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Seigram Building

Architecture, 1958

Description of the artwork «Seigram Building»

The 38-story Sigrem office building on Park Avenue in New York is one of the most expensive and energy-efficient. Modern energy efficiency tests put him in the top three on a 100-point scale. But they are ready to invest another millions of dollars in the modernization of this building in order to save. Because it was the first, because it is an American skyscraper made of glass and metal, which at one time became a landmark for a whole generation of architects. Twenty years after its construction, America’s metropolitan areas will be surrounded by similar minimalistic glass buildings in which the structural lines of pillars and floors will replace the decor. Today it is difficult to surprise anyone with such a decision, because after Mies van der Rohe they began to build like this everywhere, very soon already outside of America. But in 1958, when the Seigram building grew up in the center of New York, everything was defiant and revolutionary in it.

First, the area. The idea to move the building inland from the road line and leave an impressive space in front of the facade until Misa did not occur to anyone. Today it is one of the most familiar urban solutions: lulling fountains and long marble steps-benches, which in the warmer months can accommodate almost all office staff running off from under the air conditioners to get warm and get a portion of vitamin D. At the time of construction, the area is already It was densely built up - and such a decision made it possible to organize a truly spectacular meeting of a passerby with the building. Hidden deep into Park Avenue, it was only visible to the moment when you were already very close. It shook with severity, height and a magnificent facade.

Secondly, the visible structure. The facade of the first floor is shifted in depth, only columns are brought out - and it seems that all this glass tower is hovering above the ground. In the visible system of metal profiles, emphasizing the structure, there was no technical need at all: horizontal and vertical metal rails perform exclusively aesthetic functions. To make the building fireproof, concrete would have to be used here, but Mies would never have put up with it - and the customers had to spend a lot of money on one and a half tons of bronze to cover it with iron slats. I must say, it was one of the most accommodating, grateful and legendary customers of Misa.

Phyllis Lambert was 27 years old, she just graduated from college and came to Paris. By chance, a newspaper fell into her hands, in which it was reported that her father, the owner of a large Canadian alcohol company, was planning to build a building in New York to house the branch. A newspaper model of the building was also printed - and it was terrible: boring and unremarkable. Then Phyllis goes to America and takes on the search for an architect.

There is already a legendary story that Phyllis, along with Philip Johnson, curator of the architectural department of MoMA, made three lists: “those who can, but should not” (too boring), “those who should, but cannot” (insufficiently experienced ), "Those who can and should." In the last wereLe Corbusier,Frank Lloyd Wrightand Mies van der Rohe. And Mies won not only because by that time he managed to build two residential towers of glass and metal Lake Shore Drive and declare their vision of modern architecture, but also because of the whole trio of “those who can and should” had the reputation of the most peaceful and easy to communicate.

Misa Lambert accepted the project with enthusiasm and did not skimp on financing: bronze means bronze, marble means marble. Do you need to somehow solve the problem with randomly hanging blinds? They spoil the appearance of a glass building. Yes, let Mies take it. Then Mies orders the entire 38-story building to install blinds on the windows, which can only be in three positions: closed, open and closed exactly halfway. Nothing should disturb the perfect harmony of this building.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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About the artwork

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Art form: Architecture

Materials: Glass, Steel, Bronze, Marble

Date of creation: 1958


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