Design Reserach Project
Page 8
Public Contribution in High-Rise Building Design
@ New York City
Rockefeller Center : The City within the City
History of Rockefeller Center
June 4, 1930 the press announced the news of agreement. From opera house become the monument of mass entertainment. So now they were thinking about the concept as a house of all the entertainment program on the radio at that time. This place suppose to be "Radio City" and that name was captured by the public. In the deep depression, here in Midtown of New York City, it will be come the home of the radio, a common man's friend. It will be come a head quarter of Modern Technology
As the Radio City (RCA building, RCA building West, RKO building, the Radio City Music Hall, and a sister theatre) at that time Rockefeller is almost the one who have to spend his own money to move the project. He has to buy more land fronting sixth Ave. he have to pay the interest for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. And this time is about to lost the support from the public.
The first model presented to the public on March 5, 1931. Not so many people, public and press know what will happen about the great entertainment center or Radio City or "City within the City" that will take shape in midtown area. But people knew who is Mr. John D. Rockefeller. He is the philanthropy and he will build something without caring about cost because for the people. This project as a dream city will be the gift for New York City. In the other hand Mr. Rockefeller have a vision about if this project were not profitable it will not be a good example for people to follow in the future of the city. But it will be a bad example to avoid. Therefore when the project announced, it was attacked by the press and the public with fury.
Picture: Above - First Scheme that was condemn by the public. Right - The cartoon that describe about Rockefeller Oil Can for their major business fortune.
There are some cartoon that critic this thing. The press critic that the square is so small, it can give the people claustrophobia. All the angry mail came from all over the country, critic Rockefeller as "Another New Rich Man". Now they not suffering from only financial, but laughter and scorn from the public. Everybody expect the Center to fail miserably.
In 1933, RKO went Bankrupt and RCA it self began to totter financially. Now with the scheme that change to fit the RCA, they betrayed him again just like the Opera. But still has a plan B, at the same time as they made an agreement with RCA They decide to find the tenants in Europe. And it was success. British Group agreed to lease one of two low buildings. French group also join. And finally there are dozen of foreign countries in the center, including USSR. Therefore now it become the complex of, not only Radio City but the theme of internationalism and international cooperation.
As many foreign came in, it is the time to make the design more aesthetically pleasing and there seem to be a little more appreciation of what architecture mean after all. The oil can building was change to be 2 lower building fronting 5th Ave. And the tiny Square growing into sunken Plaza. This is the beginning point of the Greatest urban open space in the world.
Raymond Hood, one who has a problem with the head team lead by Todd. Especially when Hood proceed the plan for lower plaza from the flat plane to become a large fountain.
Todd: "Do you know how much it would cost per day to re-circulate the 30,000 gallons of water"
Hood: "No,you want to tell me?"
Todd: "Um...8 dollars and 30 cents."
Picture: The Early Scheme of the Fountain (Above), later become the classic Prometheus (left)
Therefore the fountain was installed. By late 1931 overall design was completed. Autumn of 1931 construction began on the RKO and Radio City Music Hall. Jan 1932, the flagship of the project, 70 story RCA building. February 23, 1932 Rockefeller was born. In April, Metropolitan Square Corporation and Rockefeller's personal managerial instrument, become Rockefeller Center, Inc.