Posts tagged with "Seagram Building":

EXCLUSIVE: Phyllis Lambert responds to the planned auction of the Four Seasons Restaurant furniture and décor

The Architect's Newspaper published Public Preview to Precede Auction of Four Seasons Restaurant Furniture and Décor on April 27 as a “fire sale” blog. This story reported on the sale and auction of the furniture and fittings of the legendary Four Seasons restaurant by the building’s current owner Aby Rosen. In response to the planned destruction of the restaurant—certainly the grandest modernist restaurant design in the world—Phyllis Lambert, who was the client and driving force behind the restaurant, sent us an open letter to Rosen. Here is that letter: To Aby I am writing a plea to you concerning what is still the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building. My plea is to keep in place the furniture designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, and therefore to maintain the authenticity of two of the world’s greatest rooms. Great public places are very rarely created. Their presence, unchanged, maintains continuity of place and of ritual, which is socially and spiritually essential in all societies. You are in the very enviable position as heir to such a place. Here, within an established tradition of greatness, you can choose the restaurateur and the programs. At the same time, you are installing a new restaurant in the new building you have commissioned that is now in construction immediately adjacent to the Seagram Building at 100 East 53rd Street. There you can invent the very atmosphere you wish to have. You have the extraordinary chance in 2017, and another generation, of emulating the superb quality of Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson’s rooms. Great rooms by architects from Michelangelo to Robert Adam, Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, and Mies are gesamtkunstwerk, an all-embracing art that includes every aspect of the interior and the exterior architecture. As heir to the Four Seasons Restaurant designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, my plea to you is to accept the very generous offer of its owners to acquire the furniture (they own it) at less than replacement cost. The nature of the food can change, as it has in such great restaurants as the Grand Véfour in Paris, renowned for over two hundred years for the tradition of its unchanged décor and its gastronomy. After having responded with a ludicrous price when offered to acquire the Four Season’s name, and having the great Picasso curtain removed from the travertine passage linking the bar-grill and the pool rooms, you still have the opportunity to maintain the character and reinforce the tradition of this extraordinary place. A decision to acquire the furniture will secure you a place in the annals of history. —Phyllis Lambert      

Public preview to precede auction of Four Seasons restaurant furniture and decor

Today new details were announced on the fate of iconic The Four Seasons Restaurant's interior, including the auction house and certain pieces that will be sold. The Four Seasons was opened in 1959 and is located within the Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson-designed Seagram Building. Mies and Johnson also designed the restaurant's interior, which was designated an interior landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.  While the restaurant has been a staple of New York City's high-end social scene, the building's owner—Aby Rosen and his company, RFR Holding—last summer announced they would not renew The Four Season's lease. The restaurant, which is separately owned by Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder, will close at its current location on July 16 and move to a location nearby. While it's been known that Niccolini and von Bidder would sell off the restaurant's original furniture and decor, it was announced today that the auction house Wright would be conducting the auction on July 26. "The auction will be live on-site, and open to the public," said a public relations agency representing Wright. "From July 20-26, there will be a public preview at The Four Seasons Restaurant." The furniture includes designs by Mies and, according to the New York Times, "Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable...designed the table settings and some of the furniture" as well. The press representative informed us the sale will include:
  • The Grill Room’s banquettes
  • All furniture including the original suite of Barcelona seating from the travertine lobby
  • Custom Tulip tables with polished bronze tops
  • Groups of custom Brno chairs
  • Tableware
  • Objects such as custom wine coolers, planters, serving carts, and bespoke pots and pans
A full list of the lots, along with images of them, are not yet available.

New York City’s iconic Four Seasons Restaurant inside the Seagram Building is at the center of a renovation dispute

