Archtober Building of the Day #4: Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock (Courtesy Gabellini Sheppard).

Top of the Rock (Courtesy Gabellini Sheppard).

It’s hard to imagine that the cool and suave young architect who launched Minimalism on Park Avenue with the Jil Sander Store in 1983 is the same man who brought us the modern apotheosis of Art Deco at Top of the Rock. Is it a space? Is it a ride? It certainly has a chandelier!

Michael Gabellini, FAIA, a principal of Gabellini Sheppard Associates, a RISD grad, and a Kohn Pedersen Fox alum, waxed poetic at the Archtober preview: “Top of the Rock epitomizes Archtober’s mission of raising awareness of architecture and design. By restoring public access, the project celebrates and embraces the ongoing life and vitality of Rockefeller Center.”

As I’ve been saying for months, almost 50 million people don’t come to New York every year to enjoy purple mountains’ majesty. They come for a different view…and from the Top of the Rock, 70 stories above Rockefeller Plaza, they get it.

Jaded New Yorkers may stay away from this tourist destination, but they shouldn’t. Gabellini has created an extravaganza of sparkle that will cheer one and all on even the gloomiest day.

Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture.


The AIANY crew play tourist for the day. (Courtesy The Center for Architecture).

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