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Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 T.:PROFILES ARCHITECT 1--YOU'RE LUCKY IF YOU CAN COME CLOSE IN July, 1926, the League of Na- tions, having decided to build itself a palace in Geneva, invited all the architects in the countries constituting its far-flung membership to submit de- signs for such a structure, in a competi- tion to be judged by an international committee of experts in the field. By January, 1927, when the competition closed, three hundred and seventy-seven architects had submitted some ten thou- sand designs. l'he judges then held a series of meetings in an attempt to come to a unanimous agreement on the best plan. During their first sixty-four ses- sions, they were unable to reach a de- cision, although a plan submitted by Charles Le Corbusier, the French func- tionalist, regularly received more votes than any other. At the sixty-fifth ses- sion, Le Corbusier's plan was disquali- fied, on the technicality, perhaps polit- ically inspired, that it had been drawn in printer's ink, and not in China ink, as the terms of the competition had stipu- lated. Then the judges went on to pro- claim nine architects (including, para- doxically, Le Corbusier) co-winners of the contest, confused things a little more by announcing that none of their plans would be used, and wound up by hand- ing what had become a very hot pota- to indeed to a committee of five sup- posedly experienced diplomats, who hardly lived up to their advance billing by first selecting a team of experts to advise them, then rejecting their ad- vice, and, in the end, hand-picking four architects, not including Le Corbusier, to collaborate on an entirely new design for the palace. The building, an anti- septically conservative one that nobody was happy about, was filially opened in September, 1934?seven years after the wrangle began. Since the League's dis- piriting failure to get its own house in order, to say nothing of the world's, is still vivid in the minds of statesmen on both sides of the Atlantic, a good many of them feel that the most spectacular feature of the permanent headquarters of the United Nations, on the East Riv- er, is that the members of its inter- national board of design?seventeen architects, from fifteen countries, among diem two Russians, a Brazilian Com- munist, and the controversial Le Cor- busier?unanimously arrived at a plan in four months and in a rare state of harmony. The major credit for this achievement is generally accorded to the leadership of the American architect Wallace Kirkman Harrison :is chair- man of the hoard of design and direc- tor of planning for the United Nations headquarters. Under Harrison's direc- tion, the three buildings that constitute the headquarters were up and ready for occupancy just four years and one month after ground was broken for the first of them. Their total cost ex- ceeded by only two and a half million dollars the original appropriation of six- ty-five million?a considerable feat in view of the fact that the price of budd- ing materials rose about twenty per cent during the period of construction. A hearty, intense, strung-featured New Englander of fifty-nine, who stands a bulky six feet two, shambles like a small-town mailman, and, whether he is talking English, French, or Spanish, still speaks in the undefiled accents of Ins native Massachusetts, Harrison, up until he achieved his recent celebrity as the U.N.'s architect-in-chief, was large- ly unknown outiide architectural cir- cles, although over the past quarter of a century he has been a partner in firms that have built some seven hundred million dollars' worth of assorted struc- tures. Among these are all but one of the fifteen components of Rockefeller Center; the Try Ion and Perisphere at the New York World's Fair, in Hush- ing Meadow; the limiter College build- ing on Park Avenue; the African Habi- tat, at the New York Zoological Park; additions to the Bush Building, in Lon- don; submarine and air bases for the United States Navy, at Coco Solo, in the Canal Zone; the remodelled Lenthj?ric store, (um Fifth Avenue; a batch of ga- rages for New York City's Department of Sanitation; the Hotel Avila, in Cara- cas; the Eastchester housing develop- ment, in the Bronx; Oberlin College's auditorium; the Republic National Bank Building, in Dallas; the United Status embassies in Havana and Rio de Janeiro; and two office buildings that went up not long ago in Pittshurgh?onc, thirty- nine stories high, for the NIellon Bank and the United States Steel ('orpora- tion, and the other, thirty stories high, for the Aluminum Company of Amer- ica. Much in the pattern of those recur- rent NIarquand characters who, though 11 'al C' I larii.,-()11 less constantly fretful about 11t lirivinrr eilmiji HI- it, II al'IM,(111 5 k-archil When- ever he is singled out for admiration as the fellow who built the If.N. to call attention to at least a dozen of the sp..