, Fri, September 21, 2018
NYC Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach watching agents pour liquor into a sewer following a raid; via Wikimedia
One hundred years ago, the United States Congress passed a temporary Wartime Prohibition Act banning the sale of beverages with an alcohol content of over 1.28 percent. The 1918 amendment later led to full-blown Prohibition, which wouldn’t officially end until the early 1930s.
Find it difficult to imagine a spirit-less New York? In 1918, many New Yorkers, including city officials, also had a difficult time imagining a New York without alcohol. After all, with alcohol banned, the future remained uncertain for an estimated 9,000 hotel and saloon properties. The city itself stood to lose roughly $18 million in tax revenues related to the sale of liquor. In the end, however, New York not only survived the Prohibition Era but, indirectly, had its architecture altered.
Booze and bootlegging this way
The 21st century incarnation of the iconic Four Seasons restaurant set to open at 280 Park Avenue will bear no resemblance to the original, beyond the famous name and the sign that fronted the “Mad Men”-era power lunch spot in the Seagram Building, according to the restaurant’s co-owner, Julian Niccolini. The New York Post reports that the team behind the “new” Four Seasons–Niccolini and partner Alex von Bidder, the Bronfman family, landlord Steve Roth of Vornado and representatives of landlord SL Green Realty–approved the new restaurant’s design, by Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, last Friday.
A new femininity for the three-martini lunch?
On Saturday night, after what seems like an eternity of speculation followed by lamentation, the iconic Four Seasons hosted its last dinner. Last summer, Seagram Building owner Aby Rosen of RFR Realty chose not to renew the iconic restuarant‘s lease, and even before this, he faced criticism when he removed Picasso’s largest ever work, Le Tricorne, from the space. But despite the constant contention, the developer is speaking out, hoping to get a little credit for the work and money he has put into the office building.
“I see myself as a custodian,” he told the Times, referring to the fact that it costs RFR an estimated 20 percent more to maintain the landmarked structure than it would a typical tower of the same size and age. But experts say this is par for the course when one willingly purchases a designated building, which Rosen did in 2000 for $379 million.
Rosen breaks down the specifics
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
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
Despite its interior landmark status and role as the quintessential Midtown “power lunch” spot, the Four Seasons has been facing an uncertain future for the past year. In May, a small victory was had when the Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected Aby Rosen’s plans to re-conceptualize the Philip Johnson-designed space, but it was short-lived, as Crain’s now reports that the Four Seasons will close its doors on July 16th after serving New Yorkers since 1959. Rosen did not renew the lease and plans to replace the restaurant with what will be considered a more “hip” eatery. As the Post shares, of-the-moment restauranteurs Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznick (of the Major Food Group and trendy restaurants like Parm and Dirty French) signed to take over and partner with Rosen, who will increase the rent to $3 million a year.
The full story here
Norman Foster is a master when it comes to contextual thoughtfulness, and his latest creation slated to rise next door to Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Seagram Building is one to be admired. Called One Hundred East Fifty Third Street (it takes its name from its address), the 63-story tower has just released a new set of interior renderings to Dezeen which show what the world’s richest will be snapping up when units hit the market next week.
Have a closer look inside
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
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
- Hate your soulless office tower? Maybe you should blame the Seagram Building. [Fast Co. Design]
- Attend a lecture tonight to learn about the history and renovation of High Bridge, the oldest standing bridge in NYC. [NYC H2O]
- Michael Graves, postmodernist architect who designed towers and teakettles, dies at 80. [NYT]
- There’s some passive aggressive blog feuding happening in the East Village. [Bedford + Bowery]
- The city is looking for five artists to create mural for the “creepy” 191st Street 1 train tunnel. [DNAinfo]
Images: Seagram Building (L); Michael Graves (R)