Seagram Building
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Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
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Location New York, New York   map
Date 1954 to 1958   timeline
Building Type skyscraper, commercial office tower
 Construction System steel frame with curtain wall, bronze exterior "columns"
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Modern
Notes Eloquent structural expression in facade which is ornamental rather than literal.
Images

 


Photo, looking across plaza
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Drawings

 


Detail Drawing

Discussion Seagram Building Commentary

"The inescapable drama of the Seagram Building in a city already dramatic with crowded skyscrapers lies in its unbroken height of bronze and dark glass juxtaposed to a granite-paved plaza below. The siting of the building on Park Avenue, an indulgence in open space unprecedented in midtown Manhattan real estate, has given that building an aura of special domain. The commercial office building in this instance has been endowed with a monumentality without equal in the civic and religious architecture of our time....The use of extruded bronze mullions and bronze spandrels together with a dark amber-tinted glass has unified the surface with color....The positioning of the Seagram Building on the site and its additive forms at the rear, which visually tie the building to adjacent structures, make for a frontal-oriented composition. The tower is no longer an isolated form. It addresses itself to the context of the city."

—A. James Speyer. Mies van der Rohe. p30.

The Creator's Words

"Skyscrapers reveal their bold structural pattern during construction. Only then does the gigantic steel web seem impressive. When the outer walls are put in place, the structural system, which is the basis of all artistic design, is hidden by a chaos of meaningless and trivial forms...Instead of trying to solve old problems with these old forms we should develop new forms from the very nature of the new problems. We can see the new structural principles most clearly when we use glass in place of the outer walls, which is feasible today since in a skeleton building these outer walls do not carry weight. The use of glass imposes new solutions."

—Mies van der Rohe. from Martin Pawley, introduction and notes. Library of Contemporary Architects: Mies van der Rohe. p12.

Details

Address: 375 Park Avenue
New York, New York

American Institute of Architects 25 Year Award, 1980

Resources
Sources on Seagram Building

Werner Blaser. Mies Van Der Rohe. Birkhauser, May 1997. ISBN 3-7643-5619-7.   Available at Amazon.com

Francis D. K. Ching. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979. ISBN 0-442-21535-5. LC 79-18045. NA2760.C46. exterior perspective drawing, p29. — A nice graphic introduction to architectural ideas. Updated 1996 edition available at Amazon.com

Peter Gossel. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. Hohenzollernring: Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1991. ISBN 3-8228-0550-5. detail of façade construction, p231.

Heinrich Klotz. History of Post-Modern Architecture. exterior photo, p63.

Lawrence A. Martin, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, September 1993. PCD.3235.1012.0545.076.

Martin Pawley, introduction and notes. Library of Contemporary Architects: Mies van der Rohe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970. NA .M65 A513 1970. SBN 671-20691-5. LC 73-119717. p12.

William S. Saunders. Modern Architecture—Photographs by Ezra Stoller. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3816-2. exterior photo, p63-65, 68. interior photos, looking out, p66-67. — A wonderful & inspiring book of beautiful photographs by the master of architectural photography. Available at Amazon.com

A. James Speyer. Mies van der Rohe. Chicago: Hillison & Etten, 1968. NA1088.M65S6. p30.

Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture, from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1986. detail photo, drawing, fig 862, p 540. — Available at Amazon.com

Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper. American Architecture, Volume 2. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. exterior photo, f282, p352. — An excellent survey of American architecture. Reprint Edition available at Amazon.com

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

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Web Resources
Links on Seagram Building

Building of the MilleniumA New York Times essay by Herbert Muschamp

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

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