Hood, Raymond

GE Building

Added by Myun Song, last update: August 17, 2012, 1:58 pm

GE Building
The GE Building, source: Myun Song, date: Feb. 6. 2011
Location
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY NY 10112
United States
40° 45' 32.508" N, 73° 58' 45.1308" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Commercial (COM)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

National Register of Historic Places - December 23, 1987
National Historic Landmark - December 23, 1987
New York City Landmark - April 23, 1985

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

GE Building is the center piece of the Rockefeller Center. It is impossible to talk about GE Building without its surrounding context in that they were planed all together. Rockefeller Center was built by John D. Rockefeller Jr., son of the founder of Standard Oil. However, he was not involved in the beginning of the development of the site. It was Metropolitan Opera who came to find a new home in the land that was owned by Columbia University. John D. Rockefeller got into the development after Otto Kahn, a patron of the Metropolitan Opera, solicited his help. However, the original plan was never realized because the Depression made the opera group to withdraw from the project. Their departure left Rockefeller with the land where current Rockefeller Center stands. Instead of being discouraged, Rockefeller and John R. Todd, an executive director of the project, came up with the plan for a commercial center. They found a new tenant, Radio Corporation of America (RCA), which is the GE building's former name. The initial plan, which was made when the opera group was expected to come in, did not include a tall skyscraper, although the plan had included the plaza infront of the building. It was Raymond Hood, the famous skyscraper architect, who determined the design of the RCA building. The building resembles some of his previous work, such as the Daily News Building in New York City.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Commission - October 1. 1929 Excavation started - July 1931 Construction started - Jan 1932 Opened to the public - May 1933
Architectural and other Designer(s): Associated Architects: Raymond Hood, Harvey Wiley Corbett, William H. MacMurray, Frederick A. Godley, Jacques Andre Fouilhoux, L. Andrew Reinhard, Henry Hofmeister, Carl Landefeld, George Pauly, Wallace K. Harrison
Others associated with Building/Site: John R. Todd (a developer), John D. Rockefeller Jr., Diego Rivera who painted a mural which was replaced by the work of Jose Maria Sert, Lee Lawrie (sculptor), Paul Manship (sculptor)
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): RCA West Building was added as an extension of RCA Building in 1933. The Sixth Avenue subway was integrated to the RCA West Building in 1940. The West 50th Street freight and trucking entrance was altered to shopfronts in 1935. Alterations were made to a West 49th Street storefront in 1937.
Current Use: Offices, NBC headquarters, restaurants, Top of the Rock (an observatory).
Current Condition: The building is in a good state of repair.
General Description:

The GE Building is a seventy story steel frame limestone-clad skyscraper in the Art Deco style. The building base is clad in Deer Island granite, and the shaft is clad in Indiana limestone with aluminum spandrel panels. The main entrance is marked by Lee Lawrie's limestone and glass sculptural relief. It is roughly rectangular in plan with a maximum width of 190 feet. Its total area is about 2,200,000 square feet and height is 850 feet. It is the center piece of the entire Rockefeller Center, and it met demands for studio, retail and office space for the radio group, the original tenants. The building has distinctive setbacks derived from the principle of providing light and air to all parts of the building.

Construction Period:

July 1931 - May 1933

Original Physical Context:

The original property owner was Columbia University, and this monolithic ownership by Columbia University had preserved the low-level residential scale.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

The GE Building is a steel-frame skyscraper building with masonry cladding exterior curtain wall. It is 10th tallest building in New York City and 33rd tallest in the United States.
The setbacks at the sides of the slab of the GE Building are there not only for aesthetic reason, but also to decrease the number of elevator shafts on the upper floors. In addition, new high speed elevators had just become legal, the architects were able to save about 30,000 square feet reducing the number of elevators. The arrangement at the building provided more than two million square feet of prime office space, distinguishing it for years as the world's largest office building in floor area.
Since the original tenant was the Radio Group, there was soundproofing needed for the building. "In order to ensure soundproofing all the studios were designed with "floating" walls, floors and ceilings suspended and insulated from the building's structural frame."
The architects and managers, especially John R. Todd, set 27 and a half foot principle, which left no more than 27 and a half feet between windows and service areas. The exterior of the building was cut back to the dimensions exacted by this principle, leaving the upper parts unusally slender.
It is noteworthy that its limestone cladding was 8 inch thick from base to the top, which was thicker than 12 inch that was advised by the building code of the time, and it was the first building which cladding was not tapered to the top.

Social:

Rockefeller Center was the only large, non-government architectural project executed between the Great Depression and the Second World War. It not only employed thousands of workers during the Depression, but restored the commerce and image of New York before the economic downturn. The RCA building represented the ideal modern skyscraper in its own metropolis, Rockefeller Center. The influence of the center was great by providing open space to the public as a form of palza, garden and promenade.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The two-story base conciliates between the tall skyscraper and the human-scale plaza and streets. Carefully chosen setbacks give it two very distinctive characteristics. From east or west, the building looks tall and slender, which is visible in its entirety from Fifth Avenue down the Channel Gardens. From north or south, the setbacks are less visible, and give the impression of a tall, broad, flat slab. With its rhythmic setbacks expressing the Cubism, the building was a "hymn to modernity, to a sunny future, to all the scientific wonders that the 20th century encompassed." In style, the building was largely dependent upon Beaux Arts principles of design, but modified by specific tenant needs and the requirement for maximum profit which was desired by John R. Todd, the developer. Its exterior and interior decorations including murals, paintings, mosaic and sculptures are magnificant.
Historical:

The GE Building was the last skyscraper designed by Raymond Hood before his death at age 53. Also, it represented the beginning of the new slab aesthetic that would consequently characterize modern commercial architecture in the Art Deco style. It has served as the prototype for numerous commercial developments worldwide.
According to Le Corbusier, "it is rational, logically conceived, biologically normal, harmonious in its four functional elements: halls for the entrance and division of crowds, grouped shafts for vertical criculation, corridors, regular office." (Bacon, Mardges. Le Corbusier in America: Travels in the Land of the Timid. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2001. 265. Print.)
In his book Space Time and Architecture, Sigfried Giedion pointed out that until construction of RCA Building, skyscrapers in New York City "lacked scale, dignity, and strength, becoming simply towers rising to extreme heights" whitout careful consideration of their surroundings. RCA Building emerged as the new form of the skyscraper following its immediate forerunner Daily Mail Building in New York. (Giedion, Sigfried. "The Civic Center: Rockefeller Center, 1931-39." Space Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008. 847-48. Print.)
In the early 1930s, Lewis Mumford, well known for his study of urban architecture, condemn the Rockefeller Center for its cultural, esthetic, and urban deficiencies as "mediocrity seen thugh a magnifying glass." Also, according to William Jordy, "the mass destruction of blocks of old structures in order to build a compeletly new fabric, however warranted for the Center, has provided a disatrous precedent for other renewal situations. (Pierson, William H., and William H. Jordy. "Rockefeller Center and Corporate Urbanism." American Buildings and Their Architects. New York Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986. 84-85. Print.)
Nevertheless, Rockefeller Center beat the other massive redevelopment "visually, urbanistically, and even theoretically." The center provided the sense of place which its successors could not achieve.

General Assessment:
The RCA Building, now the GE Building, is the largest and most important building of Rockefeller Center. The building is a masterpiece of the Art Deco style which anchors the urban composition of Rockefeller Center, one of the most successful urban spaces in New York City. Its unique shape was derived from carefu consideration of prevailing factors such as interior lighting, use, service requirements, and visual value, which lacked in the previous New York skyscrapers. Although it has never been the tallest building neither in New York City nor in the world, it was the most successful monumental skyscraper to be built in America.
Documentation
Text references:

Rockefeller Center: a Digest of Facts. Ed. Rockefeller Center, Inc. New York: Public Relations Dept., Rockefeller Center, 1979. 15. Print., Krinsky, Carol Herselle. Rockefeller Center. New York: Oxford UP, 1978. 131-32. Print., Adams, Janet, and Marjorie Pearson. "RCA Building." Rockefeller Center Designation Report. [New York]: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1985. 9, 61, 62, 67, 70. Print.,"Guide to Rockefeller Center," RCW, 2 (May 23, 1935), insert 8., Krinsky, Carol Herselle. "The RCA Building." Rockefeller Center. New York: Oxford UP, 1978. 136-37. Print., New York Architecture, comp. "GE Building, Originally RCA Building." New York Architecture. New York Architecture. Web. ., Garrard, Lowe David., and Sylvia Warren. "The Rockefellers' Center." Art Deco New York. New York: Watson-Guptill Publ., 2004. 172. Print., Douglas, George H. "Rockefeller Center: A Festival of Skyscrapers." Skyscrapers: a Social History of the Very Tall Building in America. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland, 2004. 128-38. Print., Bacon, Mardges. Le Corbusier in America: Travels in the Land of the Timid. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2001. 264-65. Print., Giedion, Sigfried. "The Civic Center: Rockefeller Center, 1931-39." Space Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008. 847-48. Print., Pierson, William H., and William H. Jordy. "Rockefeller Center and Corporate Urbanism." American Buildings and Their Architects. New York Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986. 84-85. Print., Lehman, Arnold L. "Rockefeller Center: And Investment In Urban Design." The New York Skyscraper a History of Its Development, 1870-1939. [New Haven, Conn.]: Yale University, 1974. 447. Print.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Myun Song/ Feb.13.2011
Additional Images
GE Building
The GE Building, Source: Myun Song, date: Feb. 6. 2011
GE Building
The GE Building, Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:GE_Building.jpg, date: 19. Oct. 2005

Bryant Park Hotel

Added by Caitlin vonHedemann, last update: October 14, 2011, 9:47 pm

Bryant Park Hotel
Exterior view on West 40th Street, facing Bryant Park, source: S. Caitlin vonHedemann, date: March 2, 2010
Location
40 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
United States
40° 45' 10.0404" N, 73° 59' 1.7124" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Commercial (COM)
Secondary classification: Residential (RES)
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

Office building and showroom space for the American Radiator Company.

Dates: Commission / Completion:1923-24
Architectural and other Designer(s): Raymond Hood
Others associated with Building/Site:
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Extension: J. Andre Foulihoux, 1935-6; Alteration: David CHipperfield and William Tabler, 2000
Current Use: Hotel
Current Condition: Very Good
General Description:

The American Radiator Building is a neo-gothic skyscraper of the early Art Deco movement. Its color, arrangement and night-time lighting scheme evokes the product its namesake s company built: radiators. Built in two phases, both the original tower and shorter side extension are made of the same materials: black granite, black brick with black pointing, and gold-glazed terracotta. It is a steel frame building with cast iron and plate glass storefront on the bottom level, originally housing a multi-story radiator and plumbing showroom.

