The Seagram Building in New York City—with its impeccable proportions, elegant bronze-and-glass curtain wall, and graceful plaza—is without question one of the great structures of the twentieth century. A key player in making it happen in 1954 was Phyllis Lambert. She was a 27-year-old artist living in Paris, when her father, Samuel Bronfman, founder of the Seagram distillery, asked her to take over the search for an architect to design the company’s headquarters in New York City. She traveled the country, visiting architects, and ultimately picked Mies van der Rohe. The rest, as they say, is history.
Lambert has now written a fascinating account of the 38-story tower, Building Seagram (Yale University Press, 2013). Metropolis editorial director Paul Makovsky recently spoke to Lambert at the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, where they discussed the book, how she picked Mies for the project, and the legacy of the Canadian Centre for Architecture—the museum she founded in her home city of Montreal.
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