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Seagram Building - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe



Project Specifications:

Location:

375 Park Avenue, New York, United States

Height:

157 m

Design:

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe & Philip Johnson

Year:

1954-1958

Area:

78,876.0 m2

Category:

Office tower

Floors:

39

 

The Seagram Building, designed by Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1957, is a 157-meter tall tower located at 375 Park Avenue in New York City. Mies' first attempt at constructing a tall building was the first skyscraper to use steel and concrete lateral frames. The building's setback from the city grid, which has since become a common feature in office buildings, was an innovative introduction to public urban space in a project by Mies.

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his office skyscraper represents the culmination of Mies' decade-long pursuit of a purified form of expression for high-rise buildings, exemplified in his earlier projects such as the Lake Shore Drive Apartments and the Paseo del Commonwealth and Esplanade departments in Chicago. Its use of a few carefully chosen elements to achieve architectural elegance is a testament to Mies' rationalist mentality, and it is considered one of the most beautiful works of twentieth-century architecture.


The Seagram Building serves as the headquarters of the Seagram corporation, which was originally owned by a wealthy bootlegger who made a fortune selling alcohol during Prohibition.

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Mies van der Rohe's design for the Seagram Building includes a unique detail: instead of occupying all of the available lands, he chose to leave a square adjacent to the building, creating a sense of scale through the interplay of full and empty space (building versus square) and the proportions of the building itself. This is a rare feature in a city like New York.

 

Design Philosophy :


The Seagram Building symbolizes the contemporary industrial world and embodies the architectural philosophy "Less is more," demonstrating that a simple building can be just as impactful as one with more complex designs. It represents a blend of rationalist architecture, the International Style, and the contributions of the Chicago school. Influenced by the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements, the building reflects minimalism and functionalism through its use of industrial materials and emphasis on the functional utility of structural elements.

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In addition to establishing a typology for modern corporate buildings, the Seagram Building also incorporates classical and gothic elements. Its symmetrical plan follows a disciplined 8.5-meter grid structure and features a tripartite division of the tower into a base, shaft, and capital. The rhythmic regularity of its columns and bays on the ground floor, and the use of bronze, reflect classical influences.


Mies designed the Seagram Building in the style of ancient columns, with a base, shaft, and capital. The basement, which sits on a lavish marble plaza with dry fountains, houses the lobby. However, the ground floor is raised on piles, with the shaft of the building consisting of a series of undifferentiated office floors. The top of the building is expressed plastically as a triple-height volume, continuing the strict volume of the tower and serving as the pinnacle of the entire structure. To access the plaza area, one must pass through a staircase between two large pillars or pedestals, where symmetrical sheets of water flow, a feature reminiscent of classical antiquity.


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The building's verticality, achieved through the use of I beams, and its cruciform plan in the tall shaft, as well as its finishes of bronze, marble, and travertine, all reference gothic style. Overall, the Seagram Building's simple yet elegant design effectively illustrates Mies' motto of "Less is more."

 

Material & Façade :

Due to fire regulations in place in 1954, concrete was used as a structural material inside and outside the building. Mies van der Rohe's signature minimalist style is particularly evident in the "curtain wall mullions," which are special double I-beam profiles added at the ends of the outer wing edges to create a subtle emphasis on shape.


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Mies' attention to detail and refinement is also reflected in the choice of materials, such as the metal profiles and panels in bronze and light pink glass, which give the building a distinct New York charm while still adhering to the functional and minimal aesthetics of the International Style. The facade of the building is primarily steel and glass, with the steel frame and steel and reinforced concrete core providing lateral stiffness.


To meet American building codes, Mies included non-structural bronze I-beams on the facade, which not only suggest the presence of the steel structure but also enhance the verticality of the building. Non-structural glass walls hung from the steel frame, make up the exterior facade, allowing for a sense of freedom in spatial composition and the ability to connect the building to the surrounding landscape.

 

The construction :


It is a rectangular building supported on piles. The building's structural system consists of a steel frame with a reinforced concrete core providing lateral stiffness. The facade is primarily steel and glass, with non-structural bronze I-beams added to the exterior to meet American building codes and to enhance the verticality of the building. Non-structural glass walls hung from the steel frame, make up the exterior facade.


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The building's foundation is formed by a series of piles, which support the ground floor, and is raised above street level. The basement contains the lobby, while the upper floors are occupied by offices. The building is divided into a base, shaft, and capital, following the traditional design of ancient columns. The top of the building is expressed plastically as a triple-height volume, continuing the strict volume of the tower and serving as the pinnacle of the entire structure.


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In addition to its innovative use of steel and concrete and its sleek and minimal exterior, the Seagram Building is also notable for its setback from the city grid, which allows for the integration of public urban space. The building's plaza, with its dry fountains and symmetrical sheets of water flowing between two large pillars or pedestals, adds to its classical charm.


Overall, the Seagram Building is a masterpiece of modern architecture, exemplifying Mies van der Rohe's refined design philosophy and his commitment to functionality and simplicity.


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Drawings :

 




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