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Phyllis Lambert

(New York)

Office building at 375 Park Avenue in midtown New York City by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson (see fig.), which marked a pivotal moment in the history of architecture. It was commissioned in the euphoria of post-war America in November 1954 by Samuel Bronfman, owner of the Canadian distillery Seagram. Bronfman’s daughter, Phyllis Lambert, then 27, was director of planning and, as such, effectively the client, selecting the architect as well as establishing the ethics for a building meant to represent the best of modern society. With such a broad mandate, the Seagram Building would bear responsibility not only to the people who would occupy it but to an expanded, even global audience.

The Seagram Building created a rare triumvirate in New York City’s broadest and most majestic street, Park Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd Streets; it was sited directly opposite McKim, Mead & White...