THE ROCKEFELLER CENTER
Chappel 2 (1947-1974)
THE TIME & LIFE
Sixth Avenue building boom was begun
Time & Life Building was the first great expansion of the Rockefeller Center, to the west of the Avenue of the Americas, that marked the beginning of the metamorphosis of Sixth Avenue in a new modern and elegant corporate skyscraper district, that begun this expansion to the west.
According with the spanish edition of LIFE Magazine, on May 2, 1960:
“The new building is first of the Rockefeller Center that does not belong in exclusive form to the Rockefeller family. The Time Inc. company is simultaneously co-owner (45%) and main tenement (20 floors). For New York, building location, on the west of the other 15 Rockefeller Center's buildings, means a victory in the persistence to modernize Sixth Avenue, to which late mayor Fiorello LaGuardia gave the name of Avenue of the Americas. Until now, most of the skyscrapers raised in Manhattan from the end World War II, were concentrate in the city's East side. TIME-LIFE Building is the first in breaking ranks towards West” (Joel, Yale. A new house for `LIFE'. Rockefeller Center crossed the Avenue of the Americas. LIFE EN ESPAÑOL. May 2, 1960. Page 51.)
Henry Luce and Briton Haden founded Time magazine, that its first issue was appear on March 3 1923 and was a instant succeful in the politic magazine market. When Life Magazine was born, in 1936, Time and Fortune magazined was the most famous and influential politic and financial magazines in America and arround the world.
In November 23, 1936, Life Magazine was born and was quickly positioned as the most famous picture magazine on the world. In this time Time & Life acording with Rockefeller to occupy the new 33-story One Rockefeller Plaza Building, that was under construction, on the south of Center's Lower Plaza. In this time until the new building were under completed, Time & Life's offices were on the Chrysler Building.
Time & Life offices on Chrysler Building. 1937
The old Time-Life building offices on One Rockefeller Plaza. 1938-1959. Since december 1959, this building were known as General Dynamics Building.
View of Midtown Manhattan looking East from old Time & Life Building, when LIFE staff were moving to its new offices on this new Sixth Avenue skyscraper. 1959. Photo: Yale Joel. LIFE Magazine.
In December 1956, Time Inc. announced to the press its intentions to build a office builling in Sixth Avenue between West 50th to 51st Streets, with the financial support of Rockefeller family, who acquired the land, east to the legendary Roxy theater in name of the Center Corporation.
Sixth Avenue: from slums to Corporate City
Until mid 1950s the Sixth Avenue west side between 40th to 54th Street and north of Rockefeller Center was outstanding a zone of small and ruinous 19th Century slums and small lunch restaurants. With the success of the Rockefeller Center and the demolition of the Sixth Avenue "El", in 1939, begun the avenue's modernization project. One of the first steps were in 1945, when the mayor Fiorello LaGuardia renamed Sixth Avenue as "Avenue of the Americas". From the 1940's, avenue projects announced to turn the avenue to a new skyscrapering district, but it was not but until 1956-1958 when this destiny were reality.
The Garment District area of West Sixth Avenue from 34th to 40 Streets from Empire State Building showing the Elevated. 1938. During 1920's many 15 to 30-story small Art Deco skyscrapers were built in this zone for the Garment industry. The "El" were demolished one year after.
The west side of Avenue of the Americas, north of 40th Street, and the East Side between Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center and north of Rockefeller Center area, were dominated by old slums and lunch restaurants, small shops and diamond jewerlies. The picture were taken from Empire State Building in 1938.
Between 1956 and 1958 the 34-story Union Dime Savings Bank Building on 1065 Avenue of the Americas, designed by Kahn & Jacobs, was built opposite Bryant Park. This building, with the announcement to construct to the Time & Life Building, as part of a new Rockefeller Center expansion towards the west, the future of the Sixth Avenue as a new corporative center were assured.
The Avenue of the Americas from the Empire State Building in 1958. The building at far right of the picture is the new 34-story Union Dime Savings Bank Building. Photo dhelling01. Flickr.com. Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dhellin...21067/sizes/l/
The Avenue of the Americas. 1959. Photo. The Rolingers. Flickr.com. Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rolinge...77251/sizes/o/
From "TV City" to Time & Life Building.