The 26-story tower of the original building steps back at the fifth and fifteenth story, marked by double gold courses. The side building addition includes the same decoration at the fifth story with two stories of brick above capped by another crenallated gold course. The tower itself, due to its chamfered corners and side courts on the fifth level, sits free from the surrounding structures. Windows are paired on the front facade with wider bricks piers traveling the height of the building to the upper setbacks. The gold courses and parapet are detailed with sculptured corbels and gothic ornament in gold terracotta. Small gold towers sit like finials atop the rounded corners on many levels of the parapet and gold horizontals line the top stories. The spiky mass is ultimately peaked by a completely golden crown-like loggia. Even in its early years, the top floors of the American Radiator Building were lit by electric light, whereby the pairing of the gold ornament and black brick made the tower look almost ablaze.

Construction Period:

brick, terracotta

Original Physical Context:

The American Radiator Building sits prominently amidst a section of the city that is rife with skyscrapers. Its visibility on the park aside lower scale buildings and unique coloring allows it to stand out.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

The steel framing used in the American Radiator is typical of the skyscraper construction of this period. Its use of various external cladding materials, brick, granite, and terracotta, was not uncommon on corporate structures of this scale. The colors of this materials, however, were novel, and emphasizes the availability of variant color schemes in this period. Brick manufacturers were producing pigmented brick in multiples shades. Terracotta had also been in use for decades, though more often its color was matched to the other materials.

The practice of lighting the top floors of the structure marks this building as technically advanced. The skyscraper profile was an important piece of the design and the practice of night-lighting, used to enhance its prominence. Between its color scheme and lighting, the American Radiator Building was a major feature of the skyline, both easily spotted and identified. Its nighttime display was popularized by a 1927 Georgia O’Keefe painting titled ”American Radiator-Night, New York.”

Social:

As a corporate office tower that included the company showroom, the American Radiator Building was built with specific functions and goals in mind. Raymond Hood was known as one of the best corporate architects. “He excelled at monumentalizing what was inherently nonmonumental, at creating commercial monuments that were symbols as well as working environments.” (Stern, New York 1930, 575) The showroom attracted business owners of supply stores looking for products to source to their stores, home owners outfitting their homes in the latest fashion, and builders completing new buildings. Hood even designed some radiator covers for the company and rented out office space in the floors above. It was meant as a symbol of American modernity.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The American Radiator Building was received as a new type of architecture which served as advertising. Its lantern-like pinnacle gave a progressive face to the American Radiator Company. The building helped shape New York’s Art Deco movement. With its chamfered corners, setback arrangement and side courts, this building was known as a new form, one which detached itself form surrounding structures and sat on its own within a block. This massing, along with its coloring, speaks to its aesthetic impact on the city and the rest of the Art Deco movement.
Historical:

The American Radiator Building is a local New York City individual landmark and is included in most textbooks on American modern architecture. It is an Art Deco skyscraper with gothicizing motifs, and one of the many modern skyscrapers that used pinnacles and towers in their design.

General Assessment:
Documentation
Text references:

Black Brick Building for New York City. The New York Times. January 20, 1924. Page RE1.
Radiator Firm to Build 5-Story Midtown Offices. The New York Times. March 24, 1936. Page 41.
Stern, Robert A. M. , et al. New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. (1987). New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. Bussel, Abby. Checking In. Grid. (2000). Volume 2, issue 6, page 98-102. Breeze, Carla. American Art Deco. (2003). New York: W. W. Norton & Company
Stephens, Suzanne. AR Past and Present: From Corporate Ad to Chic Caravansery. Architectural Record. (2006). Volume 194, issue 2, page 212.
Kittinger, Margaret. Something Old, Something New. Oculus. (2007). Volume 69, issue 1, page 38-43.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: S. Caitlin vonHedemann / March 29, 2010

Daily News Building

Added by BZay, last update: October 14, 2011, 11:20 pm

Daily News Building
Exterior view with New York City skyline, source: The Carnegie Arts of the United States Collection, date: unknown
Location
220-226 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
United States
40° 45' 1.4652" N, 73° 58' 23.5776" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Commercial (COM)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

National Historic Landmark, National Park Service, 1989
City of New York Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1981 and 1998

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

Initially, the plan for the Daily News headquarters was to construct a printing plant with some room for offices. However, due to the land value in the area, the company decided to maximize profit and build an office tower for lease. In 1928, Daily News founder Joseph Medill Patterson formed a building committee that comprised experts in construction, real estate, building management, and newspaper operations, and left them to the task of collaborating with architect Raymond Hood to put together a sound proposal. The group worked together to find the best ratio of usable floor area to the total area, as well as the most economically efficient use of space. Hood was particularly interested in the theories and work of Le Corbusier and saw beauty in utilitarian design and function. His vision was that of large towers rising up amidst parks and broad avenues. As such, he sought to erect buildings using only a portion of the land area that they occupy. The Zoning Resolution of 1916, which permitted 25% of a plot’s land area to extend vertically as high as was desired and practical, fell perfectly in line with his vision. Hood’s original intention was to construct a 3-story base from which a tower would project skyward. However, due to financial objections by Patterson, the 3-story base was denied and Hood had to come up with another way to achieve the tapering effect he desired. His initial 3-story base was enlarged to 9 stories, and the tower was modified using setbacks instead of a uniformly straight design. Hood convinced Patterson to decrease the building’s volume on the west façade by 25 feet in order to create an open alley on that side. The alley would allow the building to have space on all sides, and hence fulfill his vision of a freestanding tower. He made his argument by citing the economic advantage of a building in which all the rentable spaces had proper air circulation and light penetration provided by windows (the developments of air conditioning and artificial light would not take place until several years later). Without them, the spaces created on the west side would have been loft spaces, which would bring in lower rents. Because of the building’s freestanding position and the necessary experimentation with massing, Hood hired architectural sculptor René Chambellan to work on plasticine models that would reflect his plan more effectively than drawings. In this medium, Hood was able to easily cut away and add sections to the building in the schematic process, as well as portray his final concept with utmost efficiency and dimensionality. Though Patterson had reservations about the monumentality and extravagance of Hood’s tower, he approved the design in 1928. The newspaper would later defend the building’s design to critics of the Modern movement who despised its simplistic form.