Four_Seasons_restaurant Traditionalists went into a tailspin over proposed modifications to the landmark Four Seasons Restaurant, a gastronomic and architectural emblem of New York City housed in the historic Seagram Building. The high-ceilinged enclave, clad with French walnut walls, plays daily host to high society a big business in Midtown Manhattan. The eatery garnered landmark status in 1989 for the building’s architectural prowess. Nevertheless, the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) cautions that this designation does not shield the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs, Florence Knoll banquettes, Eero Saarinen cocktail tables, and table settings by L. Garth Huxtable. Building owner and noted art collector Aby Rosen of RFR Holdings recently filed plans to make changes to the restaurant, reportedly without consulting owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder. While the LPC approved the proposed new carpeting without qualm, they balked at a removal of the cracked-glass and bronze partitions separating the dining area and bar. Originally installed by legendary architect Philip Johnson, who designed the space with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1959, the partitions would be replaced by movable ivy planters to open up the space. Selldorf Architects is also considering nixing the large walnut panels separating the square-shaped 60-foot-by-60-foot Pool Room from the dining room on the mezzanine. These will be replaced with five panels, the outer two of which would be operable for reconfiguration of the space. According to Rosen, this would improve the flow between the mezzanine and the Pool Room without the upper tier framing the space. “This landmark is elevated to a level where any kind of intervention would not be living with preservation,” objected LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. Conservationists bristled last year when Rosen entertained an eviction of the Le Tricorne Picasso tapestry hanging inside the restaurant in order to facilitate reparations to the wall behind it, where a “potentially serious steam leak” from the two-story kitchen had purportedly crippled the structure. The preservation commission retorted that removal of the tapestry would cause it to “crack like a potato chip.” A New York State judge issued an injunction prohibiting Seagram from removing the painting, but Rosen, a real estate developer and avid collector of post-war art, is in conservationists’ crossfire again for daring to alter a landmark. “These are features that are integral to the sense of space. Not just decorative but have architectural meaning and value,” said Commissioner Diana Chapin. Edgar Bronfman Jr., whose family owned Seagram, claimed that RFR’s proposal displays “utter contempt” for the icon. RFR representative Sheldon Werdiger maintains that the changes are restorative rather than invasive. “We’re not making changes as much as we’re restoring. Our local press is trying to make it into a controversial situation,” he told Arch Record.

The Golden Lion Roars for Phyllis Lambert at Venice Biennale

The board of the Venice Biennale announced today that Phyllis Lambert is the 2014 recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement for the 14th Architecture Biennale, Fundamentals. Best known for championing the selection of Mies van der Rohe to design the Seagram Building for her family and for founding the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Lambert has worked as an architect, author, curator, and advocate for contemporary architecture and historic preservation. In a statement, board chair Paolo Barata praised Lambert's contribution to the field:
Not as an architect, but as a client and custodian, Phyllis Lambert has made a huge contribution to architecture. Without her participation, one of the few realizations in the 20th century of perfection—the Seagram Building in New York—would not have happened. Her creation of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal combines rare vision with rare generosity to preserve crucial episodes of architecture's heritage and to study them under ideal conditions. Architects make architecture; Phyllis Lambert made architects.
She will be presented with the award on June 7 at the Biennale.

New PBS Series To Showcase Ten Buildings That Changed America

These days it seems increasingly rare that we take a moment out of our busy schedules to pause and appreciate our surroundings: downtown skyscrapers, grand civic buildings, or the mundane background buildings along our streets. To many, those soaring steel towers are old news, but have you ever stopped to picture a Manhattan without skyscrapers, or a courthouse in Washington, DC that didn’t resemble a Greek or Roman temple, or how about an America without shopping malls? (Unimaginable. Right?) Dan Protress, writer and producer of the new PBS television series 10 Buildings that Changed America, certainly has. The series, hosted by Emmy-award winning producer Geoffrey Baer, proves that architecture is the cultural back-bone of any society.  The show was created to celebrate and explore ten of the most influential American buildings—and the architect’s that designed them—that dramatically altered the architectural landscape of this country. Featuring buildings like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Chicago, which transformed the idea of the American home, the Southdale Center in Edina, MN, the nation's first enclosed shopping-center, and the Wainright Building in St. Louis, which, according to historian Tim Samuelson, “taught the skyscraper to soar,” the series delves into the history of these once radically perceived buildings and highlights the roles they have played in molding present-day American society. The Society of Architectural Historians, along with a group of architectural experts, has compiled a list of the ten most iconic and influential structures built by different architects ranging from various eras in American history: 1. Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, CA (1788) 2. Trinity Church, Boston, MA (1877) 3. Wainwright Building, St. Louis, MO (1891) 4. Robie House, Chicago, IL (1910) 5. Highland Park Ford Plant, Highland Park, MI (1910) 6. Southdale Center, Edina, MN (1956) 7. Seagram Building, New York, NY (1958) 8. Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, VA (1962) 9. Vanna Venturi House, Philadelphia, PA (1964) 10. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA (2003) The show is scheduled to air on Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 10:00 p.m. EST. Tune in and discover the pioneering architectural leaders, breakthrough concepts, groundbreaking buildings, and touching stories that make up the architectural history of the United States. Who knows, you might just be tempted to take a moment out of that busy schedule to admire your surroundings. All images courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Videos> 32 Years After Whyte, Seagram Plaza Still a Flurry of Activity

