Friday, November 6, 2009

American Radiator Building

Rising above Bryant Park, in New York City, is the magnificent American Radiator Building (also known as the American Standard Building). Laying in the shadows of the more famous Empire State Building, this dramatic 23 story skyscraper has stunning art deco details in gold and black brick on a neo-gothic form.
Designed by architects Raymond Hood and John Howells, Hood based the design on his famous submission with Eliel Saarinen to the Chicago Tribune Building competition.
The American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Company built the structure as their headquarters (Hood had designed radiator covers for them for years) but later sold it to American Standard Company and then it passed on to Clio Biz. Since 1998 it has been the Bryant Park Hotel. I think this building really sums up all of the expectations one has of a glamorous skyscraper in New York.The original bronze and marble entrance on 40th street: the canopy is of course not original.Rene Paul Chamberlain did all of the gold glazed terra cotta sculptural reliefs. I love that the windows are true to the originals with steel casements (due in part, no dout, to the buildings landmark status).
Georgia O'Keefe immortalized the building shortly after it was built in 1927 in her painting below, "The Radiator Building at Night." Don't forget to look up next time you're in Bryant Park!

21 comments:

Michael Mattison said...

Beautiful building, more than worthy of a write-up.
Hey, nice blog.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thanks Michael! I've always admired this building and was glad to finally do some research into its' history!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

This building always leaves me breathless when I walk past. The dark colour is astounding; then there's the glitter. Broodingly glamorous, no?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

AAL, exactly - I think it's on my top 5 list of NY buildings. I like it even more than the Carbon and Carbide building in Chicago which is similar but simpler in form but with emerald green rather than black brick.

VictoriaArt said...

Oh, it's magnificent and such American - New York - beauty ....
Love it and the location, fantastic!

Janet said...

Some things just never go out of style...

Renee Finberg said...

i love this building and i am a bit jealous that i am not there too.

xx

Michelle said...

Michael,
you walk us through your write up man! wonderful...looking forward for such write ups from you ...

--------------
michelle
Steel Buildings

Karena said...

This building is breathtaking. I love art deco design, and saw the image of the work of art by Georgia O'Keeffe in one of her biographies several years ago.

home before dark said...

LIt up a night it has a pagoda-esque quality about it. The Radiator Building at Night. Just that group of words together is amazing. So glad you are a design geek.Keep your eyes open!

pve design said...

One of my favorite buildings in the city along with one of my favorite artists- Georgia! Makes me want to try a little night painting!
pve

Ashfield Hansen Design Inc. said...

Great post. This building is truly one of the unsung heroes of the NYC skyline!

David @ Ashfield Hansen Design

columnist said...

I was not familiar with this piece of architecture, so I'm especially grateful for your post on it. I find it utterly beautiful, with its mix of black and gold, like an Empire clock.

Pigtown-Design said...

heading up tomorrow, so will check it out.

Anonymous said...

what an amazing building, like something from a batman movie, very 'Gotham city'.

Debra Healy said...

This time in history always makes me think of the Hugh Ferris renderings. The metropolis of tomorrow with its massive soaring vision.

(IN)DECOROUS TASTE said...

I know that building! I used to eat lunch in Bryant Park and admire this building every day!

The O'Keefe is glorious- it's one of my favorites. Where I've always felt "eh" about her flowers, I do love her skyscrapers! Funny that Stieglitz told her that these buildings were too masculine a subject for her to paint, and that she should stick with flowers. (Creep.)

Lauren

charles said...

Oh, this post brings back memories. I worked in this building from 1977-1985. The main elevator bank went to the 16th floor (beautiful highly polished slate) where you would change to a single elevator to the executive offices (17-22). The hotel reconfigured the elevators into one extended bank and now it's one big ride from lobby to the sky.

charles
carrollcm@mac.com

Michael said...

I work for the Bryant Park Hotel and we are all proud to work in this building.

Thank you for the great write-up.

Laura John said...

i love this building, thanks for write about it.

Landmarks and Follies said...

A great post with wonderful images!

There is one error though.

"Hood based the design on his famous submission with Eliel Saarinen to the Chicago Tribune Building competition."

Hood and Howells WON the Tribune Tower competition and their design still stands today.

Saarinen's second place entry, however, turned out to be a much more influential design.

Hood did base his design for American Radiator on the Saarinen entry but they never worked together on the Tribune contest.

By the way, if Ray Hood had lived a few more decades I think he could have moved "modern" architecture in a much more humane direction than what we got.

Oh, well I guess we'll never know!