The American Standard Building, formerly known as the American Radiator Building stands at 103 meters tall just south of Bryant Park. The 23-floor Art-Deco tower was designed Raymond Hood and John Howells from 1923-1924 for the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Company.
The design broke from the Beaux Arts/classicism styles of the time, utilizing bold cubic massing that allowed verticality in light of the zoning laws of 1916 dictating setbacks for buildings above a certain height. The tower rises up fifteen stories before it begins a series of setbacks, creating a striking silhouette.
The most striking feature of Hood's design is the unusual black and gold color scheme--which served both practical and symbolic purposes. Although Hood denied the later, the building is especially dramatic when floodlighted at night, like a giant glowing coal--in effect, becoming an advertisement for the American Radiator Company. The black brickwork facing, said to symbolize coal, was selected to lessen the visual contrast between the walls and windows, giving the tower an effect of solidity and massiveness. The Gothic-style pinnacles and the terra-cotta friezes on the edges of the setbacks are coated with gold, symbolizing fire and flame.
The base is clad in bronze plating and black granite. The large plate glass windows of the ground floor showrooms are enframed by slender, bronze, ribbed shafts reminiscent of the Gothic style, but terminating in cubistic pinnacles. The windows are surmounted by a slender continuous modillioned bronze enframement. The main entrance, between the windows, is set within an arched opening and accented by bronze details of modified Gothic design. The second floor is surmounted by a modillioned cornice set on large intricate corbel blocks, displaying a series of carved allegories by Rene Paul Chambellan, symbolizing the transformation of matter into energy. The third story has a distinctive window bay treatment, flanked by indented brick pilasters surmounted by gold pinnacles and shielded by intricately detailed railings.
In 1998, the building was sold in Philip Pilevsky for $15 million. Three years afterwards, the American Radiator Building was converted into The Bryant Park Hotel with 130 rooms and a theater in basement.
The American Standard Building was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1974.
National Register #70002663