Seagram Building

Seagram Building, New York, USA, Mies van der Rohe
Project year : 1958
Architect(s) :
Address : 375 Park Ave, NEW YORK, United States
Latitude/Longitude : 40.7585064,-73.9725365

The Seagram Building was designed by Mies van der Rohe and epitomizes elegance and the principles of modernism, located in the heart of New York City. This was Mies’ first attempt at tall office building construction, a 38-story building on Park Avenue. His solution set a standard in the design of the modern skyscraper and it managed to become a monumental continuity of bronze and dark glass that climb up to 515 feet and at the same time juxtaposing the large granite surface of the plaza below.

The architects’ response to the city created a highly active open plaza as the Seagram Building was the grand gesture of setting back the building 100 feet from the street edge. This plaza has the ability to attract users with its two large fountains surrounded by generous outdoor seating. Mies distanced himself from New York urban morphology with this move and also the lot line development, and the conventional economics of skyscraper construction. At the entry of the building, a procession was created by the plaza, providing the threshold that linked the city with the skyscraper. This threshold continues into the building as a horizontal plane in the plaza that cuts into the lobby. A white ceiling stretches out over the entry doors in the lobby area, further eroding the defined line between interior and exterior.

The office spaces above the lobby are furnished by Philip Johnson and they all have flexible floor plans lit with luminous ceiling panels. These floors also get maximum natural lighting with the exterior being glass panes of gray topaz that provide floor-to-ceiling windows for the office spaces. For sun and heat protection, the architect used gray topaz glass. Venetian blinds cover the windows and they could only be fixed in a limited number of positions so as to provide visual consistency from the outside.

The desired exterior expression Mies wanted to achieve determined the detailing of the exterior surface. The metal bronze skin that is seen in the facade is nonstructural but is used to express the idea of the structural frame that is underneath. Welded to the window panels are also Additional vertical elements that stiffen the skin for installation and wind loading, while aesthetically further enhance the vertical articulation of the building.

The Seagram Building uses modern materials and setbacks from the city grid, becoming a prototype for future office buildings designed by Mies as well as a model for many buildings erected in its surroundings. This building is still admired by many visitors everyday, fifty years after its completion, and sets an example of an International style skyscraper amidst the New York skyline.