Seagram Building

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Seagram Building
NewYorkSeagram 04.30.2008.JPG
General information
Type Office
Architectural style International Style
Location375 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10152
United States
Coordinates 40°45′30″N 73°58′22″W / 40.75833°N 73.97278°W / 40.75833; -73.97278 (Seagram Building)
Latitude and Longitude:

40°45′30″N 73°58′22″W / 40.75833°N 73.97278°W / 40.75833; -73.97278 (Seagram Building)
Owner Aby Rosen
Roof516 ft (157 m)
Technical details
Floor count38 [1]
Floor area849,014 sq ft (78,876.0 m2) [2]
Design and construction
Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Philip Johnson
Structural engineer Severud Associates
Seagram Building
NYC Landmark  No. 1664
Location375 Park Ave., New York, New York
Coordinates 40°45′30″N 73°58′22″W / 40.75833°N 73.97278°W / 40.75833; -73.97278 (Seagram Building)
Area1.4 acres (0.57 ha)
Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Philip Johnson
Architectural styleInternational Style
NRHP reference  No. 06000056 [4]
NYCL  No.1664
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 24, 2006
Designated NYCLOctober 3, 1989

The Seagram Building is a skyscraper at 375 Park Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd Streets, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The building, including its stone-faced lobby, bronze-and-glass exterior, and plaza, were designed by German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, with Kahn & Jacobs as associate architects. Philip Johnson designed the interior of the Four Seasons and Brasserie restaurants, while Severud Associates were the structural engineering consultants.

The building, completed in 1958, stands 515 feet (157 m) tall with 38 stories, and it is one of the most notable examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a prominent instance of corporate modern architecture. It was designed as the headquarters for the Canadian distillers Joseph E. Seagram & Sons with the active interest of Phyllis Lambert.

The building is owned by Aby Rosen's RFR Holdings. The Seagram Building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been designated as an official city landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.


The building was designed by German-American Internationalist architect Mies van der Rohe, [5] [6] with Kahn & Jacobs as associate architects. [5] Mies was given an unlimited budget by Phyllis Lambert, a member of the Bronfman family and the daughter of Seagram CEO Samuel Bronfman. [7] [1] This structure which resulted, and the style in which it was built, had enormous influences on American architecture. One of the style's characteristic traits was to express or articulate the structure of buildings externally. [8]

External video
video icon Smarthistory - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building [9]

On completion in 1958, the Seagram Building's $41 million construction cost made it the world's most expensive skyscraper at the time, [1] due to the use of costly, high-quality materials including bronze, travertine, and marble, as well as lavish interior decoration. The interior was designed to assure cohesion with the external features, repeated in the glass and bronze furnishings and decorative scheme.


The Seagram Building was built of a steel frame, from which non-structural glass walls were hung. Mies preferred the steel frame to be visible to all; however, American building codes at the time required that all structural steel be covered in a fireproof material, usually concrete, because improperly protected steel columns or beams may soften and fail in confined fires. [10] Concrete hid the structure of the building, something Mies wanted to avoid if possible, so Mies used non-structural bronze-toned I-beams to suggest structure instead. These are visible from the outside of the building, and run vertically, like mullions, surrounding the large glass windows. This method of construction using an interior reinforced concrete shell to support a larger non-structural edifice has since become commonplace. As designed, the building used 1,500 tons of bronze in its construction. [11]

One aspect of a facade which Mies disliked was the disordered irregularity when window blinds are drawn, since people using different windows will draw blinds to different heights. As such, Mies specified window blinds which only operated in three positions: fully open, halfway open/closed, or fully closed.


Structural features

The 38-story structure combines a steel moment frame and a steel and reinforced concrete core for lateral stiffness. The concrete core shear walls extend up to the 17th floor, and diagonal core bracing (shear trusses) extends to the 29th floor. [12]

According to Severud Associates, the structural engineering consultants, it was the first tall building to use high strength bolted connections, the first tall building to combine a braced frame with a moment frame, one of the first tall buildings to use a vertical truss bracing system and the first tall building to employ a composite steel and concrete lateral frame. [13]


The Seagram Building and the Lever House across Park Avenue, set the architectural style for New York City skyscraper for several decades. It appears as a simple bronze box, set back from Park Avenue by a large, open granite plaza. Mies intended to create an urban open space in front of the building, despite the luxuriousness of the idea, and it became a very popular gathering area. The plaza was provided as part of the 1961 Zoning Resolution, which superseded the 1916 Zoning Resolution and offered incentives for developers to install " privately owned public spaces" like that of the Seagram Building.

The plaza was the setting of a planning study by sociologist William H. Whyte, whose film Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, produced in conjunction with the Municipal Art Society, records the daily patterns of people socializing around the plaza. [14]


The building was home to The Four Seasons Restaurant, designed by the architects, and Brasserie, by Diller + Scofidio. The interiors of the restaurants were designed by Philip Johnson. [15] It now hosts three restaurants, The Grill, The Pool, and The Lobster Club, all of which are owned by Major Food Group.



Joseph Seagram sold the building in 1979 to the New York City-based Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association for $70.5 million. [16] It was in turn sold at the height of the new millennium real estate boom to New York City real estate investor Aby Rosen for $375 million in 2000. [1] As of 2013, the building is owned by Rosen's RFR Holdings. [17]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d Bagli, Charles V. (October 12, 2000). "On Park Avenue, Another Trophy Changes Hands". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  2. ^ "375 Park Avenue, 10022". New York City Department of City Planning. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  3. ^ "Seagram Building". SkyscraperPage.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. November 2, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Seagram Building" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. October 3, 1989. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Lambert, Phyllis, ed. (2001). Mies in America. Harry N. Abrams. pp. 373–406.
  7. ^ "Why Green Architecture Hardly Ever Deserves the Name". ArchDaily. July 3, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  8. ^ "The Architectural Project - Define "high tech detailing"". 1958. Retrieved January 6, 2008.[ dead link]
  9. ^ "Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building". Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  10. ^ Hool & Johnson (1920). Handbook of Building Construction. McGraw Hill. pp.  338.
  11. ^ "New Skyscraper on Park Avenue To Be First Sheathed in Bronze; 38-Story House of Seagram Will Use 3,200,000 Pounds of Alloy in Outer Walls Colored for Weathering". The New York Times. March 2, 1956. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  12. ^ "Structure and Design", G.G. Schierle
  13. ^ Severud Associates website, accessed August 24, 2009
  14. ^ Vimeo, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
  15. ^ "Four Seasons & Brasserie Restaurants, Seagram Building, NYC". NYIT Architectural History. May 4, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2013 – via YouTube.
  16. ^ Dunlap, David W. (April 21, 1988). "Seagram Landmark Move Is Backed". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  17. ^ Williams, Alex (May 29, 2013). "Making His Life the Party". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  18. ^ Clayton Dubilier & Rice, LLC - Contact

Further reading

External links