1251 Rockefeller Center
For 20 years 1251 Avenue of the Americas in New York City was known as the Exxon Building, the center tower in Rockefeller Center West. When Mitsui Fudosan, world’s largest real estate company, bought the building in 1990, they embarked on an ambitious capital improvement program budgeted at $50 million, a sum equivalent to the cost of constructing a new 20 story Manhattan tower.
Included in the program were renovation of the grand lobbies with lower ceilings and various features intended to “humanize the scale and reflect the new era”, according to Mitsui’s New York vice president Gregory Sutherland. “It was critical that our facilities work for the tenant of the 21st Century.” An essential feature of the new lobby design was a series of seven foot high and 400 foot long leaded glass screens capping the ground floor glazing and focusing on the four entries. The Art Advisory service of the Museum of Modern Art assisted in a year-long international review of artists, culminating in Carpenter’s selection.
Cioppa Rosen Architects, designers of the lobby renovation, included a number of dramatic new features, including a 100 foot long V-shaped concierge desk of black granite and a series bronze sconces with geometric shapes. This design vocabulary combined with the original entry canopies, supplied departure points for the leaded glass. “I was looking for heroic gestures strong enough to survive among all the other bold surrounding forms — acknowledging the tradition of Rockefeller Center design while creating something fresh — looking backward and forward at the same time.”
Note: The entire ensemble of Ed Carpenter’s windows at 1251 Rockefeller Center were removed in Spring of 2020 after yet another change of ownership and remodel of the ground floor lobbies.
Ed Carpenter Studio
1812 NW 24th Avenue
Portland, Oregon USA 97210
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