Empire State Building
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Architect Shreve, Lamb and Harmon
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Location New York, New York   map
Date 1931   timeline
Building Type commercial office tower, skyscraper
 Construction System steel frame, stone cladding
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style low-key Art Deco
Notes 102 floors, 1252 feet, 381 meters high. Effective use of setbacks to emphasize tower.


Photo, Manhattan overview

Photo, from a distance along Fifth Avenue

Photo, from a distance





Detail Drawing

Section Drawing



Section Drawing

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Discussion Empire State Building Commentary

"Standing in lonely dignity in the midriff of Manhattan, a sentinel by land, a reassuring landmark by air, the Empire State Building is the quadri-faced pharos of the city. And until outstripped by the twin towers of the World Trade Center (1975), its 102 floors were the highest in New York. Though designed at the end of the so-called Art Deco period in the 1920s, when zigzagged appliques were prominent, its exterior shows little of the frippery characteristic of that 'decorated' period. It is, moreover, one of the very few skyscrapers with four facades, not just one facing the avenue.

"Zoning required several setbacks, but these were given a skillful buildup of scale at the lower levels, while the tower itself rises unflinchingly. Indented setbacks in the center of each of the long sides help lateral scale. An observation platform and a pylon topped by a television transmission antenna crown all."

— from G.E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. p152.

"The architectural, commercial, and popular success of the Empire State Building depended on a highly rationalized process, and equally efficient advertising and construction campaigns. Skillful designers of Manhattan office buildings, architects Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon were familiar with the imperatives of design and construction efficiency that maximized investors' returns by filling the building with tenants as soon as possible. ...

"The Empire State Building, like most art deco skyscrapers, was modernistic, not modernist. It was deliberately less pure, more flamboyant and populist than European theory allowed. It appeared to be a sculpted or modeled mass, giving to business imagery a substantial character..."

— Edward W. Wolner, in International Dictionary of Architects and Architecture, Randall J. Van Vynckt, editor. Volume 2, p963-964.


102 floors
1252 feet (381 meters) high
Tallest building in the world when it was completed, surpassing the Chrysler Building.
Tallest building in New York except for the World Trade Center towers.

Built in just 16 months.


350 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York

Sources on Empire State Building

Modern Marvels : Empire State Building . Modern Marvels, 1994. VHS-NTSC format video tape. ISBN 6303257488. — Video - Available at Amazon.com alternative title

"Collision in New York, 1945", by Mitchell Pacelle, ArchitectureWeek No. 73, 2001.1031, pN1.1.

Irwin Clavan. "The Empire State Building, IX. The Mooring Mast", Architectural Forum. February 1931. Volume 54 Number 2. p229. drawing of artist's conception of the activities to be carried on in the mooring mast, p231.

Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1702.050. PCD.2260.1012.1702.049. PCD.2260.1012.1702.048. PCD.2260.1012.1702.047

Sir Banister Fletcher. Sir Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture. 18th ed., revised by J.C. Palmes. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975. ISBN 684-14207-4. NA200.F63. photo, p1224. — The classic text of architectural history. Expanded 1996 edition available at Amazon.com

Mitchell Pacelle. Empire: A Tale of Obsession, Betrayal, and the Battle for an American Icon. John Wiley & Sons, 2001. — Available at Amazon.com

G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. LC 90-30728. NA200.S57 1990. discussion, p152. twilight overview photo, p153. — Available at Amazon.com

Henry C. Meyer, Jr. "The Empire State Building, IV. Heating and Ventilating", Architectural Forum. October 1930. Vol 53 Number 4. p517. drawing of transverse section, p519.

Toshino Nakamura, ed. "Empire State Building, 1931", A+U Extra Edition. April 1987. p129. drawing of exterior wall detail, p132. color drawing of exterior perspective, p6.

R. H. Shreeve. "The Economic Design of Office Buildings", Architectural Record. April 1930. Vol 67 Number 4. p341. drawing of exterior perspective, p340. drawing of floors 6-20 plan, p339. drawing of floors 30, 32, 40 and 43 plan, p339. drawing of floor 66 and 67 plan, p339.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

Amazon.com  Find books about Empire State Building

Web Resources
Links on Empire State Building

Empire State BuildingThe official site of the building itself.

Empire State BuildingAt the New York Public Library. Includes cool construction photos.

Empire State Building at ArchiplanetFind, add, and edit info at the all-buildings collaboration

New York Hotels - Find hotels near the Empire State Building in New York

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