- ei:th!..ts who were associated Nvith him on the project, hut ;It the same time he insists on accepting lull responsihiliti whenever the huildin!rs are (-rider/ed. And there has been plenty of criticism, for no other cont.. in p ri r a Fe hock-my:11 enterprise has provoked such exti eine differences of opinion as the I ned Nations headquarters.,2-,rmip the Sec- retariat Building-, the Conterence and the General Assembly Build- ing-. Those in Li'. ii have called the most prominent building in the group the slab-shaped Secretariat-- --"a masterly example of the power of architecture to express monumentalit? " and "a triumph of unadorned prt,portion," and one of them has referred to the group as a whole as nothing- less than "a segment if man's dreains made visible.'' Those opposed have been equally eloquent. They have denounced the Se(a-etarit is, tinono other things, "a sandwich on end,- sinister emblem tit world power," :mil "a bop-sized TV screen that no tine can dig," and die entire setup as "a co- lossal botch," "a spiritual cipher," and "a collection of clicht's 'from the dead past and the dead present." Ifarrison has managed to parry most of these thrusts gracefully, but in the case of a prolonged attack by Lewis Alumford, a criti,? for whom he has great respect, he has periodically shown signs of feel- ing the oing. Even so, he has man- aged to keep his equanimity. Shortly after Mumford publicly declared that saturated with integrity, are neverthe- if the United Nations succeeded in be- Approved For Release 2002/08/21: CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 41.0.301_ D... Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 ".1 f re'd ! II" kw ha pp(71,',1 10 ? coining an (.11.(..ctive org-anization for orld ,gov(rnment, it would 14.ti `,1)1ft ot, and not because of, the architecture of its permanent headquarters, the edi- toi of the Su rid:1y Timis book-review it:, lion sent I larrison a pre-publication 4. op\ of it book edited h Alinntord, "Root, of C(intemporary American , hitecture," along with a letter ask- ing him if he would carE. It revieNv it. lai 11..on's secretarN. of mail% cars' st.tltiiIlti, \1 rs. iiurnadette de, put t hesu (in his desk, mid in+, it note of her oNvii :It the foot of the letter: "Ev- er\ thing comes to him who waits." I larrison's first ittiptilse was to send the book hack for somebody else to re- View, because he was afraid that he (..ould not he objective about it, but he ? clian:Eed iii,. rnind when he r( ad it that night, ;111E1 the next morning, pacing his it 11i like an :Ing,r\ moose, he dictated a long, slashitn! diatribe. NIrs. ()"loole read it back to him. "( ).1c., 1 larrisoll said crisp1N. "That's pertuct. NoNv 1( it up." lii then sat down and dictated it lather generous review. Nprotession studded with gaudily inde,taan nanin? annans, I a ria.,,n%, hasic aim and stabilitl linn (miaow, indn, id nality also In.lp to explain his success. "In this NA ,Erld, N.oti Call filld all thtt brilliant 111111(1ti MI ?Vallt, but the ?VallyI IarritiollS 11c()- P1c who are also cnntpletely reliable -- Ii a rare conlmndity," Beardsley. R mill, a hi( ild of I larrison's iv lm is a connoisseur oF cornmerce ratti- er than of architecture, said recentll "Nkrally can along Nvith peolde, a wide vat-id\ of people. For another thing, he understands trione\. and Itis a sense t tf responsihilit? about it. ()11 top (if this, he's a learheaded administrator, so capahle that he yeas able to run the ( )ffice ttl Inter-.1nterican .11-fairs toward the end (if the lit I.YI)ti Call WHI-k With ?Vally 1 Lirritioll.'' Ill the Nuls()11 RuCketellel', 1:11-11sOil's ()111V his independence. Har- rison )ind Rockefeller, who ha \c heen close friends tor ()vei- 1 wenty years, first met in the enihr? time da Ns 1 RoE krfeller I. enter, Avail which they were oncerned as a I oung architect and a Notidg still, respectivelN. "The first time I 1)1.., ante ,(1 \':111v," 16H, keleller has recalled, "was the day 1 Wr111 .11011g 111111 1'.11111(1- W111.11 lii 1111.-1 Vt ilh Olt: 5/V(.11 1%110 were designing the Cell- to talk over how the ex- terior (Et the R.C.A. ItitIihiiii should he handled. Well, ra- ther was accustomed to build- Ings that had fluted columns or ( ;whit- arches marching up their sides, and he. was out- lining: his ideas on that sub- jE.ct. The architects thi listened till iii Father had finished, and 1)1(.11 1VallN. exploded. '(;(id- dam it, .N1r. Rockefeller, Nam can't (I() that!' he said. 