Dates: Commission / Completion:1928/1930
Architectural and other Designer(s): Overall design: Raymond Hood, of the firm of Hood (Raymond), Fouilhoux (Andre) & Howells (John Mead); architectural sculptor: René Chambellan; lobby display design: James H. Scarr; globe engineer: Peter Clark, Inc.; globe painter: D. Putnam Brinley
Others associated with Building/Site: Founder of the Daily News and owner of the building: Joseph Medill Patterson
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): The 1957-1960 (e) expansion, designed by architects Wallace K. Harrison and Max Abramovitz of the firm Harrison & Abramovitz, was completed under the direction of the then Daily News president and publisher F.M. Flynn. Turner Construction Company was in charge of carrying out its construction. The addition consists of 5 stories on the printing plant, an 18-story wing on the east side, and a lobby expansion. The objective of the addition was to add space, rather than implement a new aesthetic idea. Hence, the exterior additions are in keeping with the details on the original façades, and the lobby was simply extended to its east side. The lobby’s decorations, such as bronze detailing and scientific display cases, were extended in order to create continuity.
Current Use: Owned by SL Green Realty since 2003. The studios and offices for the tri-state area TV station WPIX are located within the building, as is the smooth jazz station WQCD. The Daily News moved its headquarters to 33rd Street in the mid-1990s.
Current Condition: Good
General Description:

The building, which measures 125 feet on the East 42nd Street frontage and 275 feet deep to 41st Street at the base, consists of an office tower rising 36 stories (476 feet) and a printing plant originally rising 9 stories that are connected to form an L shape. The building has a steel frame and its exterior is made up of vertical piers of white vitreous brick, window spandrel panels of dark red and black patterned brick, and red window shades to match the spandrels. The use of brick cladding represented one of the most economical ways to enclose a building at the time. The vertical columns of windows, which are double-hung and made of painted steel, emphasize the building’s verticality and provide its only ornament. The most distinctive aspect of the exterior envelope is the series of asymmetrical setbacks that make up the building’s massing. On the north façade, there is one setback two bays deep at the 9th floor and one at the 33rd floor, where the outer two bays are inset one bay. On the west façade, there are two setbacks at the 9th floor – one at two bays from the north edge and the other at ten from the south edge. The 11th and 12th bays from the southern edge then rise to the 15th floor and at that point are pulled back two bays. The effect of this façade is a zig-zag pattern of setbacks and massing. The southern façade has one-bay setbacks at the 7th and 13th floors, and two-bay setbacks at the 27th and top floors. On the east façade, the seven bays from the northern edge project forward until the 33rd floor, where they level with the building plane. There are no setbacks on the printing plant portion of the building, and its decoration is similar to the tower. However, the window bays are grouped in threes with wider brick piers.

Patterson allotted $150,000 for the building’s ornamentation, which Hood decided to devote nearly 100% to the 3-story limestone entrance on the 42nd Street side. The entrance contains a bas-relief depicting the people of New York City with a background of skyscrapers. The Daily News Building is at the forefront and the sun’s rays are emanating from the top of it. The inscription at the top reads “THE NEWS” and at the bottom, in smaller print, “HE MADE SO MANY OF THEM.” On the western façade, there is another inscription in a granite slab, which reads:
HOME OF THE NEWS
“THIS NEWSPAPER ALWAYS WILL
BE FEARLESS AND INDEPENDENT.
IT WILL HAVE NO ENTANGLING
ALLIANCE WITH ANY CLASS
WHATEVER – FOR CLASS FEELING
IS ALWAYS ANTAGONISTIC TO THE
INTEREST OF THE WHOLE PEOPLE.”

JOSEPH MEDILL PATTERSON – FOUNDER
JUNE 26, 1919

The lobby, which opened to the public on July 23, 1930, is one of New York’s most dramatic lobby spaces. The original space designed by Hood is circular and is enclosed in the addition designed by Harrison & Abramovitz, completed in 1960. The dome was designed to evoke the expanse of outer space, with the globe positioned partially below the floor level in a stepped down pit, to further emphasize the room’s expansiveness and circular shape. Around the lobby’s curving walls are maps and charts displaying science and weather information. Visitors are oriented within by a compass placed on the floor and bronze lines showing the distance to various other world cities. The interior lighting fixtures, bronze components, and elevator doors were all designed in the Art Deco style. The space is divided into two sections: the rotunda, which is accessible by the main entrance on East 42nd Street, and an elevator lobby connected to the rotunda by a series of hallways. Due to the crowds that flocked to the rotunda in its early years, another entrance was created on the western side to alleviate traffic.

