Mies Van Der Rohe: A Critical Biography

Christopher Turner writes:

In 1954, the sculptor Phyllis Lambert was living in Paris when her father, Samuel Bronfman, sent her pictures of the 34-storey skyscraper he planned to build on Park Avenue in New York. Bronfman, the Canadian ‘whisky king’ who owned Seagram distillers, had commissioned Pereira & Luckman to create a gleaming metal and glass edifice that resembled a decanter gift set. ‘This letter starts with one word repeated very emphatically no no no no no,’ Lambert responded when she saw the plans. Over eight pages she dismissed the scheme as an alienating, self-consciously futuristic ‘Flash Gordon job’. She begged her father to build something instead that ‘expresses the best of the society in which you live, and at the same time your hopes for the betterment of this society’.

(LRB 6 February 2014)

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