In 1924, this stunning black-and-gold building added new character to New York’s Bryant Park area.
American Radiator Company
For Raymond Hood, what started out as a small job designing radiator covers became so much more. When the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Company decided to build a new showroom and office building on 40th Street near Fifth Avenue, the company turned to the man who had been creating their radiator covers and asked him to come up with a design for their new headquarters. Just a few months prior, Hood had become instantly famous for his unique winning design for the Chicago Tribune building, and American Radiator was just one of many companies that pursued his talents.
An early Art Deco Masterpiece
Hood didn’t let them down. The result was a twenty-three-story, freestanding mid-block office tower that was like nothing else in the Bryant Park neighborhood… or in all of NYC, for that matter. Hood’s design for the new American Radiator Building, which called for a black brick exterior, was far different from the stodgy brownstones that were prevalent in the area. Hood explained that he chose the black brickwork to “lessen the visual contrast between the walls and the windows and give the tower an effect of solidity and massiveness”. The result was stunning.
The tower is Neo-Gothic, as is the magnificent bronze and marble entryway. Other aspects of the building are more akin to Art Deco, a style that would take the world by storm by the middle of the 1920s. Gilded terracotta ornaments crown the tower. The four-story base features bronze plating and black granite. Bronze carved allegories sit at the top of the base.
Inside, the lobby was decorated with mirrors and black marble. The basement once held a large showroom, where the latest in boilers and furnaces were displayed to the buying public.
Bryant Park Hotel
The American Radiator Building was officially declared a New York City Landmark in 1974. It was later sold to the American Standard Company and then a Japanese firm called Clio Biz. In the 1990s, British Architect David Chipperfield transformed the building into the Bryant Park Hotel, a charming boutique establishment.