Philip Johnson

Events, Midtown East, Starchitecture

The Wright auction house is gearing up for the July 26 auction of kitchen and dining room items from the iconic Four Seasons restaurant. As 6sqft previously reported, news that the restaurant would decamp from the building surfaced last summer, when Seagram Building owner Aby Rosen did not renew the lease for what has been seen as the quintessential Midtown “power lunch” spot for the last decades of the 20th century since it opened in 1959. The restaurant’s interiors feature custom designs by Pritzker Prize-winner Philip Johnson and furniture, tableware and other modernist treasures by the likes of by Seagram Building designer Mies Van der Rohe, Hans J. Wegner and others and custom-made Knoll furniture.

With an emotional forward by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, the auction catalog offers a preview of items up for auction with estimates. Included will be banquettes designed for the space by Philip Johnson Associates, Eero Saarinen Tulip stools, chairs and tables from the bar of the Grill Room, pans, flatware and dishes created for the restaurant by Ada Louise and L. Garth Huxtable and more.

Take a look at the items in the Four Seasons auction

Midtown East, Restaurants, Starchitecture

Four Seasons restaurant, Seagram Building, Philip Johnson

The Four Seasons: Photo via Le Travelist

News of the iconic restaurant’s impending demise surfaced last summer, as 6sqft previously reported, when Seagram Building owner Aby Rosen did not renew the lease for what has been seen as the quintessential Midtown “power lunch” spot for the last decades of the 20th century since it opened in 1959. The restaurant’s interiors feature designs by Pritzker Prize-winner Philip Johnson, furniture, tableware and other items by Seagram Building designer Mies Van der Rohe, Hans J. Wegner and others and custom-made Knoll furniture.

Those items will be included in the 500 lots headed for auction on July 26. Dezeen highlights critics’ frustration at what Aaron Betsky, leading US architecture critic and dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture rues as the dispersal of  “one of the rarest phenomena in Modernism: a place where the architecture, the furniture, the table settings, the service, the food, and even the clientele was of a piece.”

Find out more about why critics are so upset by the auction of the iconic restaurant’s interiors

Featured Story

Architecture, Features, Historic Homes

Aluminaire House Rear Facade

In a 1932 article in Modern Mechanix magazine, the design of this three-story Long Island “skyscraper house” was touted as the “latest in homes,” with an all-metal frame and glass walls. What the story doesn’t mention is that this little house in the ‘burbs was designed as a case study home by noted architects Albert Frey (who spent his early years in Le Corbusier‘s studio) and A. Lawrence Kocher. Known as the Aluminaire House, this diminutive dwelling is among the earliest examples of European-inspired modern architecture in the eastern U.S.. It was included by Philip Johnson in a MoMA exhibit in 1931 that later became the manifesto for the International Style of architecture–one of only six American buildings in the show to exemplify the style.

With the Coachella music festival in the recent spotlight, visions of Palm Springs-style desert homes have been popping up at every turn, and though this little skyscraper house couldn’t be further away geographically, its co-creator Albert Frey is known for establishing the “desert modernism” style exemplified in those iconic Palm Springs homes. And as with many ideas in the ultra-creative 1930s, the construction of this Modernist gem in 1931 was well ahead of its time.

Find out more about the story and future of Aluminaire House

Architecture, condos, Midtown East, New Developments

550 Madison Avenue, Sony Building, Robert A.M. Stern, Philip Johnson

550 Madison rendering via Dbox

Curbed spotted the freshly launched teaser site for the Chetrit Group’s Sony Tower conversion, now going by the name 550 Madison, which revealed several new details about the project. The most notable is that Robert A.M. Stern will be designing the “opulent” condos, and we assume this includes the $150 million triplex penthouse. Interestingly, Stern was once a student of Philip Johnson, who is responsible for the ground-breaking Sony Building. In all, there will be 113 condo units on floors 21-43, up from the previously reported 96, as well as a 170-key luxury Parisian hotel and high-end ground-floor retail.

More details this way

Architecture, Flushing, Queens

New York State Pavilion, Philip Johnson, Tent of Tomorrow, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

After 8,000 hours and 1,600 gallons of paint, the New York State Pavilion’s Tent of Tomorrow is camera-ready for its spot on Open House New York Weekend. The Daily News reports that Philip Johnson‘s iconic World’s Fair structure in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is now sporting a fresh coat of “American Cheese Yellow” paint. The job “included power-washing off decades of rust, applying primer and the historically accurate paint while working on a platform suspended 100 feet in the air,” and it cost $3 million. It’ll certainly be all over Instagram tomorrow and Sunday, but some ambitious architecture lovers have already gotten up close to the landmark.