Alan Balfour (1978) says about the plans for Time & Life Building:
“In 1953, the Center Corporation acquired 82,000 square feet of land on the block west of Sixth Avenue between 50th to 51st Streets as a site for future expansion (The Sixth Avenue El had yet to be removed.) The old Roxy Theater on 50th Street and Seventh Avenue was acquired in 1956. The acquisitions were related to a concept proposed in 1953 for the creation of “TV City” on the west side of Sixth Avenue. David Sarnoff was a first interested, but as it became clear that television would depend much more on film than on live performance, NBC withdrew” (Balfour, Alan. Rockefeller Center. Architecture as Theater. New York. McGraw-Hill. 1978. Page 230).
According with Robert A. M. Stern (1997):
“The postwar destiny of the Avenue of the Americas as a grand corporate boulevard was ensured in December 1956, when Rockefeller Center, Inc. made a bold move, proposing a new headquarters for one of the center’s prime tenants, Time, Inc., on a large site between Fiftieth and Fifty-first streets on the west side of the avenue and extending 410 feet toward Seventh Avenue. For about ten years, Time, Inc. had been considering a move from its 1937 Rockefeller Center building. In 1946 it had worked with William Zeckendorf to develop the site of the Marguery Hotel, at 270 Park Avenue, with a new building, retaining Harrison & Abramovitz, who proposed a three-story podium filling the site, surmounted by an aggressively massed thirty-five-story superslab running east-west and a series of shorter wings set a forty-five degree angles to the grid. The concept and the site were rejected” (Stern, Robert. A.M. Mellins, Thomas. Fishman, David. New York 1960. Architecture and urbanism between the Second World War and the Bicentennial. New York. The Monacelli Press. 1997. Pages 397-398).
“Time, Inc. later considered moving to a suburb of Philadelphia or to Westchester Country in New York but decided to remain in Manhattan because of the city’s transportation and communication facilities. The company continued to consider relocating to Park Avenue, which Rockefeller Center’s management felt would be an ever greater blow to the prestige of the aging complex than a move to the suburbs. To avoid such a fate, a new corporation, Rock-Time, Inc., was formed in 1956 whereby Time, Inc. and Rockefeller Center, Inc. because equity partners in a new building to be built on the Sixth Avenue site, which Rockefeller Center, Inc, was acquired in 1953. Once home to a long-since-demolished trolley car barn, the site now consisted of a motley collection of small buildings housing offices, restaurants and shops, as well as a parking lot. Construction of the building began in May 1957 and it was opened in December 1959” (Stern. 1997. Page 398).
Model of Time & Life Building. 1957.
In July 2, 1957 actress Marilyn Monroe inaugurated the Sidewalk Superintendents Club in the construction site of the Time & Life Building, as a Time & Life's. public relations act Finally, the building were completed in December of 1959.
Marilyn Monroe open the Time & Life Building's Sidewalk Superintendents Club. July 2, 1957. Photo. LIFE Magazine.
Night view of theTime & Life Building under construction from RCA Building. December 1958.
The Time & Life Building under construction from Empire State Building. January 1959. Photo: What Makes The Pie Shops Tick. Flickr.com. Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hollywo...50016/sizes/l/
The Monolithic Skyscraper
Robert A.M. Stern says about of Time & Life Building:
“The Time & Life Building, named after the company’s best-known publications, was designed by Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris. It contained 1.4. million square feet of space and rose without setbacks for forty-eight floors, making it the city’s tallest single shaft. An 83-foot-wide, 170 foot long landscaped plaza at the site’s southeast corner was defined along its north edge by an eight-story, L shaped base structure that wrapped around the tower’s north and west sides; on the west, the tower was also setback thirty feet from Fiftieth Street to create a sidewalk mall. The new building was provided with an underground connection to the subway as well as a link to the original Rockefeller Center concourse system” (Stern.1997. Fragment).
The Time & Life Building from RCA Building. Photo. Yale Joel. Life Magazine.
Elevation of the building. Time & Life Building (Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris. 1959).
“The tower’s sense of height was enhanced by the use of tapered, buttresslike limestone-faced exterior structural columns that framed the gray-tinted windows and the aluminum-mesh-backed spandrels. This arrangement of exterior perimeter columns, ultimately derived from Howe & Lescaze’s Philadelphia Saving Fund Society Building (1932), was part of a daring structural system that permitted largely column-free, 28,000-square-foot office floors, far and away the largest tower floors built in New York since World War II. In order to achieve the Time & Life Building’s tremendous bulk in an undifferentiated tower, Rockefeller Center had acquired and demolished the Roxy Theater, which shared the block. By adding to the total size of the site, not only was more square footage permitted, but, under the zoning, it could be packaged as a sheer tower as long as it occupied no more than 25 percent of the combined lot” (Stern. 1997. Fragment).