Construction Period:
Original Physical Context:

When the Daily News purchased the lot on East 42nd Street, the area, which was then called the Upper East Side, was only beginning to be developed. It was filled with old buildings that were modest in scale and reminded one of a much smaller city than New York’s downtown. According to a Daily News article announcing the acquisition of their site, several other office towers were in the planning stages. As this section of the city was burgeoning, the value of the land demanded the maximizing of space. It was because of this fact that the economic advantage of leasing space to other tenants justified the addition of an office tower to the newspaper’s printing plant.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Hood was adamant in his opposition to the common building practice of placing structural columns in the middle of office spaces. He demanded the engineers to find an alternative way to configure the steel framing so as to achieve the aesthetic effect of completely open interior space. The plan resulted in columns forming unequal distances to the outside walls with the girders remaining the same length. The columns were off center, but structurally sound. This created a revolutionary structural configuration that allowed for the columns to be hidden within the walls.

Social:

Hood sought to create distinctive and symbolic buildings that would make an impact on the city’s built environment and represent the intentions and characteristics of his clients. The American Radiator Building, Hood’s first skyscraper in New York City, employed a bold color scheme that made it instantly recognizable and impressive. For the McGraw-Hill Building, Hood installed eleven foot letters at the top of the building spelling out the company’s name, turning the building into one large advertisement. For the Daily News Building, Hood designed a building whose stark simplicity and massing, as well as its tourist attraction lobby, would grab the city’s attention. At the time of construction, many critics despised the exterior appearance of the building, but revered its lobby.

The Daily News was the first tabloid newspaper to catch on in the United States. Its first incarnation, the Illustrated Daily News, hit New York newsstands on June 26, 1919. It was geared toward “the common people” of the city and tended to sensationalize the news with big pictures and short text, as well as emphasizing gossip rather than conventional news stories. By 1925, the paper had changed its name to The Daily News and was New York’s largest and most highly circulated. Its “common” audience tactic had clearly worked, so the newspaper displayed its proud motto in the building’s most prominent location – the entrance. The depiction of the people of New York City amidst their built environment further emphasized the paper’s interest in reaching the widest audience. The inscription “He made so many of them” was, according to Patterson, inspired by a quote by Abraham Lincoln regarding God’s love for the common man.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
Of the five skyscrapers that Hood designed in New York and Chicago, the Daily News Building was his first that was fully modernistic and freestanding. The top floor of the building’s tower was one of its most revolutionary characteristics at the time of its unveiling. In order to conceal the service and water shafts, Hood chose to extend the walls above, which creates the effect of the building’s top being simply chopped off. This particular feature showcases the drastic departure from Hood’s previous affinity for the Gothic style, in which Gothic ornament was employed heavily at the tops. The Daily News Building’s use of setbacks to achieve both a tapering effect and compliance with the Zoning Resolution, as well as its alley to create open space on all sides, also signify Hood’s interest in the Modernist aesthetic. The irregularly placed setbacks represent a design choice, but their exposure and lack of continuity also emphasize a certain display of functionality. The creation of open space on all sides of the building is a direct experiment of the theories of Le Corbusier, whose writings on the efficiency of urban tower environments clearly inspired Hood in his work with skyscraper design.
Historical:

The Daily News Building contributed in several ways to the designs of other buildings and to the Modernist movement nationwide. For his design of the RCA Building (1931-1933), Hood repeated the massing used for the Daily News Building. He insisted that the use of such massing had to do with the zoning laws, yet his masterful employment of setbacks is what made his designs distinctive. The “razed” roof concept employed in the Daily News Building was also repeated at the RCA Building and others, and Hood’s open alley solution to air and light circulation on all sides was also copied for other structures. At the time it was constructed, the building’s exterior was considered a blight on the skyline by many critics, including novelist Ayn Rand, who opined that it was the ugliest building in the city. As with most architectural appreciation, the building has come to represent the style and progressive theories of its time. As such, it has been designated a landmark on both the city and national registers. Our modern admiration for the Daily News Building provides it with a distinguished place in the history and cultural heritage of New York City, for its aesthetic contributions of both its interior and exterior.

General Assessment:
Documentation
Text references:

Contemporary American Architects: Raymond Hood. New York: Whittlesey House, A division of the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1931.
Fletcher, Tom. “New York Architecture Images – Daily News Building.” New York Architecture Images – HOME. 04 Mar. 2009
Kilham, Walter H. Raymond Hood, Architect: Form Through Function in the American Skyscraper. Architectural Book Publishing Co., Inc., New York: 1973.
"Le Corbusier." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 04 Mar. 2009 .
Lehman, Arnold. "New York Skyscrapers: The Jazz Modern Neo-American Beautilitarian Style." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series 29 (1971): 370.
Lockley, Walt. "Daily News Building." Walt Lockley. 04 Mar. 2009
Pelli, Cesar. "Skyscrapers." Perspecta, The MIT Press 18 (1982): 140.
"Property Profile Overview." Buildings Information System. New York City Department of Buildings. 04 Mar. 2009 .
"Raymond Hood." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 04 Mar. 2009 .
Robins, Anthony W. Daily News Building Landmarks Designation Report, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation List 145, LP-1049: 1981.
Robins, Anthony W. Daily News Building Interior Landmarks Designation Report, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation List 290, LP-1982: 1998.
Shapley, John. "Architecture in New York." Parnassus 1 (1929): 3-8.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Barbara L. Zay/March 4, 2009

