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1271 Avenue of the Americas
Time-life building.jpg
1271 Avenue of the Americas
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General information
Status Complete
Type Office
Architectural style Modernist
Location 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York City
Construction started 1957
Completed 1958
Opening 1959
Owner Rockefeller Group
Management Rockefeller Group
Height
Top floor 587 ft (179 m)
Technical details
Floor count 48
Floor area 1,399,308 sq ft (130,000.0 m2)
Design and construction
Architect Wallace Harrison of Harrison, Abramovitz, and Harris
Main contractor George A. Fuller Co.
New York City Landmark
Designated: July 16, 2002 (Interior)
Reference #: 2119

1271 Avenue of the Americas is a 48-story office building located in Rockefeller Center in New York City. It opened in 1959 as the Time & Life Building, designed by architect Wallace Harrison, of Harrison, Abramovitz, and Harris.

History


1271 Avenue of the Americas was the first of four in Rockefeller Center designed by Harrison, Abramovitz, & Harris on the west side of Sixth Avenue. Harris served as the building's project manager and was responsible for overall planning. The Time & Life Building was the first expansion of Rockefeller Center west of the Avenue of the Americas. Air rights were purchased from the Roxy Theatre to the west. The Roxy was torn down in 1960 to erect an office tower connected to the Time & Life Building.

Construction on the Time-Life Building's steelwork started in April 1958, and the structure topped out in November of that year. The cornerstone of the building was laid in June 1959, after the building's structure had been completed, and the first tenants began moving into the tower in December 1959.

In July 2002, the building's ground floor interior was made an interior landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

In May 2014, Time Inc announced that the company was planning to leave the Time & Life Building for the Brookfield Place complex in lower Manhattan.

Design

The building is clad in green glass and features column-free floors of 28,000 square feet (2,600 m2). Large murals by Josef Albers and Fritz Glarner adorn its lobby, which integrates a serpentine patterned sidewalk design found on the sidewalks of Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beach with the adjacent sidewalk, a tribute to its location along Avenue of the Americas.

The Hemisphere Club

The Hemisphere Club, a members-only restaurant during the day, was on the 48th floor. Tn the evenings it opened to the public as the Tower Suite. The restaurant was operated by Restaurant Associates, which also operated The Four Seasons Restaurant, La Fonda del Sol, The Rainbow Room, The Forum of the Twelve Caesars, and later Windows on the World. The Hemisphere Club closed sometime after 1991.

La Fonda del Sol

La Fonda del Sol was a Latin American–themed restaurant opened in the Time & Life Building's lobby in 1960 by Joseph Baum. It featured bright, colorful, whimsical interiors designed by Alexander Girard and furniture by Charles Eames. It closed in 1971 and was replaced with a Fidelity Investments branch.

Time-Life Chairs

In addition to furniture for the La Fonda del Sol restaurant, Charles Eames designed iconic chairs for the offices of Time Incorporated which have become known as Time-Life Chairs. Eames designed them as a favor to Henry Luce, who had allowed Eames to use photos from the Time-Life archives for the pavilion he designed at the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow. The chairs remain in production and popular to this day, manufactured by Herman Miller of Zeeland, MI, though the original design with four legs at the base has been revised to include a fifth leg, referred to as a 5 star-base, for stability and to meet updated codes.

Tenants

Time Inc., the publisher of Time, Life, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, House & Home, and Architectural Forum magazines, initially occupied 21 floors. CNN's American Morning was based there from 2002 to 2006. Current tenants include Bessemer Trust, Blank Rome, H.I.G. Capital, Latham & Watkins, Major League Baseball, and Mizuho Securities USA.

In fiction

Timelifesidewalk
1271 Avenue of the Americas Sidewalk
  • Starting in Season 4 of the television series Mad Men, the fictional headquarters of the advertising agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (changed in Season 6 to Sterling Cooper & Partners) is located in Suite 3750 of the Time & Life Building (on the 37th floor). In a fifth-season episode, "At the Codfish Ball", the characters eat at the Tower Suite. The agency's offices also prominently feature Eames Time-Life Chairs. On March 23, 2015, AMC, the network on which Mad Men airs, unveiled a bench in front of the building which features a sculpture of the iconic black silhouette of lead character Don Draper in the show's opening credits.
  • The Time & Life Building features prominently in the 2013 film version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which depicts in part the publication of the last issue of Life magazine.

Tenants

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