'You'll ruin the building if You cover up its lines with that (.1:1551- Hin,Eerbread.' lind \VAIN WA': fill' V01111gUSf (11 .:11.1,111ft'CiS ;111(1 it W0111(1 1111V(? 11('(?11 VAS\ 10I" 111111 fl/ 1111Ve 11111VC(1 if SAC." 11.11'1,011\ 1-(1111f:If11111 ;IS 1 Mall Of 111C011.01411/1(' 111.111Ciplu f0VITI'S S1) higfi that it tends to obscure his consider- able reative powers. .As an architect, he belongs to no school or move- nient. "l'erluips you might call hint it perpetual progressive," says Alax Abrantovitz, his partner in the firrn of Hari ison & Ahrainot it/. "The ques- tion lArally is always asking himself :111(1 cVei 1)(14 cisc is (where do we goI 111111 ilith I ic's Avva s search- ing tor .1 better design to express the fun( non of .t building. Ile's always on the I(Eokinit for new materials that Avill make new designs practicable." 13y w;11 of corroborating this statement, Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 1 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 Abramovitz cites thc fact that the Secre- tariat was the first building in the world to have windows made of heat-resistant glass; it started the present vogue for exteriors that give the effect of being a single huge window. Harrison is in- clined to minimize the independent streak that others see in him. "There's no building that isn't designed hy tie client," he says. "The amount of beau- ty an architect can achieve is always limited by the amount of imagination and feeling for beauty the client has in Ms system. Most clients haven't got much, or else what they have is buried deep beneath their conservative com- mercial instincts. Here's the way it fig- ures most of the time: In the designing stage, when you're trying to interest the client in a new idea, he thinks you're a crackpot. Say it's a new kind of door. The client won't touch it unless you can take him over to some building that's already up and show him a door exact- ly like it. Then, when the client finally gets into his own building and you've given him the door he asked for and nothing new he can boast about, you're just a no-good, lousy carpenter." In the case of the Aluminum Company of America, however, I larrison & A brain- ovitz had a client who was far from reluctant about going along with them on at least one phase of experimental de- sign?an exploration of the various pos- sible uses of aluminum ill construction? and in consequence, the Alcoa Building, in Pittsburgh, is undoubtedly one of the most revolutionary office build- ings of the past two decades; not on- ly its ceilings, stairs, window frames, air-conditioning equipment, lighting fix- tures, piping, and hardware are made of aluminum, but even its exterior walls. According to the Alcoa people, it weighs less than any other building of its size in the world and may well be the most weatherproof. Along with his standing as an expert on tall, trim, down-to-their-fighting- weight office buildings, Harrison is also prOminent in a field that at first might seem to be an altogether antithetical aspect of architecture. Over the past quarter of a century, the firms he has been associated with have led the way in paying more than the custom:in lip service to the view that architecture should embrace painting and sculpture as kindred arts. Calder, A rchipenko, Gabo, ligel, Noguchi, Lachaise, Man- ship, Ozenfant, Rivera, and Caller are a few of the well-known painters and sculptors Ilarrison has commis- sioned to ornament his buildings. His enthusiasm for modern art would ap- pear to he simply a triumph of exposure Lu) it for thirty-five 1, ars ago, when, as a voting Yankee, i? ? found himself in the wilderness is, he couldn't see the stuff at all. s having over- come his prejudice to die point where he paints a preth made abstract himself from time to time, and finds a Calder mobile called "Snowfall" a restful note in his bedroom, he is init to convert others, and often sends mo- biles and extremely modern paintings to Midwestern businessmen he has had dealings with, asking them to live with the pieces for a while and see if they don't find them as comfortable as an old pair of flannels. A few years ago, in a rather similar missionary mood, Ilar- rison tucked a fine Picasso under his arm and paid a call on Trygve Lie, then Sec- retary-General of the United Nations, to discuss the interior decoration of the organization's new headquarters. After a brief preamble in which he explained how, to his mind, Picasso's work em- bodied the aesthetic qualities the new buildings should express, Harrison un- covered fhe painting with a flourish and stepped back to admire it. "lost imagine," he said reverently. "Picasso painted that