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|Location||New York, New York map|
|Date||1932 to 1940 timeline|
|Building Type||skyscraper complex, commercial office towers|
|Construction System||steel frame, stone cladding|
|Notes||Family of forms example, a fine urban ensemble, with a famous sunken plaza with outdoor skating rink. With others, including Wallace K. Harrison, Max Abramovitz, the firms of Reinhard & Hormeister and Corbett, Harrison, & MacMurray.|
|Discussion||Rockefeller Center Commentary
"Construction of the Rockefeller Center America's largest privately owned business and amusement complex of the pre-war period began in 1931. In total, ten different units were constructed on the twelve-acre site, the last of which (the National Cash Register Company's offices) was completed in 1940. Situated on a block that lies between New York's busy 5th and 6th Avenues and 48th and 51st Streets, the development represents the culmination of pre-war skyscraper design and comprehensive planning. Public and private activities are brought together in the scheme and the whole design creates an atmosphere that is a direct and positive contribution to urban life. The great RKO motion picture theatre was the first building completed (designed by the main architects with Corbett, Harrison) and MacMurray, Hood and Fouilhoux) and opened in 1932. It seats over 3,500 patrons and has a full stage."
Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. p257.
The sunken plaza was originally a failure, unable to retain the intended retail tenants, and it remained a problem until the skating rink, a great novelty made possible by new refrigeration technology, was added as a somewhat desparate experiment. The skating rink is now a renowned and beloved focus of the complex.
Kevin Matthews, based on National Public Radio news report, April 1994.
American Institute of Architects 25 Year Award, 1969
Sources on Rockefeller Center
Francis D. K. Ching. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979. ISBN 0-442-21535-5. perspective drawing of lower plaza, p127. A nice graphic introduction to architectural ideas. Updated 1996 edition available at Amazon.com
Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1702.043.
Kenneth Frampton and Yukio Futagawa. Modern Architecture 1920-1945. New York: Rizzoli, 1983. aerial and plaza photos, plan diagram, p336-337. Available at Amazon.com
Lawrence A. Martin, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, September 1993. PCD.3235.1012.0545.062. PCD.3235.1012.0545.057.
Toshino Nakamura, ed. "New York Art Deco Skyscrapers", A+U Extra Edition. April 1987. p5. color drawing of exterior perspective, p7. perspective drawing of complex, p148.
Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. New York: Facts on File, 1990. NA 680.S517. ISBN 0-8160-2438-3. p157.
Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper. American Architecture, Volume 1. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. aerial photo, f266, p331. An excellent survey of American architecture. Reprint Edition available at Amazon.com
Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.
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