Riverside Church
Allen & Collens [1926-30]

This Baptist Church was funded in large part by John D. Rockefeller Jr., whose wealthy family often used building endowments to cement their position in New York society and American politics. Built in the French Gothic style, the elaborate form of the church and its fine materials (such as stained glass) are at odds with the simple, pared-down style that normally characterizes Baptist ecclesiastical architecture. With an interior based on the Chartres Cathedral, the design shows off the Rockefellers' ability to straddle European and American building traditions. Modeled on Laon Cathedral, the church's bell tower is actually a 21-story steel-frame high-rise. Its enormous size all but overwhelms the nave beyond.