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The Pan Am Building and the Shattering of the Modernist Dream : The MIT Press - Meredith L. Clausen

The Pan Am Building and the Shattering of the Modernist Dream

The MIT Press

Paperback Published: 24th January 2006
ISBN: 9780262532839
Number Of Pages: 416
For Ages: 18+ years old

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Winner, Trade Illustrated Category, 2006 Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Book, Jacket, and Journal Show. and Received an Honorable Mention in the Architecture & Urban Planning category of the 2005 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Annual Awards Competition presented by the Association of American Publishers, Inc. The Pan Am Building and the reaction to it signaled the end of an era. Begun when the modernist aesthetic and the architectural star system ruled architectural theory and practice, the completed building became a symbol of modernism's fall from grace. In "The Pan Am Building and the Shattering of the Modernist Dream," Meredith Clausen tells the story as both history and cautionary tale--a case study of how not to plan and execute a large-scale urban project that seems especially relevant in light of the World Trade Center and the ongoing discussions over what should be built in its place. The Pan Am Building was despised by many as soon as the plans were announced in 1958. The star power of the celebrity architects--those deans of modernism, Walter Gropius and Pietro Belluschi--overrode critics' objections. When construction was completed in 1963, it became more than an architectural question; this "mute, massive, overscaled octagonal slab," as Clausen describes it, built over Grand Central Terminal, blocked the view down Park Avenue, created deep shadows where there had been sunlight, and poured 25,000 office workers on the sidewalks each morning and evening. As Clausen tells it, the story of the building--which was undistinguished architecturally but important because of its location and its moment in history--encompasses the end of modernism's social idealism, the decline of Gropius's and Belluschi's reputations, the victory of private interests over public good, the revival of architectural criticism in the press (both Ada Louise Huxtable and Jane Jacobs emerged as prominent and influential critics), the birth of the historic preservation movement, and the changing culture and politics of New York City.

Industry Reviews

Clausen has rifled through the archives and peered behind the glass curtain of mid-century modernism to spin a gripping tale of financial and aesthetic hubris run amok.

-Tom Vanderbilt, Bookforum
Clausen's fascinating study focuses on yet another modernist symbol, one that is still very much with us, despite its status as first among 'the buildings New Yorkers love to hate.'

Clausen's saga should be read by every New Yorker who cares about the city's future.

-Julia Vitullo-Martin, New York Post

Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. xv
Grand Central Cityp. 1
Grand Central Redevelopmentp. 2
The Railroad Industry in New York Cityp. 4
Grand Central Terminalp. 10
Robert Young and the New York Centralp. 22
Other Proposalsp. 27
Emery Roth & Sonsp. 35
Erwin S. Wolfson, Builder/Real Estate Developerp. 42
Zeckendorf In, Wolfson Outp. 44
The Pei Projectp. 46
"Grand Central City"p. 49
Gropius and Belluschip. 50
Ada Louise Huxtable, the Transformation of Park Avenue, and "Rothscrapers"p. 51
Walter Gropiusp. 64
The Architects Collaborativep. 69
Pietro Belluschip. 70
The Gropius/Belluschi/Roth Schemep. 77
The Grand Visionp. 84
The Pan Am Buildingp. 85
Wolfson Financingp. 86
The Challengep. 89
James Ruderman, Structural Engineerp. 90
Steel Framework: The Ruderman Planp. 92
Gropius/Belluschi/Roth Collaboration: The Design Processp. 94
Roth Officep. 112
Construction of the Buildingp. 114
Carl A. Morse, Diesel Construction Company, and Construction Managementp. 114
Construction Beginsp. 117
Complicationsp. 119
Bowling Alleys: Haskell versus the Railroadsp. 120
Pan American Signs Onp. 128
The Artp. 141
The Clamor of Criticismp. 155
The New School Debate, January 1960p. 160
Huxtable: "Marvel or Monster?"p. 163
More Criticismp. 166
The Defensep. 188
Heliport Proposalp. 196
Construction Continuedp. 199
Wolfson Diesp. 210
Building Nears Completionp. 210
Pan Am Opensp. 212
The Building's Impactp. 215
Economic Successp. 216
Continued Criticismp. 218
Jack Cotton Diesp. 248
Criticism Elsewherep. 248
Haskell and the Demise of Architectural Forump. 255
Fallout in the National Pressp. 259
Criticism Abroadp. 263
The Architectsp. 273
The Architects' Reputations: Emery Roth & Sonsp. 274
Belluschip. 276
Gropiusp. 279
Aftermathp. 309
Heliportp. 310
Historic Preservationp. 324
The Late 1960sp. 341
Sale of the Buildingp. 346
Lobby Remodelingp. 351
Demise of Pan American World Airways: Flight 103 and Pan Am's Final Descentp. 357
Pan Am Sign Changep. 363
Pan Am Building: Landmark Status?p. 368
Conclusionp. 369
Pan Am as Symbolp. 370
Later Criticismp. 370
Architectural Criticism, Critics, and Popular Perceptionp. 384
The Pan Am Building: The Vision of Three Menp. 385
The Significance of the Buildingp. 386
Notesp. 389
Works Citedp. 431
Illustration Creditsp. 461
Indexp. 467
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780262532839
ISBN-10: 0262532832
Series: The MIT Press
Audience: Professional
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 24th January 2006
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 20.3  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 1.07

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