The Time & Life Building and the Rockefeller Center from Empire State Building. Photo: Yale Joel. LIFE Magazine.
The Time & Life Building from Times Square looking northeast. 1960. Photo: Andreas Feininger. LIFE Magazine.
One of main Time & Life Building's attractives, besides the monolithic skyscraper, is this sunken plaza, that, with the Seagram Building, influenced for the modification of the Zoning Law in 1961.
Paved in marble terrace in waves white and gray, the Time & Life's plaza provides to the visitor and the citizens by an ideal space to take a rest and to enjoy the freshness of its waters of the spurt of this mushroom-shapped fountains . In the corner of 50th Street the plaza provide of a access to the Subway, as well as to the underground corridors that communicate it with the rest of the Rockefeller Center's buildings.
According with Stern (1997):
“The building’s plaza, its principal public feature, was welcoming rather than formidable, with four mushroom jets splashing water into a basin that was surrounded by a low parapet providing skating, as well as other seats and planning. Wallace K. Harrison’s decision to pave the plaza and the building’s lobby with undulating waves of dark gray and white terrazzo, a design idea he borrowed from the Copacabana district of Rio de Janeiro seemed more justificable as an illustration of ‘good neighbor’ ideals of the Avenue of the Americas Association than as a complement to the building’s otherwise strict geometry. The Cariocan floor pattern inside the grandly scaled, sixteen-foot-high lobby also seemed out of place. Echoing the practice at Rockefeller Center, contemporary artist were called upon to help decorate the public spaces: at the eastern end of the elevation core, Fritz Glarner provided a mural that recalled Piet Mondrian’s work, and at the western end was Josef Albers’s geometric work Portals” (Stern. 1997. Page 400).
The Time & Life Building's Plaza. 1963. Photo. Life Magazine.
Refreshing in the Time & Life Building's plaza. Photo: LIFE Magazine
The observation restaurant and "La Fonda del Sol" Latin-American restaurant.
But also the Time & Life Building counted on other attractives: in the 48-floor, two restaurants were shared the space.
In 48-floor south side of Time & Life Building were a restaurant-bar, in the style of the Rainbow Room of the RCA Building and that offered impressive views of New York, mainly towards the south where it was possible to be contemplated to the Empire State Building and the south of the Sixth Avenue and Times Square area, before the construction of the Exxon Building and other buildings in the zone would obstruct part of panoramic at late 1960s and early 1970s.
In that place, in 1964, Pop artist, Andy Warhol filmed the Empire State Building during 24 hours for a Pop Art exhibition called “Empire” and that fragments of that work of art can be enjoyed in youtube.com.
Although closed the public, even in the 21st century, the clerks who work in the building can raise and enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
View of Manhattan in all directions from the new Time & Life Building 48-floor observatory. April 1960. Photo: Yale Joel. LIFE Magazine.
View to the north, showing Central Park and Sixth Avenue with the 46-story Equitable Life Building under construction.
To the east showing Rockefeller Center.
To the south, showing Chrysler, Chanin and Empire State Buildings and Garment and Times Square area.
To the West. Times Square Theater District.
In the other extreme of the building was a luxurious restaurant specialized in Latin American traditional cousine was inaugurated in 1960 with the name of "La Fonda del Sol", where visitors could enjoy an ample range of delicious of the region, in a colorful atmosphere and folkloric. Famous latin chefs using traditional utensils prepared many foods, especially Mexican cousine like tamales, poblano mole, pozole, enchiladas, stuffed chocolate, mezcal and chili peppers; but also the "Ropa Vieja" or meat with vegetables and Tomato sauce of Cuba, Argentine steaks, pasties of shrimps of Brazil, among others delights. Unfortunately the restaurant closed its doors in 1971 and its place now occupies the offices of a bank.
Picture of La Fonda del Sol Restaurant in Time & Life Building 48-floor. Photo: Yale Joel. LIFE Magazine.
Visitors enjoing the Latin-American cousine in La Fonda del Sol. Photo: Yale Joel. LIFE Magazine.
Aerial view of Rockefeller Center looking southwest showing the new 48-story Time & Life Building. August 1959.
Next, the Corning Glass Building.
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