As lead designer of the Lever House and many of America’s most historically prominent buildings, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Gordon Bunshaft (9 May 1909 – 6 August 1990) is credited with ushering in a new era of Modernist skyscraper design and corporate architecture. A stern figure and a loyal advocate of the International Style, Bunshaft spent the majority of his career as partner and lead designer for SOM, who have referred to him as “a titan of industry, a decisive army general, an architectural John Wayne.”
Following last week’s announcement of JPMorgan Chase’s plans to demolition the historically significant modernist masterwork 270 Park (formerly known as the Union Carbide Building), the US chapter of international non-profit Modernist architecture advocate Docomomo has penned a letter to New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee chair Meenakshi Srinivasan arguing for the structure’s preservation.
In the letter, Docomomo US President Theodore H.M. Prudon and Docomomo US NY/Tri-State President John Arbuckle highlight the structure’s critical acclaim and essential place within Modernist architectural history, urging the Commission to calendar the building for designation as quickly as possible.
Find the letter reprinted in full, below.
The Pritzker Prize is the most important award in the field of architecture, awarded to a living architect whose built work "has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity through the art of architecture." The Prize rewards individuals, not entire offices, as took place in 2000 (when the jury selected Rem Koolhaas instead of his firm OMA) or in 2016 (with Alejandro Aravena selected instead of Elemental); however, the prize can also be awarded to multiple individuals working together, as took place in 2001 (Herzog & de Meuron), 2010 (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA), and 2017 (Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes).
The award is an initiative funded by Jay Pritzker through the Hyatt Foundation, an organization associated with the hotel company of the same name that Jay founded with his brother Donald in 1957. The award was first given in 1979, when the American architect Philip Johnson, was awarded for his iconic works such as the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut.
The Pritzker Prize has been awarded for almost forty straight years without interruption, and there are now 18 countries with at least one winning architect. To date, half of the winners are European; while the Americas, Asia, and Oceania share the other twenty editions. So far, no African architect has been awarded, making it the only continent without a winner.
Just months after plans were announced for a major transformation of Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building at 550 Madison, another iconic midtown Manhattan skyscraper is at risk – and this time, it would mean the demolition of the entire building.
Designed by Natalie de Blois and Gordon Bunshaft of SOM and completed in 1961, 270 Park Avenue (formerly known as the Union Carbide Building) is considered a key example of the International Style in New York City that extended and even improved upon the precedent set by Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building.
But after new zoning legislation for the neighborhood was passed last year, the building’s current owner, JPMorgan Chase, has announced plans to raze the 707-foot-tall building in favor of a new, hi-tech supertall replacement. If plans go through, it would be the world’s largest and tallest building ever to be intentionally demolished.
Cloistered by a protective shell of stone, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is one of the world’s foremost collections of rare manuscripts. Opened in 1963, the library is renowned for its translucent marble façade and the world-renowned glass book tower sheltered within – a dramatic arrangement resulting from the particular requirements of a repository for literary artifacts. This unique design, very much in the Modernist lineage but in contrast to the revivalist styles of the rest of Yale’s campus, has only become appreciated thanks to the passage of time; the same bold choices which are now celebrated were once seen as a cause for contempt and outrage.
The relationship between social dynamics and architecture has always been intimate. It is a constant dialogue between social norms and politics, stylistic trends and aesthetic choices, individual preferences and the collective good. The Modernist Period was a time when architecture took on the challenge of many social problems. In all the arts – architecture, design, music and film – the period was highly politicized and the choices often gave way to a utilitarian ideal that was a hybrid of efficiency, simplicity and comfort. Jake Gorst’s new film Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island, supported by Design Onscreen, is a message of preservation that takes us through the history of the modernist housing boom that took place on Long Island, NY in the period between the Great Depression and the 1970s.
On August 14th, Cook+Fox Architects hosted a private film screening at their office on 641 Ave of the Americas, presenting the treasures along the island’s shore that have fallen between the cracks of history. The film looks at works from Albert Frey, Wallace Harrison, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Charles Gwathmey, Barbara and Julian Neski and many others.
Follow us after the break to catch up on the history of the development of these houses on Long Island.
Endangered Monuments Update: Preservation Efforts for the 510 Fifth Avenue Manufactures Trust Company Bank Branch
ArchDaily previously ran an article about the Manufacturers Trust Company Bank Branch at 510 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and interior designer Eleanor H. Le Maire, a building designated as protected under the Landmarks Preservation Commission with first the exterior in 1997 and later the interior in early 2011. But as recently as October 2011, the building was already listed under the 2012 World Monuments Fund in the 2012 World Monuments Watch as the current owners, Vornado Realty Trust, began compromising the landmarked conditions of the interior of the building as it was being adapted for reuse. With preservationists in an uproar, support for the protection of the building was enough to bring Vornado Realty Trust to New York State Supreme Court where a settlement was reached.
Read on for more details on the settlement and continuing efforts to protect endangered monuments.
Welcome to the Architecture City Guide series. Here at ArchDaily we thought this series could especially be put to use during the upcoming holiday season. Many will be traveling to see family, having family visit, or taking a New Year’s vacation to a new city. Here is a small City Guide list, starting with Washington D.C.
We want to hear from you, share with us your City Guide list for buildings in Washington D.C. More cities to come, so be sure to check back.
Follow the break for our Washington D.C. list and a corresponding map!