Buildings Overlooking Bryant Park
Outstanding New York architecture frames the park
Part of Bryant Park's urbane charm is that it is surrounded by prime examples of several periods of New York City architecture. At the northern corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street is 500 Fifth Avenue. Shreve, Lamb & Harmon (architects of the Empire State Building) designed this 60-story Art Deco tower in 1930.
York & Sawyer designed the former Salmon Tower at 11 West 42nd Street in 1926-27. The famed Guastavino Company produced the tile vaults of the Salmon lobby, and bas-reliefs representing the months of the year adorn the building's entrance.
Warren & Wetmore (architects of Grand Central Terminal) designed the building at 33 West 42nd Street (1912). Until 1926, the third floor housed Aeolian Hall, site of the premiere of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.
Stern's department store occupied the site to the west from 1913 to 1970. In 1972, George Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the travertine and glass W.R. Grace Building, with its dramatic sloping form.
At the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street is the Home Box Office Building designed in 1985 by Kohn Pedersen Fox. Its neighbor at the northwest corner, the ecologically friendly Bank of America Tower, was designed by Cook + Fox Architects, and completed in 2009. It was the first skyscraper in the world to receive LEED Platinum certification.The tall, modern building at 1095 Sixth Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets was designed by Kahn & Jacobs and built in 1974.
The distinctive building at the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 40th Street is known as the Bryant Park Studio Building. Charles Alonzo Rich designed the Beaux-Arts style building in 1900-01 to house artists' studios, including those of photographer Edward Steichen and the painter Fernand Leger.
Continuing east on 40th Street, York & Sawyer designed 54 West 40th Street as the Republican Club.
Raymond Hood and J. Andre Fouilhoux designed the block's most prominent edifice, the American Radiator Building, in 1923-24. Now the Bryant Park Hotel, this romantic tower of dark brick is topped with gold, so that when illuminated at night the building resembles a glowing radiator coil. (Hood later directed the team of architects that designed Rockefeller Center.)
Andrew Carnegie commissioned the architects Whitfield & King to design 32 W 40th Street as the Engineers' Club in 1906. John Hemenway Duncan (architect of Grant's Tomb) designed the lovely Knox Hat Building at the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 40th Street. Erected in 1901-02, it housed the head office of one of the country's great men's hat brands. Attia & Perkins in 1981-83 designed the office tower (now home to HSBC) preserving the Knox Hat Building shell.
The most recognizable building overlooking the park is the New York Public Library (1898-1911). The design is by Thomas Hastings and John Merven Arrere in collaboration with the first director of the Library, John Shaw Billings. The stone "stripes" on the library's rear facade indicate the original book stacks, and behind the top floor arcade is the Main Reading Room.