in One day and thought nothing of it!" "Neither do 1," Lie responded shortly. There are no Picas- 5(15 at the U.N. Harrison surrounds himself with con- temporary art at home. Ile and his wife, the former Ellen Hum Milton, have a six-room, fifth-floor apartment on Vifth Avenue, in the Sixties, which is so tilled with modern paintings they have bought, with copies of 1.A'gers painted by Mrs. Harrison, and with Picassc. that the Harrisons' friends have lent them that it might almost be taken for an uptown branch of the Museum of Nlodern Art. Much as I larrisim ad- mires this setting, however, he finds that he can both enjoy himself and work hetter at a lcar-niund country liouse he (mins at Huntington, Long Island, where most of the time he dresses in a T-short and a soiled pair of to held up by a rope belt. This house is forevCI- l-eMiI'ldI1l:' visitors that it is the licie-- m.tker's son who wears sneakers, for it is a seemingly aimle.s hodgepodge of three buildilv:s, and, looking at it, one finds it hard to believe that its owner Ills desirned a dozen (0- more licautiiid pH% :au houses tor other peOple. The first id the three constituent buildings oi the Huntington house to go up rectangular one made of alumin thu sheetiip4. Designed hi Roe 1iui ?r\ , II was the principal attraction at an arclute( tural exhibition that was held in Grand Central Palace in 1934; when the exhibition was over, no one could think what to do with the house, so Harrison bought it, for fifteen hundred dollars, and had it lugged to a sixteen- acre piece of property he owned in Huntington, where it was reassembled. Dadaistic, if anything, in design, "the tin house," as the Harrisons have always called it, offers suCh conveniences as an exposed drainpipe that runs down from an upstairs bathroom into the center of the living room, where it becomes one of the legs of a built-in dining table and then disappears into the floor. This house proved to be icy in winter and torrid in summer, and after struggling along with it for a couple of years Har- rison built on a four-room cottagelike wing, made of Transite and wood, which, while not very handsome, is at least habitable. In 1939, he added "the new living room"- -a vast, modern, circular thing, thirty feet in diameter and fifteen feet high, with white ce- ment-hlock walls, on which Mrs. Har- rison has painted a mural copied from a design by Lc...ger. While this triple- scoop concoction occasionally shakes the faith of prospective clients the first time they see it, it is home to Harrison, and sooner or later they learn to put up with it. Compared to Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corhusier, and several of us other prominent fellow-architects, who have a penchant for Olympian comment on all topics and a weakness for turning any ICite-...1-Cite into a filibuster, I larrison is a quiet man. In his ovvn way, though, he can be fairly eloquent. Preoccupied with the realitation that most people never achieve all they aspire to, he has a way Ill thinking and talking about the aver- age man in sympathetic diminutives- - s(unetimes as "the little fellow next door," sometimes as "the hard-pressed little bastard," but usually as just "the little gus. t These expressions, as 1 lar- rison uses them, convey a fueling quite the opposite of that other ss mpathetic diminutive, "the little man," as it was used so patroffizattgly a few years back.) When the little guy gets on I larrison's Ill ind, it is hard to get him off. One morning not long ago, he was kicking anitind the philosophy of his pnitession with a \ (HU rch acCt Oral !, radii:it(' of 1 ht'iilt School of Eine Arts, who had come to see him at his office, in the International Building, in Rockefeller Center, W 11(.11 he received an urgent all from Abrionovitz. Excusing himsch, 1liirison joined his partner In a confer- en, C noni, W 11C rl' two WI II -10'd (Mt sohui Ii'. 01, III tile windliratang for Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 THE NEW YIRRIKER pproved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676RUIROMMOVOIRKER a'new building their firm is designing? the Socony-Vacuum Building, which is to cover the entire block bounded by Third and Lexington Avenues and Forty-first and Forty-second Streets. Harrison returned to his visitor some twenty minutes later. "And that's the C rux of it," he said immediately, speak- ing as offhandedly as if he had never left the office. "Should the temple be on the hill, or should you walk down to it F All through history, man has put most of his public buildings up on the hill, to give' them an air of size and scope. It can It' dangerous. Most of the time, the building takes on an impersonal feeling. The little guy goes up the hill to it less and less frequently, and after a while he has no connection with it at all. The building" becomes an inanimate symbol of authority. All right, we know that's lou.4, so we'll build the temple in the market place. But is it going to have the dignity down there that the little guy wants it to have After all, he vyants something he earl look up to and put his faith in. It's quite :1 problem. 