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The Landmarks of New York

30th August 2007 Print
Chrysler Building This exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) provides a fascinating spotlight on the extraordinary architecture that makes New York such a vibrant city today. This heritage dates from its earliest days as a colonial 17th Century settlement, through phenomenal growth to its pre-eminence as the 'capital of the 20th and century', where architects such as Marcel Breuer, Raymond Hood, Philip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van de Rohe and Eero Saarinen realised some of their signature projects.

The exhibition spotlights some of the most significant and unusual buildings in New York through a dramatic installation of 81 black and white photographs, suspended on a grid-structure. The curator of the exhibition is Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, prize-winning writer, television interviewer/producer and Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Centre in New York. It was designed to an original concept by internationally renowned designer Massimo Vignelli, celebrated for his iconic designs of the American Airlines logo in 1966, the signage of New York's subway system in the early 1970s and noteworthy product, furniture and fashion design.

The exhibition presents a panorama of styles and building types, ranging from small colonial farmhouses to the mansions of the Gilded Age and from the iconic skyscrapers that New York is celebrated for, to lesser known jewels of its architectural heritage. Accompanying texts address the cultural, historical and architectural significance of each site, all of which are amongst the over 22,000 protected properties and structures in the city.

The exhibition was created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the passing of the New York City Landmarks law. This legislation preserves buildings, properties and objects and scenic landmarks that have a unique character or special historical aesthetic value as part of the development of the cultural fabric of the city, state or nation.

The grid-like installation system, reminiscent of the Manhattan's street plan, allows the viewer to walk through the images of New York's iconic buildings including the Statue of Liberty, engineered by Gustave Eiffel (1875-86); the Chrysler Building, by William Van Alen (1928-30); Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum (1956-9) and Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal A, completed by Kevin Roche (1956-62). Also depicted are some more unsung works of architecture and design, such as an historic street lamppost from 1913 and the Highbridge-Woodycrest Center in the Bronx by William B. Tuthill (1901-02), which once went by the evocative name of the American Female Guardian Society and Home for the Friendless.

The tour of this exhibition has been organised by the US Department of State and it is presented in London by the Cultural Attache of the US Embassy of the United Kingdom. With special thanks to Leanne Mellor.

6 September - 3 October 2007, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1

The exhibition is sponsored by The Times.

The exhibition opening reception is sponsored by American Airlines.

More Photos - Click to Enlarge

Chrysler Building