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Although the Seagram Building wasn’t the first all stainless-steel and glass building constructed on Park Avenue (that distinction goes to Lever House across the street), it’s one of the finest and most elegant examples of curtain-wall architecture in the world. Commissioned in 1958 by the Seagram Company to be used as its headquarters, the structure was designed by prolific office architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe while the lobby and other internal aspects were designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, Philip Johnson. Johnson also worked on the dining room of the Four Seasons, one of the two famous restaurants housed within the structure. In fact, The Four Seasons and Brasserie, the skyscraper’s other restaurant, are as notable as the building itself. When Brasserie opened, it was the only formal restaurant in the area open late and thus brought nightlife to this formerly daytime-oriented district. The Four Seasons, notorious for its power lunches, is also the prime meeting point for after-work cocktails at the bar. For casual diners, the Seagram Building also offers a plaza in front with two giant fountains and steps for brown-baggers. This plaza was also the impetus behind a major change in New York City building codes. Prior to the Seagram Building’s construction, all buildings had to recess at a certain height, which was determined by the total height of the structure. These buildings, like the Empire State and the Chrysler, became known as “wedding cake” style structures. Seagram’s smooth surface design (unique at the time) incited tempers about maintaining the integrity of the New York skyline. To make amends for the view, builders had to provide public space on the ground floor, as did all other buildings that shared the Seagram’s design from then on.The Plaza
Avoid the lunchtime crowds and come in the late afternoon to this prime spot and gaze at the bronze building above you.