'Where the hell do we build it Conf rowed in some of the less meta- physical aspects of his profession, I larri- son often grows equally concerned. "Each time Volt Set Olit 011 a new build- ing, you try to make it as nearly perfect as possible," be said one day last spring to a group of friends with win iii he Was having an after-work drink in a bar near his office. "You know it won't be per- fect. You're lucky il you can come close. I think mayhe we did come close with Itoekefeller Center. Some of its build- ings are twenty years old now, hut they have every major facility the newest buildings have except air-conditioning, which is something ito tone knew much ahout WhC11 14'C thC111. Ill :111V cVc111, on iiuckeour mistakes and You try to profit from them the next time. I remember %chef) my wife :111(1 I were in It OI a few summers ago, looking at ryerything h? lichelangelo that we (otild inn!, and we came on his Piet.'1.' It's a really had piece of sculpture, no two ways about it. Stack it up alongside the 'David' or some of his things in the Sistine Chapel, and it has no mt?aning, giits at all, lecl hide better when oil discover that even the greatest artist in history could biuch joh nov, and then." Harrison took his hall-point dravyin pen rom his pocket and reached for ;I ILIper 11:11)k "I think it I elps to work in .1 111c Wc111 (100(11111g geometric shapes on 111c 11:II/kill, 50111c1hillg :11mllt this, C011101-1' 111:11 111:11.:cs nu realize you can't build :t perfect ((111(1 lug; you'd get laughed at if you thought you could. 'This country has a priceless quality we only half recognize. Americans are al- ways trying to do something new, but with a sense of balance. 1Ve're sort of a halfway post between radicalism and reaction. And we work hard. You go at your joh and you know you're bound to make your quota ,of errors, and you' also know that if by any chance you happen to produce something that's pretty damn good, it's ordt because You kept working at it. But that's always burn the stun . The great men always worked their heads off. IA, Bach, with all those kids, who had to compose an (oratorio every Sunday for Inc church. lu 1101 d0W11 itiol ',aid, feel like composing something inspired today.' Ile didn't 11:110 the time to think wheth- er 01' not 11C Was improvising 011 thCIIIC by Palestrina, or what hr 11:15 trying to do. It wasn't all pure, but on his good days it was something wonderful he was doing." I larrison turned the napkin over and attacked the clean side. "Vl'hatever von do, you can't stand still. My father W:1S 1 11C11 !_r_ood guy. Wit he- CalISC 110 thought everything was per- fect 1Vorcester, the Elks, the foundrv that he wlorked in and that was set up along the old lines, as if the workers wen. craftsmen. I saw it as a kid. And I saw hull rolled over by the modern factory. No matter what the cost is, uti've to move fm-ward:' H.Ilt.R 1,0N 55.05 1101.11 111 Worcester in I STS, the only child of .fames and lachel Kirkman Ilan-ism). The Harri- son and Kirkimon families both origi- nated in Yorkshire. 'File Kirkmans had been engravers as far back as anyone knew; they took the English industrial revolution in their stride by engrav- ing the rollcrs that sr:In-yeti prints on the cotton ntanti facture(' in the .1-ork,hire and Lancashire. 'Elie 1 1:11.1.i-i 11:111 10110Wi'd _1:1111c5 1:11.11s,011 St:01C11 Is :1 1110111C1. 111 :1 iron foundry and rose to ht su.perintendent of Rico & 13:irtun & I ilI, i coinhnLition ImIndry and imicinn,? shop. Young: 11:11-1-ik,on glow "I' 'It " tune 51111.11 tiff' "f the classic T American boy- hood had not let quite vanished from the fringes of Eastern cities. " There cci Ill cd In1,V0FCC5tt...1%, 1(011 001111111t ICH " the 51(0(1', 1 0111 11C111?, / I :11-11,:011 11P. 1 CC:11Ictl. "It W:1S a illIC 111C. \Arc 1001cti -.11?01111(1 cV1,11all thc 111 thcil- \ VC 1111110 '-4','i',oioit t uld hueket' sticks. In tin slimmers, wt. s111-.1111, :11Id fisinIl101" oR kcrcl and pet (-11 in toes Pond." \ lien Harrison sen fourteen, his mother died unexpectedly. "I just can't describe what a blow that was to my father and me," Harrison says. "I know' I lived with my father for a while atter that, but whether it was three months or a year,.I really have no idea. guess you would say I was in a state of prolonged shock. All I knew was that I had to do something and do it quick. I was a freshman in high school at the time, and I decided the best thing to (I() would be to leave school and get a job. A friend of my family's knew a Coil tractor it 0. W. Norcross, who had an opening for an office boy, at five dollars a week. 