Letter to the Editor> Frothing Over Roth

Letter to the Editor> Frothing Over Roth

(Roman Kruglov / Flickr)

[Editor’s Note: The following are reader-submitted response to a back-page comment written by Pamela Jerome (“The Mid-Century Modernist Single-Glazed Curtain Wall Is an Endangered SpeciesAN 05_04.09.2014). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email]

I applaud Pamela Jerome’s comment piece, “The Midcentury Modernist Single-Glazed Curtain Wall is an Endangered Species.” As for Emery Roth’s output of iconic single glazed curtain wall buildings, they brightened the cityscape, especially on Park Avenue. Their output reflects a design that designates a specific period in our Architectural History, no different from the Palladian Buildings that are adjacent to the Brenta Canal.

Currently, the call is for 96-story, super skinny hi-rise condos on very small footprints in Manhattan. Change accounts for progress! Architecture by its nature is an evolving art, just like artists who go through different styles in their lifetime. Another reason Emery Roth & Sons’ buildings worked so well is because they produced one of the best sets of construction documents in this city at the time.

Ruth Hirsch
Ruth Hirsch Associates

Emery Roth & Sons produced numerous office buildings in the “wedding cake” style. Of these, 300 and 350 Park Avenue were described in “The Mid-Century Modernist Single-Glazed Curtain Wall is an Endangered Species.” Exemplified in both restorations, Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects preserved the modern integrity of these buildings while renewing the building’s prominence on a changing Park Avenue. Related to the revitalization of a building, our firm reinforces the building’s strengths and aims to mend its deficiencies, including energy performance, image, and marketplace.

350 Park Avenue is arguably the best of this building type. In 2010, we participated in the restoration of the building. This included the replacement of all of the single glazed windows with a high-performance insulated glass unit. The color and quality of this glass were carefully selected to enhance the existing grey glass spandrel. The window profile and sightlines were also carefully studied to maximize the daylight openings. Not only was the thermal and acoustic performance upgraded, but by removing the unsightly and leaking “hopper” window, the building’s appearance was improved. Additionally, the weathered mullions were over-clad with new aluminum covers that matched the finish and unique profile of the existing. As a result, 350 Park Avenue emerged as the newest 1950s building on Park Avenue.

At 300 Park Avenue, a new aluminum rain screen system was installed in conjunction with high-performance insulated glass windows. The result was a respectful “remake” of the pink soap colored Colgate Palmolive Building. The building was featured in the movie Catch Me if You Can, and appears as much a period piece as Leonardo DiCaprio’s vintage Aston Martin.

Though they are not the equivalents of the Lever House and Seagram Building, these buildings are part of the architectural heritage of New York. We are proud to have contributed to their longevity.

Daniel P. Shannon
Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects