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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image The Public Realm Smaller Scale Buildings
Rockefeller Institute
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Smaller Scale Buildings
Rockefeller Institute
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Construction slowed during the 1930s, and during World War II it stopped. During this period many of the great European modernists, the masters at the Bauhaus, escaped Europe and came to America and changed the whole idea of what architecture was. By now rather stale Beaux-Arts curricula at American architectural universities is thrown out and in its place a whole new interest in European modernism develops, which we saw when we were discussing modern office buildings like Lever House and the Seagram Building.

And the same thing becomes evident in institutional architecture. In fact, in the institutional realm, some of the most spectacular postwar buildings appear, some of the most dramatic and expressive buildings are erected during this period.

The classic European modernism of the Bauhaus, which was exemplified in the corporate buildings of Lever House and others, is most evident at the expansions of the Rockefeller Institute on the East River, which were begun in 1957. And the Rockefellers hired one of their favorite architects, Wallace K. Harrison, to expand. And Harrison was one of the leading proponents of modernism in New York, and he designed a complex that included four buildings.

You can see two low, flat-roofed buildings, a domed building, and a higher laboratory building.

This landscape of formally planned trees and abstractly designed fountains and planting beds was to be one with the design. And at Rockefeller Institute is one of the few places where the landscape has been maintained, and in which today you can still see the juxtaposition of modern architecture and modern landscape.

The interiors of the buildings also take the properties of natural materials, wood and stone, and plasterwork, and juxtapose them with artwork to create light-filled interiors in which students and faculty at the institute would feel relaxed and would want to spend their time teaching and researching.

Dan Kiley's landscape, here you can see, is a very important part of the building. You have the domed auditorium, office, and classroom buildings, and water, and a very crisply designed landscape.


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