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  3. 8 Influential Art Deco Skyscrapers by Ralph Thomas Walker

8 Influential Art Deco Skyscrapers by Ralph Thomas Walker

8 Influential Art Deco Skyscrapers by Ralph Thomas Walker
8 Influential Art Deco Skyscrapers by Ralph Thomas Walker, The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (now the Verizon Building) in New York. Image © Flickr user Wally Gobetz
The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (now the Verizon Building) in New York. Image © Flickr user Wally Gobetz

No architect played a greater role in shaping the twentieth century Manhattan skyline than Ralph Thomas Walker, winner of the 1957 AIA Centennial Gold Medal and a man once dubbed “Architect of the Century” by the New York Times. [1] But a late-career ethics scandal involving allegations of stolen contracts by a member of his firm precipitated his retreat from the architecture establishment and his descent into relative obscurity. Only recently has his prolific career been popularly reexamined, spurred by a new monograph and a high-profile exhibit of his work at the eponymous Walker Tower in New York in 2012.

One Wall Street, formerly the Irving Trust Company building, occupies one of the most valuable plots of real estate in the world. Courtesy of Wikipedia. Image  The AT&T Long Distance Building in New York, NY, contains over 1.1 million square feet of office space. Image © Wikipedia user Jim Henderson 60 Hudson Street, formerly the Western Union building, has become one of the most important internet hubs in the eastern U.S. Image © Wikipedia user Beyond my Ken The aluminum-winged crown of the Times Square Building in Rochester, New York, is an icon of Art Deco architecture. Image © Wikipedia user Marduk + 12

Walker’s emergence onto the architecture scene coincided with the coming-of-age of the skyscraper in the aftermath of World War I. Walker eagerly embraced the emerging presence of Art Deco, extolling its adaptability to the verticality of the skyscraper as well as its spiritually fulfilling humanism, and he remained obstinately opposed to the sterility of modernism even in his later years. [2] His buildings, which include among them One Wall Street, the AT&T Long Distance Building, and the Verizon Building, formerly known as the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building, are among the finest and most influential examples of Art Deco architecture produced anywhere. Yet perhaps the most enduring contribution Walker made was the popularization of a setback-style architecture that was in fact necessitated by the New York “sunlight” zoning laws of 1916. His characteristic massing solutions to the challenges of compliance were widely emulated and continue to define the profile of Lower Manhattan.

In belated celebration of his 125th birthday, several of Walker’s most important projects are featured below:

The AT&T Long Distance Building (New York, New York)

The AT&T Long Distance Building in New York, NY, contains over 1.1 million square feet of office space. Image © Wikipedia user Jim Henderson
The AT&T Long Distance Building in New York, NY, contains over 1.1 million square feet of office space. Image © Wikipedia user Jim Henderson

Irving Trust Company Building (New York, New York)

One Wall Street, formerly the Irving Trust Company building, occupies one of the most valuable plots of real estate in the world. Courtesy of Wikipedia. Image
One Wall Street, formerly the Irving Trust Company building, occupies one of the most valuable plots of real estate in the world. Courtesy of Wikipedia. Image

Times Square Building (Rochester, New York)

The aluminum-winged crown of the Times Square Building in Rochester, New York, is an icon of Art Deco architecture. Image © Wikipedia user Marduk
The aluminum-winged crown of the Times Square Building in Rochester, New York, is an icon of Art Deco architecture. Image © Wikipedia user Marduk

The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (New York)

The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building, now known as the Verizon Building, was severely damaged in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Image © Wikipedia user Brulot
The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building, now known as the Verizon Building, was severely damaged in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Image © Wikipedia user Brulot
The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building as seen from West St., was directly north of the World Trade Center's north tower before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Image © Wikipedia user Beyond my Ken
The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building as seen from West St., was directly north of the World Trade Center's north tower before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Image © Wikipedia user Beyond my Ken

The New Jersey Bell Headquarters (Newark, New Jersey)

The New Jersey Bell Headquarters building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Image © Wikipedia user Hudconja
The New Jersey Bell Headquarters building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Image © Wikipedia user Hudconja
The New Jersey Bell Headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, completed in 1929. Image © Wikipedia user Hudconja
The New Jersey Bell Headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, completed in 1929. Image © Wikipedia user Hudconja

The Western Union Building (New York, New York)

60 Hudson Street, formerly the Western Union building, has become one of the most important internet hubs in the eastern U.S. Image © Wikipedia user Beyond my Ken
60 Hudson Street, formerly the Western Union building, has become one of the most important internet hubs in the eastern U.S. Image © Wikipedia user Beyond my Ken
The crown of 60 Hudson Street, formerly the Western Union building. Image © Wikipedia user Jim Henderson
The crown of 60 Hudson Street, formerly the Western Union building. Image © Wikipedia user Jim Henderson

The Walker Tower (New York, New York)

The Walker Tower in Chelsea was recently converted into luxury apartments. Image © David Langdon
The Walker Tower in Chelsea was recently converted into luxury apartments. Image © David Langdon
The elaborate Art Deco details of the Walker Tower were "painstakingly" restored in the building's recent renovation. Image © David Langdon
The elaborate Art Deco details of the Walker Tower were "painstakingly" restored in the building's recent renovation. Image © David Langdon

[1] For a complete biography of the architect, see, e.g., Holliday, Kathryn. Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century. Rizzoli: 2012.

[2] Labine, Clem. “Rescuing Ralph Walker from Oblivion.” Traditional Building, December 2012. Available at http://www.traditional-building.com/Previous-Issues-12/DecemberBR12RalphWalker.html.

Cite: David Langdon. "8 Influential Art Deco Skyscrapers by Ralph Thomas Walker" 01 Apr 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/614156/8-influential-art-deco-skyscrapers-by-ralph-thomas-walker/> ISSN 0719-8884
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The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (now the Verizon Building) in New York. Image © Flickr user Wally Gobetz

由拉尔夫·托马斯·沃克设计的八个有影响力的艺术装饰风格(Art Deco)摩天大楼