were the structural engineering consultants. The Seagram building was completed in 1958.
The building stands 515 feet (157 m) tall with 38 stories, and it is one of the most notable examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a prominent instance of corporate modern architecture. It was designed as the headquarters for the Canadian distillers Joseph E. Seagram & Sons with the active interest of Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of Samuel Bronfman, Seagram's CEO.
Prominent German-American Internationalist architect Mies van der Rohe was given an unlimited budget by Seagram's heiress Phyllis Lambert. This structure which resulted, and the 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. It was a style that argued that the functional utility of the building's structural elements when made visible, could supplant a formal decorative articulation and more honestly converse with the public than any system of applied ornamentation. 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. 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. 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 1,500 tons of bronze in its construction.
|Smarthistory - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building|
On completion in 1958, the $41 million construction costs of Seagram made it the world's most expensive skyscraper at the time, due to the use of costly, high-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 feature of the Seagram Building is 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 38-story structure combines a steel moment frame and a steel and reinforced concrete core for lateral stiffness. The concrete core shear walls extend up to the 17th floor, and diagonal core bracing (shear trusses) extends to the 29th floor.
According to Severud Associates, the structural engineering consultants, it was the first tall building to use high strength bolted connections, the first tall building to combine a braced frame with a moment frame, one of the first tall buildings to use a vertical truss bracing system and the first tall building to employ a composite steel and concrete lateral frame.
The Seagram Building and Lever House, which sits just across Park Avenue, set the architectural style for skyscrapers in New York City for several decades. It appears as a simple bronze box, set back from Park Avenue by a large, open granite plaza. Mies intended to create an urban open space in front of the building, despite the luxuriousness of the idea, and it became a very popular gathering area. In 1961, when New York City enacted a major revision to its 1916 Zoning Resolution, 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 Building.
The Seagram Building's plaza was also the site of a landmark planning study by William H. Whyte, the American sociologist. The film, Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, produced in conjunction with the Municipal Art Society of New York, records the daily patterns of people socializing around the plaza. It shows how people actually use space, varying from the supposed intent of the architects.
The building was home to famed restaurants The Four Seasons, designed by the architects, and Brasserie, by Diller + Scofidio. It now hosts three restaurants, all of which are owned by Major Food Group: The Grill, The Pool, and The Lobster Club.
Joseph Seagram sold the building in 1979 to the New York City-based Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association for $70.5 million in 1979. It was in turn sold at the height of the new millennium real estate boom to New York City Aby Rosen for $375 million in 2000.
The plaza and fountains are the featured grounds in the buildup to the final scene of the 1961 film Breakfast At Tiffany's, as Paul (George Peppard) tries with all his might to win the heart of Holly (Audrey Hepburn).
In the first scene of the 1959 film, The Best of Everything, Caroline (Hope Lange) is reading a "Help Wanted - Female" ad in the paper which shows the real-life address of the Seagram's Building in front of which she is standing and later goes to work.
The building is seen in Showtime's House of Lies.
The building is seen in the movie Hitch.
In the poem "Steps" by Frank O'Hara, featured in his famous book of poetry Lunch Poems, the poet mentions the Seagram Building, saying that it's "no longer rivalled in interest/not that we need liquor (we just like it)".
Media related to Seagram Building at Wikimedia Commons