Have a look at the pictures here

Architecture, Cool Listings, Upstate

45 Rigor Hill Road, Gefter-Press House, Ghent NY, The Glass House

This must be the week of glass houses: Yesterday we took a look at Philip Johnson’s Wiley House–built as a successor to his world-famous Glass House–which is on the market for $14 million; today we’re checking out the $1,950,000 Gefter-Press House, inspired by Johnson’s Glass House as well as Mies van der Rohe’s Farnswoth House in Plano, IL.

The U-shaped, single-story, all-glass-and-steel home was designed in 2007 by Columbia University professor and architect Michael Bell, “as an essay in transparency,” according to the listing. He had previously displayed a model of the home at a 1999 MoMA exhibit titled “The Un-Private House.” Philip Gefter, the former culture pictures editor at the New York Times, and his partner, filmmaker Richard Press, had seen the model, and called Bell when they were ready to build their own version of the modernist masterpiece on their 12-acre property in Ghent, NY.

Check out the entire home here

Architecture, Cool Listings, Interiors

Wiley House, Frank Gallipoli, Philip Johnson, New Canaan, mid-century modern architecture, 218 Sleepy Hollow Road,

The listing says it’s “perhaps the ultimate Mid-Century Modern home available in the world.” We can’t confirm or deny that statement, but we can assure you that this property, Philip Johnson’s Wiley House, is a pretty incredible piece of modern architecture. Located in New Canaan, the same Connecticut town as the architect’s world-famous Glass House, the Wiley House is considered the most “livable” of all Johnson’s works. It was built in the 1950s, sits on six acres of land, and is “a transparent glass rectangle cantilevered over a stone podium,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wall Street executive Frank Gallipoli bought the property for $1 million in 1994, a time when buying modernist homes was not as popular as it is today. He then spent millions more to restore the property, preserving Johnson’s original design, but adding green upgrades like heat-insulating glass panes and floor heating. Gallipoli told the Journal that living in the home is like being “up in a treehouse.”

Check out the rest of this amazing property

Interiors, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Midtown East, Restaurants

Four Seasons restaurant, Seagram Building, Philip Johnson

Photo via Le Travelist

Aby Rosen’s plans to update the Four Seasons has been squashed by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. According to Crain’s, the only upgrade that received a nod from the commission was a request to change the carpet. Bigger renovations, like replacing a non-original fissured glass partition with planters and to replace a fixed walnut panel between the public and private dining rooms with a movable one, were all rejected. “There is no good reason why they should make these changes,” said Meenakshi Srinivasan, the commission’s chairwoman, Crain’s reports. “There’s no rationale. The space could function perfectly well without these changes, so why do it?”

Find out more

Featured Story

Features, History, Midtown East, Restaurants

Four Seasons restaurant, Seagram Building, Philip Johnson

Photo via Le Travelist

As you probably already know, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the NYC landmarks law. And one of the ways the city is marking the historic event is with an exhibit at the New York School of Interior Design called Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York’s Landmark Interiors, which focuses on some of the 117 public spaces throughout the five boroughs that have been designated interior landmarks. In conjunction with this exhibit, Open House New York recently hosted an interior landmark scavenger hunt (for which 6sqft took eighth place out of 40 teams!), which brought participants to designated interior spaces in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn over the course of seven hours.

One of the spots we visited was the Four Seasons restaurant inside the famed Seagram Building. Through our scavenger hunt challenges here, we learned just how groundbreaking this restaurant was for its innovative design and role as the quintessential Midtown “power lunch” spot. But the Four Seasons, despite its landmark status, is facing an uncertain future.

Learn about the past, present, and future of the Four Seasons here

Architecture, Flushing, Queens

philip johnson tent of tomorrow, philip johnson, tent of tomorrow, new york world's fair

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Last Friday, we journeyed to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the Panorama Challenge at the Queens Museum. When the evening of trivia was over, we walked out into the park to find the Unisphere and the Museum, both World’s Fair relics, glowing. But in the distance, Philip Johnson‘s iconic New York State Pavilion was barely visible. That’s about to change, though, as electricians and preservationists have been testing new ways to illuminate the “modern ruin” for the first time in decades, according to the Daily News.

The update comes thanks to a wave of public support to restore the icon, as well as a renewed interest in its architectural merit and the history of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. As we wrote over the summer, the pavilion’s restoration task force secured $5.8 million for repairs, $4.2 million of which came from Mayor de Blasio. Now, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has pledged to get the site illuminated by the end of the year. “We will restore this national treasure into a visible icon befitting ‘The World’s Borough’ for generations of families and visitors to enjoy,” she said.

More details on the lighting project

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