Walk 13: Rockefeller Center

The main portion of this walk is devoted to a thorough study of Rockefeller Center, and the sophisticated circulation systems and public amenities in what was the first large-scale business complex in the United States. An innovative urban development at the time it was built, Rockefeller Center was a model for future projects in the decades following its construction. A mixed-use complex containing 13 buildings for commercial, retail and entertainment uses, the various structures were surrounded by open plazas and gardens embellished with public works of art. Built between 1932 and 1940, the original buildings had a similar architectural vocabulary that featured grey Indiana limestone, simple geometric forms, and bold facades with little decoration except for vertical lines used to emphasize the height of the buildings. The central focus of the project is the former RCA building, a tower rising 70 stories above the Channel Gardens which serve as a monumental passage to the building from Fifth Avenue. Even today, the complex is still considered one of the best examples of urban architecture in the world built in the 20th century. In the 1960s, the Center was extended west across Sixth Avenue. The more recent additions to Rockefeller Center are somewhat bland, tall buildings set in open plazas that are characteristic of late modern architecture. A walk through midtown follows the tour of Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center, West 48th to 51st Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues, The Associated Architects: Reinhard & Hofmeister; Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray; Raymond Hood, Godley & Fouilhoux; Edward Durrell Stone [1932-40, expanded 1947-73]
Radio City Music Hall, Edward Durrell Stone (architect) and Donald Deskey (interior) [1932]
RCA Building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Raymond Hood [1933]
St. Patrick's Cathedral, 5th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, James Renwick, Jr. and William Rodrigue [1851-79, towers 1888]
Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, Philip Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone [1939]; additions and alterations: Philip Johnson Associates (architect) and James Fanning (landscape architect) [1954, 1964]; further additions and alterations: Cesar Pelli & Associates (design architects) and Edward Durell Stone Associates (associate architects) [1985]
MoMA Tower, 21 West 53rd Street, Cesar Pelli & Associates [1985]
Sony Building, 550 Madison Avenue, Philip Johnson and John Burgee [1984] (originally AT&T Building)
IBM Building, 590 Madison Avenue, Edward Larrabee Barnes Associates [1983]
Trump Tower, 725 5th Avenue, Der Scutt (design architect) and Swanke Hayden Connell (architects) [1983]
520 Madison Avenue, Swanke Hayden Connell [1981]


Related links:
-Radio City Music Hall site: History of Radio City Music Hall

-Radio City Music Hall site: the restoration of Radio City Music Hall
-Museum of Modern Art


The Walks: [Lower Manhattan] [Seaport] [Wall Street] [City Hall] [Soho] [East Village] [West Village] [Ladies Mile] [Upper West Side] [Morningside] [Grand Central] [Park Ave.] [Rockefeller Center] [Home]