Posts tagged with "Four Seasons":

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Investors blame Isay Weinfeld’s design for the closing of the new Four Seasons Restaurant

The iconic new Four Seasons Restaurant has officially closed after reopening less than 10 months ago and following a $32 million renovation. In 2016 the original and much-venerated restaurant was forced to relocate because the owner, Aby Rosen, would not renew its lease. Now, investors are reportedly pointing fingers at design flaws as the cause of failure. The original restaurant was located in Mies van der Rohe’s New York-renowned Seagram Building. The interior, designed by Philip Johnson, remained nearly unchanged since 1959, and in 1989 it received an interior landmark designation from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Four Seasons Restaurant carries hefty, modernist roots, although, in recent years, Rosen has been caught trying to make changes to the space without prior approval from the LPC. With the guidance of architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld was selected to design the restaurant's new home at 42 East 49th Street. A New York Post article claims that, according to unnamed sources behind the scenes, the restaurant's well-heeled investors are blaming its failure on two private dining areas on the second floor that were supposed to attract high dollar events. The article names large columns, blocked views, "disagreeable" furniture, and construction delays as design-related issues leading up to the restaurant's demise. Meanwhile, owner Alex von Bidder mentioned to the New York Times that he, “thought the new restaurant was great, looked great and had a great team in place.” Nevertheless, investors made the decision to close. AN reached out to Isay Weinfeld for comment and received the following response: “I could not be prouder of our designs for the Four Seasons Restaurant. But I respect all opinions, including the silly ones.” The restaurant is owned by Alex von Bidder and members of the Bronfman family, and previously Julian Niccolini. In the same year that the restaurant announced its move, Niccolini pleaded guilty to sexual assault but remained a co-owner. Since the re-opening and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, critics and the public have scrutinized the restaurant for still involving Niccolini. In December 2018 he was finally forced to resign.
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Liz Diller's hilarious tribute to Phyllis Lambert and the Four Seasons

The long, drawn-out farewell to the Four Seasons has had its share of heavy-hearted tributes and bittersweet final toasts. In anticipation of the closing of the restaurant and the auctioning of the Philip Johnson and Mies Van der Rohe furniture, DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State gave a festive send-off to everyone’s favorite midcentury hangout, honoring Phyllis Lambert, the mastermind of the Four Seasons interiors and the Seagram Building in which they sit. Liz Diller, who worked as the architect of the Brasserie downstairs, gave formal remarks, giving some rare insight into the architectural process and the powerful character behind it all. Here are some excerpts of Liz’s speech.

Tonight is a tribute to Phyllis, but, so far, I’ve been talking about the Four Seasons. But is it possible to decouple Phyllis from The Four Seasons anyway and from the Seagram Building?  Never has a relationship between a building and a human being been as inextricable as between Phyllis Lambert and the Seagram. Indeed, Phyllis has said “I consider I was born when I built this building...”  

...My first experience with Phyllis was precisely about not screwing up this building. It was around 1999. The Brasserie was originally designed by Philip Johnson in the base of the building under us and it was destroyed by a fire. The restaurant operator, Nick Valenti, had hired an architect to design a new interior, whose roots were in France. It was some strange idea about how to redecorate the Brasserie. The construction documents that were completed had to be approved by Phyllis. The operator had no idea who Phyllis was. Phyllis took one look at the drawings and said, “Over my dead body.” Thereby throwing away years of planning. Phyllis then submitted a list of acceptable architects to Valenti, including my studio.

We got the commission, and about a year later we thought it would be a good idea to get Phyllis’s blessing for our design. She flew over to NYC from Montreal and we were terrified. We knew she was brutally honest, intellectually rigorous, and very tough to please. It didn't help that she arrived in our studio in a very foul mood. In fact, she was irate. Her flight had been delayed, she couldn’t find her driver, and when she did, the car had to fight through rush hour traffic to get to Manhattan, and when she got to our buiding she was interrogated by our doorman for 10 minutes, and our elevators weren’t working very well. So Phyllis burst through the door in kind of a rage, and every other word was an expletive. I quote, “I hate your effing building, I hate your effing airport, I hate your effing city, I hate your effing country.” My staff dispersed, and I offered her some tea, and told her it might calm her down. She said, “I don't want to calm down.” Ricardo decided to respond to an alleged emergency on another project, which I have never forgiven him for.

I was alone with Phyllis and a set of drawings and a year’s worth of work that was at stake. But it took all of about three minutes to soften her mood and to tame Phyllis and to draw her into a dialogue the design and about architecture. Architecture is Phyllis’s medium. She breathes it, she eats it, and we bonded at that time and have remained very good friends ever since. I consider her my mentor.

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Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld to design new Four Seasons Restaurant at 280 Park Ave.

The Four Seasons saga continues, as the Post reports that owners Alex von Bidder and Julian Niccolini have finalized plans to move the legendary restaurant to 280 Park Ave. The new location will allow them to start from scratch in 2017, with a new space and new decoration, as they are auctioning off the Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe furniture from the old location. Carbone, the collaboration of young restauranteurs Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznick, will be taking over the old Seagram Building space. They are the team behind Carbone, Dirty French, and Parm. “This will be a Four Seasons for the 21st century,” an anonymous source told the Post. Weinfeld, who has a litany of projects in Brazil, including dozens of houses and the Havianas flagship store, is also designing the Jardim, a luxury residential building by the High Line at West 27th Street. For a glimpse at what we might expect from Weinfeld, take a look at the Fasano Restaurant that he designed for the Fasano family, who are also the patrons of the Fasano Hotel and Residences at Shore Club in Miami. Back at the Seagram Building, Aby Rosen claims that he will be replicating the furniture from the original Four Seasons design, attempting to save at least part of the gesamkunstwerk that is the space. (Can you save part of a gesamkunstwerk?) An ongoing preservation battle surrounds the interiors of the current Four Seasons location, and AN will keep you updated. At the new locale, no word yet from Isay or his people, but we will keep you updated, there, too.
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Get tickets for DOCOMOMO's Phyllis Lambert tribute at the Four Seasons June 15

