When I was a college intern at The New York Times in the late 1970s, I worked for the editors of the Op-Ed and editorial pages. One of the editorial board editors was architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable, who had already won a Pulitzer Prize. [Pictured: Jon Hamm as Mad Men's Don Draper]
Each day I'd bring Ms. Huxtable a stack of new architecture books that publishers had sent over for her to peruse or review. And each day she'd offer me the ones she didn't want or had already owned. Little by little, my love for architecture grew—through those books and Ms. Huxtable's writing. [Pictured: Seagram Building]
My passion, however, wasn't for the engineering and mechanics but for the analysis—what made great skyscrapers great and why cities looked the way they did at different points in time.
In today's "Greater New York" section of the Wall Street Journal, I've written an article on my favorite New York office lobbies of the 1950s and 1960s (go here). The article is tied in to Mad Men, which kicks off its fourth season on Sunday at 10 pm. on AMC. (Best of all, it's teased across the top of page 1 of the newspaper with a large horizontal photo!)
Most gratifying was speaking again with Ms. Huxtable [pictured] by phone while reporting this article. Also rewarding was interviewing architect Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture; Andrew Dolkart, director of Columbia University's Historic Preservation Program; and Tom Mellins, co-author of the magnificent New York 1960.
As New York architecture enthusiasts know, there aren't many original modernist lobbies left in Manhattan. While dozens of glass and steel buildings went up in Midtown in the 1950s and 1960s, many of their lobbies have been dramatically altered following years of serial renovations and 9/11 security tweaks.
Six modernist lobbies, however, have survived relatively intact—and can be viewed in all their minimalist glory simply by walking in off the street. Best of all, all six have that cool, sleek martini-washed Mad Men look and feel. [Pictured: Lever House]
Next time you're visiting New York, stop in at any or all of my picks—Lever House, the Seagram Building, 711 Third Ave., the Socony-Mobil Building, Springs Mills and the Time & Life Building.
Here are the opening paragraphs to my article today:
"When Mad Men returns on Sunday for its fourth season (AMC, 10 p.m.), viewers will again be transported back to New York of the early 1960s. The show's fictionalized ad agency, now known as Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, will have new office space—and a new building lobby. But where? [Pictured: Time & Life Building]
" 'I'm sworn to secrecy,' said Mad Men production designer Dan Bishop, who oversees the show's impeccable set authenticity.
"Mad Men may be about Madison Avenue, but the dry-ice drama is taped entirely in Los Angeles. Last season, the show's brief lobby scenes were shot at L.A.'s old Unocal Building [pictured]. This year's address hasn't been made public yet, but a shift back east may be in the offing: The sleek Time & Life Building, on Avenue of the Americas in Midtown, is a good bet.
"Here are six Mad Men-era lobbies around New York that you can visit and would make Don Draper and Peggy Olson feel right at home." [Pictured: Hans Hofmann tile mural enveloping elevator core at 711 Third Ave.]
For the rest of the article, I'm afraid you'll have to buy a copy of the Wall Street Journal in New York. The section in which the article appears, Greater New York, is sold only in the city. Or you can go online and read the article from anywhere in the world.