Famous sights – Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center, constructed between 1931 and 1940 is one of the most recognizable landmarks in New York City.  The businessman an philanthropist. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. assmbled a professional group that included the architect and designer Raymond Hood, the real estate specialist John Todd and his associates Andrew Reinhard and Henry Hofmeister.  The urban designer Harvey Corbett and his partner Wallace Harrison completed the team.

Rockefeller Center consists of 21 buildings, the first date from between 1931 and 1940, others were added to the complex in successive building phases.  The GE Building (30 Rockefeller Plaza) is at the center of the original complex.  Its attenuated form with long veritcal lines are characteristic of the Art Deco period, and was in part due to the architect and Rockefeller’s wishes that as much natural light as possible entered the building.  The long vertical sections are accentuated by stacks of narrow windows, one over the other.  It  is approached from 5th Avenue walking past the “Channel Gardens” between the Maison Française and the British Empire Buildings, dedicated in memory of Dr. Hosack, the owner of the Elgin Botanical Gardens.  A private road, Rockfeller Plaza runs north-south and connects another group of buildings. All of the spaces were carefully designed so as not to overwhelm the visitor.  The buildings are steel core faced in Indiana limestone, and setbacks are used to create open spaces and to subtly articulate the buildings. Once again verticality is emphasized.  The lower buildings had roof gardens to provide private areas for rest and relaxation within the office complex, as well as giving those on higher floors a pleasant view.

The Center is also filled with large public works of art, including scuplture, murals, and painted reliefs, all focused on the theme “New Frontiers.” These include Paul Manship’s, Prometheus Bringing Fire to Mankind, 1934, a gilded bronze scuplture that seems to float above the famous skating rink; and reliefs by Lee Lawrie expressing the idea that wisdom and knowledge of the universe will bring security and fulfillment.  The interior the GE Building has murals by José Maria Sert of man’s search for immortality through his conquest of space and time covering the walls of the main lobby.


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