Contemporary Architecture

Skyscrapers in New York contemporary to The Chicago School

The Park Row Building, Robert H. Robertson, 1896-1899:

  • The main facade, clad in limestone, has its center part recessed, more prominently at the top six floors of the mass, and horizontally divided as the rows of pilasters between windows terminate at ornamental ledges at intervals.
  • The building is topped by twin 4-storey turrets, originally functioning as observatories and office space, whose domes are topped further by smaller, copper-clad lanterns with caryatids

Flatiron Building, Daniel Burnham, 1902:

  • A commercial office towers with a steel frame structure.
  • Radical use of a triangular plan form in a high rise building for the first time.
  • Façade was decorated with a series of arched openings.
  • The building is Italian Renaissance style and features tripartite construction.
  • Tripartite buildings are based on a Greek column with three distinct portions that resemble the base, shaft and capital.
  • The top capital portion features arches that are topped by an ornate cornice.
  • The middle portion is shaft-like.
  • The wide windows and limestone characterize the base portion.

The Municipal Building, McKim, Mead & White , 1909-1915:

  • The building was influenced by the fashionable “City Beautiful” movement of the 1890s which promoted plans for creating public buildings in landscaped parks.
  • The mid-part of the 25-storey tripartite facade is a U-shaped mass of austere light-toned granite over a high colonnade that forms the building’s base and separates a front yard from the sidewalk.
  • The top portion of the building features a colonnade of Corinthian columns and pilasters.
  • The 16-storey top, above the middle section of the building, consists of a set-back tiered lantern on top of a square base, flanked by four smaller pinnacle turrets.
  • At the height of 177 m stands the 6 m high statue Civic Fame by Adolph A. Weinman, New York City’s second largest statue after the Statue of Liberty.

Woolworth Building, Cass Gilbert, 1910 – 1913:

  • A 60 storey tower capped with an elaborately ornamented set-back Gothic top.
  • Rising from a 27-storey base, with limestone and granite lower floors, the tower is clad in white terra-cotta with the spire rising to the height of 241.5 m.
  • It was to be the tallest building in the world for 17 years.

The Equitable Building, Ernest R. Graham & Associates, 1912-1915 .

  • Built for Equitable Life Insurance, the building is forty-one stories high with no setbacks.
  • The Equitable Building is most important for the zoning law that resulted from its construction.
  • After this building was completed, the public complained about the little amount of light that reached the street, causing the city to feel dark and gloomy.
  • ~These complaints caused the passage of the city’s first zoning ordinance in 1916 that required buildings to be step-backed.

Chrysler Building, William Van Allen, 1928 to 1930:

  • One of the first uses of stainless steel over a   large exposed building surface.
  • Automobile-derived ornamental details.
  • Stainless steel metal ornamented top.

McGraw Hill Building, Raymond Hood, 1930:

  • Construction system used is terra cotta and glass cladding over steel frame.
  • Unusual and attractive use of substantial color on the exterior of a significant skyscraper.

Empire State Building by Shreve, Lamb, Harmon, 1931:

  • A building of 102 floors which is 381 meters high.
  • Effective use of setbacks to emphasize tower.
  • The mooring tower with modern encrustations.
  • Well placed lighting has been used to visually enhance the building after sunset.

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