As developer Aby Rosen pushes through changes at the iconic Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building on Manhattan's Park Avenue, preservationists are lamenting what could be the loss of one of the great Modernist public spaces since 1959. Rosen has already gotten rid of the Picasso tapestry in the lobby, and now the restauranteur duo of the Four Seasons are auctioning off the Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson-designed furniture. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has stood its ground on some of the permanent interior features, but Rosen continues to push for changes. The Four Seasons will move to 280 Park Avenue and reopen for business on Monday, August 1. At the current Four Seasons location, Rosen has enlisted Major Food Group, the gurus behind spots like Carbone, Dirty French, Parm, and Parm Yankee Stadium. In the face of drastic changes, DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State will be honoring Phyllis Lambert on June 15 at A Modern Affair, which is quite possibly the last event being held by an architecture or preservation organization before the restaurant closes. The evening will honor Lambert, whose vision enabled the creation of this landmark interior space. She is the author of Building Seagram. Elizabeth Diller will be making introductory remarks, as her practice, Diller + Scofidio, designed the Brasserie Restaurant in the Seagram Building.  Tickets are available here.  
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EXCLUSIVE: Aby Rosen to replace Four Seasons furniture with remakes from Knoll

  As developer Aby Rosen is set to remake the Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson-designed Four Seasons Restaurant space in Manhattan's Seagram Building, ongoing controversy surrounds the conservation of the architecture and design. The latest news came last month when auction house Wright announced plans to auction the furniture (designed by Mies and Johnson) at public auction on July 26. In response, Phyllis Lambert, the client and driving force behind the original 1959 building, wrote an open letter to Rosen published here on the Architect's Newspaper. Sources tell AN that Rosen's negotiations to buy the furniture from Four Seasons owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder fell through earlier this year, prompting the duo to auction them. Rosen now says that he has reordered the same furniture from Knoll. The contract would cost too much to break, Rosen claims. So according to Rosen, the restaurant, which will be run by the folks behind Carbone and Dirty French, will indeed have the Mies and Johnson furniture. It is a great pity that the furniture made for the Four Seasons under Mies and Philip’s supervision will not continue in place. Details are unclear, but the reorder would be a small victory for preservationists and a sign that maybe Rosen's major blunders ended with the Picasso curtain that was removed in 2014.  
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Stalled Residential Tower in Lower Manhattan to Rise Next to Woolworth Building

A giant residential skyscraper is slated to join Manhattan’s skyline— rising more than 130 feet above its neighbor, the Woolworth Building.  Developer Silverstein Properties announced today that $950 million in funding has been secured to move forward with the construction of the Robert A.M. Stern Architects-designed tower at 30 Park Place in Lower Manhattan. This massive building will climb up to 82-stories—making it the tallest residential tower in Downtown Manhattan according to a recent statement—and will include a 185-room Four Seasons hotel, 157 Four Seasons luxury residences, and a public plaza. Yabu Pushelberg, the design firm behind a slew of W and Four Season Hotels, will design the interiors for this project. Silverstein Properties anticipates that the they will break ground by Fall 2013 and complete the 926-feet tower by 2016.
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Eavesdrop NY 12

No Room at the In Place? Eavesdrop was thrilled by a friend’s “plus one” at the June 11 gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building. We all know Mies and Philip’s icon, so we’ll skip the background and move on to name-dropping. The 800-person guest list was so diverse we concluded that it must have been gleaned from the reservations book. The hosts, building owner Aby Rosen and wife Samantha Boardman and restaurateurs Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder, greeted the multitude, which included David Dinkins, Ray Kelly, Star Jones, Fern Mallis, Henry Kissinger, Barry Diller, George Wayne, Michael Gross, Thom Brown, Salman Rushdie, Jay McInerney, Michael Ovitz, a couple of Nederlanders, several mannequins, and generations of age-free socialites. Okay, so with representatives from every walk of life from the sacred to the profane, where were the architectural luminaries? Where was Phyllis Lambert, whose vision and perseverance are the sole reasons New York’s most storied interior even exists? Well, there was one bold-face architect in the crush of swells: Belmont “Monty” Freeman held court in the Grill Room, answering questions about overseeing the restaurant’s renovation, which is to begin next month. Lambert handpicked Freeman because she’s known him for many years and had admired his respectful and meticulous renovation of the Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University, designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo in 1970. So where was Phyllis? It turns out that the New York party was the same night as the annual Canadian Centre for Architecture ball. As the founder and director, Lambert had to host her own event—and send her Four Seasons regrets. The Scarano Files Perhaps more than any other New York architect, Robert Scarano has come to symbolize the five-borough building boom. Known to many for taking advantage of a loophole in the city’s self-certification program—resulting in a number of over-built projects—Scarano recently sat down for an interview with The Brooklyn Paper. Where’d he find the time? The developer’s darling admits to being out of work, after logging roughly 600 projects a year during what still seems like just yesterday. Among other things, Scarano was not surprised to see Frank Gehry depart Atlantic Yards—his “shelf life was up.” Scarano likes SOM’s Toren but not Ismael Leyva’s Oro, while being torn about Enrique Norten, whose BAM arts center “would have been a good project” but whose Park Slope apartment complex “is as non-contextual as you get.” If work dries up for good, he should try his hand at criticism. Send martinis and twizzle stix to A version of this article appeared in AN 12_07.08.2009.