McGraw-Hill Building

Added by Emilie, last update: October 14, 2011, 11:12 pm

McGraw-Hill Building
Exterior view with New York City skyline, source: The Carnegie Arts of the United States Collection, via ARTstor (http://www.artstor.org/artstor/ViewImages?id=8jNTaD4kJDgpQi0%2Ff, date: unknown
Location
330 West 42nd Street
New York City, NY 10036
United States
40° 45' 27.09" N, 73° 59' 29.7204" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Commercial (COM)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

Architect Raymond Hood of Hood, Godley & Fouilhoux was commissioned by James H. McGraw, then president of McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, to design and construct a single building in which to house all the facets of the organization. Prior to construction, the company headquarters was housed primarily in a twelve-story building at 469-473 10th Ave. The publishing company filled the space to capacity and had even added a thirteenth floor to try and accommodate their needs but the building proved inadequate. Additionally, other divisions of the operation were located in the Penn Terminal Building at 370 Seventh Ave. It was important to McGraw to consolidate the organization under one roof. Client Driven Factors: This commission required housing for all the activities of a large publishing company including printing, binding, shipping, editing, and business. McGraw-Hill was a fast growing company that needed flexibility in design that would allow their company’s various divisions to evolve. Hood opted for what was essentially a large loft designed to house all of the company’s publishing functions. The typical floor was simply a large open space that provided flexibility for the company’s varying needs. Elevator banks were in the center and egress and restrooms arranged to maximize light exposure to the floors. Hood maximized light from all directions and at all times by creating the prominent horizontal bands of windows that wrap around the entire structure alternating with smooth, simple, and unbroken blue-green terra cotta bands. The blue-green color that famously envelops the building was considered blue to the architects and green to the client. It was not clear whether this design scheme was an aspiration of Hood to which McGraw did not object, or if there had to be some persuasion between architect and client. Designing buildings of a single, bold color was both a practice and an aspiration for Hood. The site bought by McGraw for the building was larger than the company needed and architect and client both agreed to reserve 130’-0" on the 42nd Street side for future development. Hood later suggested that if he had used the entire site the resulting building would have been low and squat.

Dates: Commission / Completion:1930-1931: The site was bought in May 1930 and it is thought that McGraw approached Hood at the same time. Construction began in December 1930 and was completed by October 1931 when McGraw-Hill moved the company into the new building.
Architectural and other Designer(s): Architects: Raymond Hood, J. Andre Fouilhoux
Others associated with Building/Site: James H. McGraw, then president of McGraw-Hill; Starret Bros. and Eiken, Builders; Bob Carson, an artist with a good sense of color, was set up across the street in an office from which he directed the placement of the colored terracotta blocks by use of a prearranged set of hand signals.
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): No building additions, significant alterations, or demolitions are known. 1981 (e): Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) gives a special permit to cantilever “Boomerang”, a large metal sculpture by artist Owen Morrel, from the 32nd floor. 1997-99 (a): Deco Tower Associates begins a $3 million dollar façade restoration supervised by Façade Maintenance Design (FacadeMD). Extruded, crazed, and broken terra cotta blocks were replaced. Color analysis was carried out by Integrated Conservation Resources to ensure replacement blocks would match the original as closely as possible. Additionally, the metal window surrounds were repainted green. Façade MD also supervised the “new steel substructure for the parapet walls, to allow proper aeration and provide concealed waterproofing” according to their documentation on the project. 1998 (e): As part of the restoration, “Boomerang” is removed, despite artists objections, due to concern that its deterioration had become a safety hazard. The sculpture is dismantled and either junked or recycled.
Current Use: McGraw-Hill is entirely used as an office building and is owned by Deco Tower Associates. When Deco bought it in 1979 from Group Health Inc., it had been practically empty for nearly a decade because of the city’s fiscal crisis, poor management and the negative association with the Midtown West neighborhood. McGraw-Hill moved their operations to 1221 Avenue of the Americas in 1971. Group Health Inc. is still a large tenant within the building occupying around 5000 square feet.
Current Condition: The McGraw-Hill Building is in good condition. On its surface, the building appears very dirty, the blue tiles almost black. This is due undoubtedly to automobile pollution from the extremely high volume of cars and buses that travel the 42nd Street corridor daily.
General Description:

The McGraw-Hill building is a thirty-four-story building containing 567,000 square feet of floor space. The building site is situated between 41st and 42nd Streets between 8th and 9th Avenues on a lot approximately 130’ wide by 197’ deep. The main entrance is located at 330 West 42nd St. Setbacks on the north and south elevations occur on the 11th, 16th, 32nd, and 34th floors. Views from the east and west give the impression of a stepped tower, but these elevations are a single plane with no setbacks. Eleven-foot high letters that spelling “MCGRAW-HILL” crown the building, which help to hide the buildings water tower tanks and utility spaces. The building’s four facades are visually composed of alternating horizontal bands of double hung windows and blue-green terracotta blocks. These exceptional and distinguished horizontal bands of glazing and masonry have come to uniquely identify the McGraw-Hill building as Hood’s most innovative—and possibly most controversial—architectural design. At its roots, the exterior was simply a frank reflection of the interior configuration, itself a reflection of the company’s needs. The continuous bands of windows were a functional solution to the need for copious amounts of light, extending them from desk height to as close to the ceiling as building code would allow. Between the bands of windows Hood opted for simple, unbroken lines of blue-green terra cotta. Horizontal curving bands of green and blue enameled steel separated by narrow chrome bars flank the recessed five-door-wide entranceway. The interior lobby is simple and faced in solid green enameled steel panels. McGraw-Hill’s design is considered to be a blend of the Moderne, Art Deco and International Styles.