'Flutes how I got into architecture --I needed work. After a While, 111V father left Worcester and started nuiving fr(nn jo)b to job, so I went to room with the head office bot --a chap named /tarry Ntrinchester. Ilarry and I would get up at six-thirty, rush to eat breakfast, rush to see who could get to the office first?push, hus- tle, and compete all day. Then we'd rush home and stick our feet up on the stove and see who could get the most (out i if h(OlkS, With I fairy always a step ahead of me." .1fter I larrison had been with Norcross for two years, his salary was raised to nine dollars a week, and around that time he also got his first art !inert oral training-, when he was as- signed to draw some diagrams that would indicate to a stonecutter the size and shape of the stones he should supply for an architrave the molded frame around a door 01' 111'111110W, VOW' years Attu starting work, I larrison left Nor- cross to join the Worcester architectural firm of Frost & Chamberlain as a junior omit '.11101, While there, he enrolled . for a series of night course's in structural :engineering at Wrre, stet- Polytechnic Institute, (14-ged ill by a restlessness that found its (objective when an MI- posing modern office building designed ill' 0 ''.0 '.5' York firm went up on the eolg (of Worcester Common. "It was that !nodding that made it plain t(o tilt' xvh( le I wanted to lot' with the people who did that sort of work," Harrison "1.1'hen I switched from Norcross 1. lost & Chamberlain, I thought I'd find ,flit 111c lc:1,01r, thongs NVCre dune 1V:11 thcV IV) i((il 0111l to-Il Mc sv h1 al had to he one-sixth the NAlilth HI the opening. lli,oi is 111r I% :IV arch;tra yes were 11000 , the looked k?st th.(t wa\ that 1)1C1 t And Wile() :14:cd at Frost &. Chamberlain how the proportions ot in iI'( hitrave had In-ell 1111/Ictl, thc1'ol1(11 me that thus, th, proportkons prest rihed by 110110 iu LV son? book on architectural Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 NOVEMBER. ?0, 1954 standards. That didn't satisfy me, either. Surely, I figured, there were better reasons for doing or not doing a thing a certain way." In the summer of 1916, when Har- rison was twenty and had saved up thirty-five dollars, he came to New York and moved into a rooming house on West Twenty-third Street. Un- encumbered by letters of introduction, he walked into the offices of McKim, Mead & White, the most famous archi- tectural firm in the country at the time, and succeeded in getting an interview with its chief designer, William Mitchell Kendall. "Kendall told me there were no openings for draftsmen," Harrison says. "So I asked him if he'd let me work for nothing. That's youth for you?I had only about twenty dollars left in my pocket. Anyhow, Kendall told me to come back in a day or two, and when I did, he put me to work helping a man get up a book of draw- ings of hospitals. A couple of weeks later, they hired me at twenty a week." Since American schools of architec- ture at that time were rather rickety institutions, Harrison, on the advice of some of his associates at McKim, Mead & White, began attending an atelier for architects directed by Harvey Wiley Corbett. There were three ateliers in New York in those clays; one of the others was directed by Frederic C. Hirons and the third was conducted as an adjunct of the Columbia University School of Architecture. These ateliers had been established about twenty years earlier by a number of American archi- tects who had imported the idea from Paris after studying there at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, which since the seventeenth century had been acknowledged to be the world center of architectural thought. The first Parisian ateliers were set up by groups of wealthy students who disliked the idea of attending lectures with the rank and file at inconvenient hours, and, instead, hired a loft and paid some winner of the Beaux-Arts' Grand Prix to serve as their maitre. Over the years, atelier life became severely disciplined and developed an atmosphere about as gay as that at an Officer Candidate School, and the same came to be true of the ateliers in New York. The mem- bership cowisted of the nouveaux and the anciens, the latter being upperclass- men who had been in the atelier two years or more and were supposed to be already partially endowed with the wisdom of the maitre. Assisting