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Seagram Building 1958

Architectural Style Location Functions Architect Materials Cost Height Elevators

International Style New York City, United States OfďŹ ce & Restaurant Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) Steel, concrete, glass, aluminium, bronze & marble $36,000,000 157 m 18

Brief Description/Curiosity The Seagram Building, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is both a landmark for New York City and 20th century modernist American architecture due to its marriage of classical and gothic elements. Samuel Bronfman, owner of Seagram’s Whiskey, commissioned the building as the new headquarters of the Canadian company. Analysis of the building often references classical architecture, for which Mies was noted to have appreciated. Although the 157m tower uses modern industrialized materials, techniques such as proportion, logic, symmetry and balance are used to describe the tower.


Picture (BW)


Masterplan sc. 1:5000


Masterplan sc. 1:2000


The Seagram Building, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is both a landmark for New York City and 20th century modernist American architecture due to its marriage of classical and gothic elements. Samuel Bronfman, owner of Seagram’s Whiskey, commissioned the building as the new headquarters of the Canadian company. Bronfman had originally asked Charles Luckman to design the tower. Luckman was the architect of the Lever House building, the first curtain wall structure on Park Ave, and was located directly diagonal to the Seagrams Building site. After persistent influence from Bronfman’s daughter, an aspiring architectural student named Phyllis Lambert, she encouraged her father to instead hire Mies van der Rohe to become the new architect. Throughout the process, Lambert worked closely with Mies and was designated the role of Director of Planning. Philip Johnson was commissioned to design the interior, particularly the Four Season’s restaurant. Analysis of the building often references classical architecture, for which Mies was noted to have appreciated. Although the 157m tower uses modern industrialized materials, techniques such as proportion, logic, symmetry and balance are used to describe the tower. The ground floor references temple pillars because of the rhythmic regularity of its columns and bays. The tripartite division of the tower articulates the base, shaft and capital. The plan is completely symmetrical and follows a disciplined 8.5m grid structure. Bronze I-beams are used on the exterior facade to create vertically expressive striations. Simultaneously, the I-beams serve no structural purpose, however they pay reference to the main steel structure of the building. Although Mies wanted to articulate the internal steel structure, it was required to be encased in concrete due to fire regulations. Luxurious finishes such a bronze, marble and travertine reference the opulence of antiquity. The Seagram Building was also the most expensive tower constructed in New York City at the time of its completion in 1958. The tower is also infamous for it’s 30m set back from the street. During this time, it was common practice to fill the entire plot and follow the regulated setbacks established in 1916. There are conflicting views as to why Mies justified this design intention. He is believed to have said that the set back was a decision to respect the Italian renaissance-style Racquet & Tennis Club, designed by McKim, Mead & White in 1916, which is located across the street on Park Avenue. However, others argue that by setting the building back, this allowed passersby to have a unique architectural experience that is seldom found in New York City. By taking distance from the street, pedestrians are able to view the powerful presence of the building. Its setback also allowed for desired perspective for architectural photography in published works. It is also argued that the plaza and reflection pools were not intended for extended occupation of the public because of the narrow size of the curbs and minimal design. The plaza often hosts temporary sculptures exhibits, which references the commissioned art in the office interior, largely influenced by Phyllis Lambert. Of great importance is the connection from the street to the office tower. The procession leads you up the steps of the plaza, across the vast open space, past the overhang and columns and through the delicate curtain wall. The four travertine cladded elevator shafts anchor the building to the ground and connect users to the offices above.

Mies van der Rohe Principal Architect

Philip Johnson Interior Architect

Phyllis Lambert Director of Planning & daughter of Samuel Bronfman

Samuel Bronfman Seagrams CEO


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1975

2015

Manhattan Skyline


Seagram Building Mies van der Rohe 1954 - 1958

Lever House SOM 1950 - 1952

Racquet & Tennis Club McKim, Mead, & White 1916

1958

Relationship with Racquet Club & Lever House Context 1958


1916 Building Code Setbacks

Volume Concept

Raised Volume on Pilotis

Defined Public Space

Two Volumes

Vertical Shafts

Structure

Vertically Expressive Facade

Diagrams


1958

Public Space Horizontal Section Axonometric View


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A

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Ground Floor 1:500

Ground Floor 1/500


Floor 8 1:500

Floor 8 1/500


Floor 35 1:500

Floor 35 1/500


Section 1 1:1000


Elevation 1 1:1000


Section 2 1:1000


Elevation 2 1:1000


1 - tinted single-glazed glass 2 - interior support envelope 3 - steel I-beam column encased in concrete (for fireproofing) 4 - substructure supporting corner anchor 5 - exterior pilar cladding 6 - insulating panel 7 - bronze-coated I-beam (non-structural)

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Horizontal Section of Corner Detail 1:10


1 - steel I-beam encased in concrete (for fireproofing) 2 - drop ceiling 3 - tinted single-glazed glass 4 - heating/cooling system 5 - interior pavement 6 - L-profile slab support anchor 7 - suppport for metal panel cladding 8 - metal panel cladding

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Vertical Section Floor-to-Floor 1:20


Primary Structure Axonometric of Construction Logic


Facade Axonometric of Construction Logic


Profile for Fallon Walton

Anatomy of a Building: Seagram Tower  

In collaboration with Paula Bizais. This document is an architectural anaylsis of Mies van der Rohe's Seagram tower in New York City.

Anatomy of a Building: Seagram Tower  

In collaboration with Paula Bizais. This document is an architectural anaylsis of Mies van der Rohe's Seagram tower in New York City.