For the past eleven years, photographer Jesse David Harris has had unfettered access to two of the most architecturally significant buildings in New York: the Seagram Building and Lever House, both owned by RFR Holdings. As staff photographer for the Lever House Art Collection he began to shoot the Seagram Building with deference to Ezra Stoller. The photographer’s familiarity with the building evolved alongside technology. Last year, Harris began a time-lapse project that reflects his time with Mies van der Rohe's masterpiece. The project took ten days to shoot over the course of 8 months on a Canon 5D MarkII. Harris bounced between a 17mm and a 24mm tilt-shift lens. Three streams of bracketed exposures were edited during four months of postproduction. To achieve the stunning effects in the film, the photographer designed a time-lapse dolly with a slow servomotor that gently pushed the camera along a forty foot track. The time lapses ranged from four to 24 hours. It’s not the first time that the Seagram has received this time lapse treatment. The late urbanist William Holly Whyte used time-lapse recordings of the building's plaza to hash out theories on the use of public space for his landmark book and film, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Harris and Whyte shared the same elevated vantage point from which to observe the flurry of activity in the plaza below. Harris’s work seems to buttress Whyte’s appreciation of a “friendly kind of congestion” that forms on Seagram’s plaza. Until recently, people were often swept away from architectural photography as blemishes obscuring the masterpiece, but Harris’s film takes a kind of Satyagraha joy of people in motion. The result is a wholly public yet intimate observation that only an eleven-year photo veteran could make. “In the beginning, I was intimidated by it,” Harris said of the building. “On first look it can be standoffish, but it’s actually very soft. It sounds silly, but it’s become my friend in a way.”

Quick Clicks> Legos, Towers, Loop, Rich Zip

Towering Ambition. An amazing exhibition that recreates some of the world's most iconic buildings in miniature is ongoing at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C through September 5th. Design Quarterly has more info on the Lego structures by Adam Reed Tucker (via Notcot) and the NBM has an interview. (There's also a lecture on architectural toys planned this Thursday.) High Hopes. The Atlantic features an Ed Glaeser article on the benefits of building up, detailing the benefits of the skyscraper and acknowledging the "misplaced fear" that planners and preservationists harbor toward the tower. Loop the Loop. In St. Louis, a proposed streetcar line connecting Forest Park with the Delmar Loop is right on track. With an Environmental Impact Study expected any day now, the St. Louis Business Journal says $3 million of a $25 million federal grant will push the project forward. Rich Zip. New York's bronze-clad Seagram Building by Mies van der Rohe has long been a symbol of wealth, but now the Wall Street Journal reports that the 38-story tower, with its own zip code (10152 if you were wondering), is also home to the wealthiest per capita income in the U.S. at $13.9 mil. The General Motors building came in second with an average income of $9.9M.

A Stroll Through Modernism with Ezra Stoller

An exhibition of architectural photographer Ezra Stoller’s work will open at the Yossi Milo Gallery tonight in New York and runs through February 12. A few of the photos are instantly recognizable, such as a photo of the Guggenheim lobby featuring women in pillbox hats standing in the foreground. But the gems of the show are those taken off the beaten path, like the roof of the Seagram’s Building or a parking garage in Miami. “We see it as a mini-retrospective,” said Milo. “We wanted to show more than the slam-dunk photos, to give it more depth.” The images show not only Stoller’s precise technical ability, but also reveal the self-effacing nature of architectural photography: that of an artist recording work of another artist. But the depth of Stoller’s appreciation for art and design makes it easy to forget that one is looking at a stand alone work of art. Not only is the genius of Mies, Wright and Saarinen observed, but the works of Picasso, Kandinsky, and Miro peer out from building interiors as well. The artworks act as a magnet, pulling the viewer further in. In a single shot of a Seagram interior one of Rothko’s “Red” paintings hangs next to the next to an Eames sofa which sits across from a Franz Kline. “These were such new ideas. Now people sit with an iPhone and think that’s modern,” Milo said gesturing to the photograph. The gallery owner noted that some photos that didn’t make it into the show revealed the photographer’s intense interest in the building process. “There are photos from the beginning of when the U.N. was being built. He kept going back and going back,” he said. The images show buildings shot at all times of day and in all kinds of weather, taken at night, in the rain, after the rain, or, as in one photo of Saarinen’s TWA terminal, as a lightning storm approaches. That particular silver print holds varying tones of white within the building interior, while simultaneously retaining all the grays and blacks of the approaching storm.