Purpose-built as the headquarters for the Ford Foundation, then the largest foundation in the nation, this bold design offered a new model for modern office buildings. Instead of the typically corporate high-rise, the building is a relatively low, block-wide brick cube with an atrium at its center. Inside, two glass-walled tiers of offices face one another across a landscaped atrium. Each office is visible to some degree from every other. The atrium is terraced to follow the topography of the site.
The innovative environment presents unique preservation challenges; Dan Kiley’s planting scheme has not been maintained in kind. Like furnishings, plants are not regulated by the LPC, despite their critical importance to the design.
Ada Louise Huxtable called the building a “civic gesture of beauty and excellence … a grant of some importance in a world where spirit and soul are deadened by the speculative cheapness of the environment.” A “landmark” from the moment it opened, it remains New York City’s youngest designated interior.
Photographs 1-2 by Larry Lederman © All rights reserved
Photographs 3–5, 1967 © Ezra Stoller/Esto