Construction Period:

The 34-story building is a steel frame construction with extruded terra cotta cladding. Federal Seaboard Terra Cotta Corporation in South Amboy, NJ, manufactured the original terra cotta that contained interlocking mortar clinched joints. The crowning sign announcing “MCGRAW-HILL” is composed of hand-made hollow terra cotta blocks. Bands of windows wrap the building with breaks between them reflecting the vertical steel columns. Seemingly endless, these ribbon windows are actually groupings of four double-hung windows with metal panels between them painted dark green to appear uninterrupted. The lower floors were designed and braced for factory use, reinforced to withstand the vibrations and weight of the presses. Upper floors were 12-feet tall and used for processing, clerical and corporate offices as well as additional rentable space.

Original Physical Context:

McGraw-Hill sits on what is now one of the most commercially dense areas of New York, a hub for transportation and business just west of Times Square on 42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. The building spans the block from the north side of 41st Street to the south side of 42nd Street. To the east is the massive Port Authority Bus Terminal complex that extends to 8th Avenue. To the west of the building is the Times Square Station Post Office, which was originally part of the land bought by James H. McGraw with the anticipation of building an expansion at a future date. In 1951, this western portion, which remained unbuilt, was sold and the post office was constructed. Midtown West, now the site of many skyscrapers, offices and high-rise residential buildings, was until recently relatively underdeveloped and considered highly undesirable and dangerous by most New Yorkers. At the time of construction, Midtown West—also known as Hell’s Kitchen—was a low-rise, high-density residential and manufacturing area and its reputation as sleazy and perilous contributed to McGraw-Hill’s long-term isolation. Although separated from the Midtown hustle, west of 8th Avenue offered inexpensive land while maintaining proximity to Grand Central and Pennsylvania stations. Additionally, zoning laws restricted factory functions between 3rd and 7th Avenues. The isolated site ensured that the McGraw-Hill structure would dominate the skyline as it did for nearly fifty years. New high-rise construction in the immediate area of McGraw-Hill over the past decade has ended the reign of the “Green Giant” as the sole dominator of the western horizon line. The New York Times Tower (Corner of West 41st St and 8th Ave) stands to the south at 52-stories though the building is over 800 feet tall, The Orion (350 West 42nd St.) just to the west at 58-stories is separated only by the post office, and plans to develop a tower over Port Authority threaten to all but obscure McGraw-Hill from the skyline.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

It was aesthetically important that the blue-green glazed terra cotta blocks be smooth and uniform. To create a smooth surface on the block, ground up bits of terra cotta biscuit were introduced into the clay, minimizing the clay block’s tendency to change shape when fired. The sheer quantity and size of the terra cotta units required for Hood’s design necessitated the use of mechanically produced extruded blocks. An order of this magnitude, at that time, was the most zealous application of this material in architectural history. The rapidity offered by machine-extrusion allowed terra cotta to compete to some extent with similar advancements in metal and glass. Hood’s choice of terra cotta cladding demonstrated that terra cotta was compatible in modern, high-rise construction. However, production at that level also created a far greater margin for error in color variations and quality control. Blocks for McGraw-Hill had to be grouped on site based on their hue ranges of blues and greens so as to make color transitions as seamless as possible. In his design decisions Hood, already a pioneer in establishing a precedent for skyscraper design with the Tribune, Radiator, and Daily News building, further stretched the current perception of how verticality could be defined and represented in a skyscraper. Visually, the building is a layering of floors with repeated horizontal emphasis.

Social:

Divisions of the McGraw-Hill Company were originally intended to occupy of eighty percent of the building. The remaining space was intended for office rental. The Skyscraper as an architectural expression still had no definitive form, style, and composition and was still being experimented with and finessed. This form-in-flux is epitomized in the Gothic Chicago Tribune Tower, which is also iconically where Raymond Hood achieved international fame. The skyscraper was also an urban architectural declaration of corporate success and power. The McGraw-Hill Building was both emblematic of McGraw-Hill’s corporate success and the freedom architects like Hood had in skyscraper design. Hood was fascinated by the relationship of color in how we perceive architecture, and was a featured architect in the Architectural and Allied Arts Exposition in 1927. He was quoted then as saying that New York of the future would consist of “gayly colored buildings…enlivened by the drastic change of color schemes.” He believed entire buildings would have one distinct color, not just architectural embellishments. The McGraw-Hill buildings removed location offered a unique opportunity to design a building that would be viewed unobstructed from 360 degrees.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
McGraw-Hill is a streamlined building whose aesthetic potency is in its horizontality and use of bold use of color rather than ornamental detail. There are differing accounts regarding who was responsible for choosing the blue-green color scheme. According to the architects, they toyed with practically every color of the rainbow before settling on what they considered a blue schema. The terra cotta cladding was designed to be a darker blue at the base and gradually lighten as the building rose until “it finally blends off into the azure of the sky...” An account of James H. McGraw’s perspective states that McGraw was presented with colored terra cotta samples and that he emphatically insisted on green, above objections from others who were in favor of black with orange trim. In further opposition, McGraw is quoted as saying “There’s too much Princeton around here!” referring to his sons enthusiasm for Princeton University whose colors are black and orange. Halfway through construction, McGraw was reportedly surprised and disgusted by the green building and remarked to one of his associates, “Who picked that color?” In addition to colored terra cotta glaze, the metal windows were painted an apple green color and stripes of vermilion were used selectively throughout the building, such as on the top jambs of the windows. Narrow horizontal bands of blue on every window shade were Hood’s intent to further accentuate the horizontality. Originally, the green color scheme was continued throughout the interior down to the elevator operator uniforms. The color green had been studied by experts was believed at the time to be the most restful for office workers’ eyes. The building has two distinct profiles. From the east or west, the setbacks are viewed as wide broad steps that narrow the building as it ascends. But viewed from the north or south, the appearance is of a large, uniform slab: a classic design of the International Style. As they had for the American Radiator and Daily News Buildings, Hood and Fouilhoux insisted the design profile for McGraw-Hill was the result of zoning laws and economic requirements although these same requirements were at play with both previous buildings but yielded vastly different buildings.
Historical:

Initial reaction to McGraw-Hill was mixed. It inspired debate not just about its aesthetic merits but also into what style it was categorized. In 1931, the New Yorker called the color “a rather dispiriting grayish-green tile” and disapproved of its horizontality. On the other hand it stated approvingly that the building was “austerely free from any architectural ornament”. Alfred T. North in 1932 wrote: “Lacking all the earmarks of historical architecture, this building is running the gauntlet of criticism.” The Washington Post in 1934 printed “Form Follows Function” in which the author writes that McGraw-Hill and its clean-cut contours is the supreme example of Raymond Hood’s genius and that it is a machine-age building that “was builded for a modern age of glass and steel.” McGraw-Hill is considered an example of the International Style of architecture, as defined by Hitchcock and Johnson. The building envelope corresponds with their principles of volume and of exterior rhythm and regularity reflecting the supporting elements found beneath the façade. McGraw-Hill was chosen in 1932 by Hitchcock and Johnson as the only building from New York City to be a part of The International Style exhibition. It was one of only four buildings chosen from the United States and the only terra cotta building in the exhibition. Hitchcock and Johnson assert that it “marks a significant turning point in skyscraper design.” The concurrently published book The International Style says this about McGraw Hill: “The lightness, simplicity and lack of applied verticalism mark this skyscraper as an advance over other New York skyscrapers and ring it within the limits of the international style…The regularity approaches monotony except for these set-backs, which are determined by legal requirements rather than by considerations of design. The heavy ornamental crown is an illogical and unhappy break in the general system of regularity and weights down the whole design.” As the International Style became increasingly more prominent throughout the world, McGraw-Hill’s importance increased as being the first American example. By 1936, the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company had come to accept and relish this characterization. In the revival of interest in Moderne and Art Deco, historians have also claimed McGraw-Hill as a creation of Moderne and Deco. No matter how you group it, the building revolutionized notions of material use, verticality, color, and simplicity as they applied to skyscrapers. Among architectural scholars, McGraw-Hill is undeniably considered one of the most influential skyscrapers of all time.

General Assessment:
McGraw-Hill is one of the most iconic skyscrapers in New York. It bridges the Moderne, Art Deco, and International Styles. It is representative of advances in technology and modern movements toward simple, frank architectural expression. McGraw-Hill stands up as one of Raymond Hood’s boldest designs, expressive of his desire to unite color and architecture.
Documentation
Text references:

HITCHCOCK, Henry Russell, and Philip JOHNSON. The International Style. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated, 1995.
KHAN, Hasan-Uddin. International Style, 1925-1965. Los Angeles: TASCHEN, 1998.
KILHAM, Walter H. Raymond Hood. Boston: Architectural Book Company, Incorporated, 1973.
TUNICK, Susan, “The Evolution of Terra Cotta: ‘Glazing New Trails’”, APT Bulletin, Vol. 32, No. 4 (2001), pp. 3-8.
TUNICK, Susan. “The Reign of Terra Cotta in the United States: Enduring in an Inhospitable Environment, 1930-1968”, APT Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 1 (1998), pp. 43-48.
ROBINS, Anthony W. McGraw Hill Designation Report, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Designation List 127, September 11, 1979.
GRAY, Christopher, “Streetscapes/The Old McGraw-Hill Building; A Color-Filled Restoration of a Colorful Skyscraper”, The New York Times, March 14, 1999. “The Sky Line”, The New Yorker, July 25, 1931, pp. 38-39.
DOLKART, Andrew S. The McGraw Hill Building, National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination, June 1979.
GOLDBERGER, Paul. "Green Building Is a White Elephant: Awkward Location A Brash Design A Shocking Green Sold in 1970 Architectural Heritage. " New York Times, 3 Nov. 1973, pp 31.
“M'GRAW-HILL GETS BIG BUILDING SITE: Publishing House Buys Larkin Plottage in West 41st and 42d Streets. TALL PLANT MAY BE BUILT Property Occupied by Score of Old Houses First Intended for 110-Story Tower”, (1930, May 30). New York Times, 37.
SPECTER, Michael. "A Big Void Left By McGraw-Hill Fills Up at Last: Void Left by McGraw-Hill Fills Up", New York Times, 13 Sep. 1981.
MATTHEWS, Henry. “The Promotion of Modern Architecture by the Museum of Modern Art in the 1930s”, Journal of Design History, Oxford University Press, Vol. 7, No 1 (1994), pp. 43-59.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Emilie Evans, March 4, 2009
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