Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Chrysler Building: the Most Beautiful Skyscraper

I love the Chrysler Building, one of the great masterpieces of the Art Deco style. It was designed by William Van Alen, and construction began in May, 1929. It was the tallest building in the world for about a year. It has been outclassed in height but not, I think, in beauty.

The Chrysler Building began as a collaboration between architect William Van Alen and builder William H. Reynolds. Van Alen's first design was radical and ambitious, with a decorative 'diamond' crown, three-story showroom windows, and a 12 story section of glass corners, lightening the look of the building. Reynolds thought all this expensive and impractical, so he backed out. The plan appealed, though, to car maker Walter P. Chrysler. Chrysler worked with Van Alen to refine the design and to make it taller -- Chrysler wanted his headquarters to be the tallest building in the world. As built the structure is 1,046 feet (319 m) tall.

The lovely detailing on the crown is one of Van Alen's best touches, intended to evoke the metallic gleam of Chrysler's cars.

The famous gargoyles were copied from Chrysler hood ornaments.

The entrance.

The lobby is a wonderful symphony of red marble and art deco styling. Architects usually got help from other designers for these ornate spaces, but I can't find out who helped Van Alen with this.

One of the murals by Edward Trumbull, which show the building under construction.

The wonderful elevator doors. Every time I look at a casual act of beauty like this one this I want to ask, why aren't all elevator doors like this? Who decided that plain gray elevator doors were good enough?

 Interior details. Even the lights in the elevators are small masterpieces.

Post box. I was asking my elder daughter why we don't build things like this any more, and she said, "Because we live in a brutalist dystopian future." How sad that we do. But at least we still have these wonderful buildings from when people cared enough to make beautiful things.

1 comment:

pootrsox said...

Thank you :)

I have loved the Chrysler building since I first saw an image of it when I was a child.

I've never been up to the door, much less inside, so I thank you also for the additional pictures.

This building inspired my life-long love of art deco ornamentation.

Sadly, somehow I've ended up with Chinese Chippendale instead-- don't know how that happened, other than that A. my best friend and antique dealer *hates* art deco and B. I can't afford the good art deco anyway.