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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image The Skyscraper City New Models for Skyscrapers
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New Models for Skyscrapers
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Another development of the 1970s was a return to the architecture of the past in what came to be known as postmodernism, which appears for the first time in a commercial building in the old AT&T Building, now the Sony Building, which was designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee in 1978. AT&T wanted a new headquarters. They purchased a very prominent site on Madison Avenue between Fifty-fifth and Fifty-sixth streets. And Philip Johnson designed a building that really raided the history of architecture for its ornamental details. It has a top that looks like that of an eighteenth-century Chippendale clock and, in fact, the building became known as the Chippendale Skyscraper. So it uses an eighteenth-century form at the top, but the base of the building is designed with this Renaissance arcade with ocular windows at the end which are wider on the outside of the circle than they are on the inside. This was a form borrowed from the Duomo in Florence, from Brunelleschi's great early-Renaissance dome on the main church in Florence. So Philip Johnson is looking to the architecture of the past to create a postmodern style that becomes very influential on skyscraper architecture all over the country in the late 1970s and in the 1980s. Many of these buildings were even designed by Johnson.


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