Urban Fold

The Story Behind “The Millennium’s Most Important Building”

To coincide with the release of a new book detailing the creation of Mies van der Rohe's renowned Seagram Building, Mark Lamster speak with its author Phyllis Lambert - one of the key figures in the building's development.

Lambert, the daughter of Seagram's founder Samuel Bronfman, was just 26, recently divorced and living in Paris, when she took the reins of her father's plans for a New York skyscraper in 1953. Her book, “Building Seagram,” which is being released next week by the Yale University Press, "reveals many new details about a building that remains among the most studied of the modern era."

Figures in the sordid history of the landmark building's creation include Philip Johnson, Eero Saarinen, Frank Lloyd Wright, Morris Lapidus, Mark Rothko, Constantin Brancusi, Pablo Picasso and, of course, Mies, whom New York State authorities claimed lacked the proper qualifications to practice architecture.

“'When she got the Seagram Building built, it was the first time you really realized that architecture brought something to the city that didn’t exist,' said the architect Ricardo Scofidio, a partner in the firm Diller Scofidio & Renfro, which redesigned the Brasserie, the Seagram’s less rarefied restaurant, in 2000. 'It really turned the city around, and for architects it suddenly raised their status in the eyes of clients.'”

Full Story: A Personal Stamp on the Skyline

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