New York Architecture Images- Midtown

Ford Foundation Building


Roche Dinkeloo


321 East 42nd Street 




International Style II  




Office Building



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New York's best building of the 1960s, the Ford Foundation Building was built for the country's largest philanthropic organization. The form of the building represents a departure from the abstract purity of the International Style. Supported by an exposed steel structure, the building takes the form of a glass box enclosing an interior atrium which rises the full height of the building to a skylight. Offices are located around this central court with a view into the atrium garden which also serves as a public space. The humane environment created by this layout reflects the lofty values of the foundation which supports the arts and humanitarian causes. The layout of buildings around atrium spaces or winter gardens would later become popularized in the shopping mall and numerous skyscrapers of the 1980s. Made of Core-ten steel, the structure's surface resembles wood due to a patina which results from oxidation and gives the steel a rich tone. In the Ford Foundation Building, new materials are incorporated with a unique formal expression making this building a good example of late modern architecture.

In the density of Manhattan's midtown the Ford Foundation building pioneered the spacious, green, full-height atrium. 

The lush planting occupies a third of an acre within the building, complete with lily pond, on a sloping terrace that accommodates the one-story difference in height between the entrances on 42nd and 43rd Streets. A glazed roof 130 feet above the planting creates a semi-tropical garden, which can be seen both from the twelve floors of offices and - via a glass wall extending most of the way up the building - from the street outside (on the 42nd Street side).

The building was recognized by the Architectural Record in 1968 as 'a new kind of urban space'.

This is not 'organic architecture'. The steel girders and granite facing, the highly polished brick floors, and the Modernist form of the building are harshly inorganic. But the contrast serves to make the softening and humanizing effect of the greenery that much stronger.


  How to visit

The building has entrances on both 42nd and 43rd Streets, just west of First Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Architecturally it's five minutes walk away from the United Nations building, the Chrysler building and the beautifully restored Grand Central Station.

The Ford Foundation's garden atrium is open to the public during normal office hours. For information telephone +1 212 573 5000.