simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: American Radiator
2 ... 2 ...

Thursday, 3 January 2008

American Radiator

Many young people hated history class in my High School days - all the memorizing of facts. Even if your memory was quite good, why waste it leaning about things and events long gone, most with no remaining vestiges whatsoever? And things that seemingly had no relevance to our young lives. Growing up in a blue-collar factory town, there wasn't much history to pique a young person's interest anyway. Oh, I had plenty of interests - math, rocketry, German language, chess, origami, Africa, adventure, music, books (and girls). I belonged to plenty of clubs. But history was not part of the agenda at all. Things started to change when I started traveling to Europe and when I moved to NYC. Here, history is alive and well - it's with us everyday, every where you walk or look. To fully understand a building or place, one has to know the history and it's not long before one wants to know the history and likes history. Soon, your watching the History Channel (I wish my history teacher was alive to witness the success of this network).
Today's photo is a great illustration of all this. The American Radiator Building, now the American Standard Building, was
designed by architects Raymond Hood and John Howells and built in 1924 for the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Company. It is based on the Chicago Tribune building. The building is located at 40 w. 40th Street, on a block with many brownstones and Renaissance club facades from the turn of the century. It is on the south side of Bryant Park, thus affording unobstructed views of it from some distance. The stark contrast in colors is a distinguishing characteristic and a remarkable sight, well known to city dwellers who frequent the area. The brick is black - Hood wanted the appearance of a large mass, unbroken by dark windows in a building typically constructed using lighter colored stone. The building is topped with Gothic style pinnacles and terra-cotta friezes covered in gold. The design was to recall the furnaces of the time with their black iron and glowing embers. Another important feature of this building is that it is set back from the lot line - unattached on all four sides. This freestanding construction permits architectural treatment all around and allows more natural light into the interior. The base is black granite with bronze plating; the lobby black marble. The building is landmarked and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1998 it was sold and later converted to the Bryant Park Hotel. When you are in the neighborhood, make sure to take a look. This history serves us well, does it not?


Post a Comment