the maitre was the massier?an upperclass- Rime four hundred miles north man elected by his fellow-anciens? Approved For Release 2002/08/21: CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 , from who had dictatorial powers over the nouveaux, and submitted them to the sort of hazing that is common to student life everywhere. Meanwhile, everyone would collaborate feverishly on some architectural riojct?the plans and specifications for a Loire clCiteau, per- haps, or for a railroad station. Whatever the limitations of this inbred system may have been, atelier life encouraged a har- dy esprit de corps, it gave the members lasting lessons in architectural design, and, transplanted to this country, it pro- vided students with a much better work- ing background than they could hope to pick up at any of the domestic schools. Upon enrolling as a no/41watt in Corbett's atelier, Harrison found him- self the slave of a gruelling schedule. He would finish work at McKim's at fivie, grab a bite to cat at a quick-lunch counter, and show up by five-thirty at the atelier, which was on West Thirty- sixth Street, on the fourth floor of the building occupied by Keen's Chop I louse. There he would spend three or four hours at his drawing board, along with the other students, who were either graduates of architectural schools or, like him, draftsmen intent on develop- ing their skill. Corbett, a lean, talkative Californian, preached the doctrine that architecture must have thrill and appeal, hut as he made his way from drawing board to drawing board, criticizing the work of the students, he emphasized that it must also provide space and conveni- ence. "Ile was the first person to give me the answers I'd been looking for," Harrison says. "He taught us the why of things, and if there wasn't any good reason for things being as tradition ruled they should be, he said so. You couldn't get that kind of answer at McKim's. McKim, Mead & White were the best?and the end?of the Renaissance. The firm stopped there. In McKim buildings like the Morgan Library and the University Club, you get the Ital- ians' richness of surface and their modi- fications of the Greek proportions. That was what McKim's style was, really? a catalogue of the strong points of the great Renaissance Italians. Say you were designing a private building and were going to provide it with an elabo- rate hedge of trees, shrubbery, and flow- ers. At McKim's, you would always be referred to the hedges Lippi did for , the Villa Medici. It was taken for granted that Lippi's dimensions were time best dimensions for hedges. Corbett's approach was different. I used to walk home from the atelier with him, and he'd spout away on the good and bad aspects of the buildings we passed. He'd point to the columns McKim's did for Penn Station, for instance, and ex- plain that the firm had narrowed the ? spaces between them at each end of the building to give it the illusion of sturdi- ness. But Corbett thought it was carry- ing the Renaissance much too far to make taxicabs swerve between pillars to get in and out of the station. Other eve- nings, we'd walk over to Grand Cen-. tral, and Corbett would point out why he thought its plan was superior to Penn Station's. Whitney Warren, the archi- tect of Grand Central, provided more entrances, of course, and placed them in such a way that traffic moves in and out of the station more easily." Harrison had been following this tight routine for about three months when, at the suggestion of his minister in 'Worcester, an old friend with whom ihe had kept up a correspondence, he moved from his Twenty-third Street ;rooming house to the parish house of ithe Calvary Episcopal Church, then at 104 East Twenty-second Street. He found the change much to his liking. "The young curates were a great bunch, full of pep and interested in everything," he says. "There was lively talk at every meal. Living there made me realize that there were other kinds of riches besides those of my monastical archi- tectural world." THE United States was drawing near to war. As a young man of military age, Harrison signed up for a weekly class in navigation at Columbia and became a member of the Naval Coastal Defense Reserve. His turn came in rtily, 1917, when he was called to active duty as a quartermaster second class. Soon afterward, he was com- missioned an ensign and assigned to Submarine Chaser-80 as second-in- command to Lieutenant Walter Blu- menthal, a member of the New York banking family, who was then two years out of Yale. A wooden ship, a hundred and ten feet long, with a fifteen-foot beam, and capable of ten knots (assum- ing there was a stiff following wind), the SC-80 astounded its two young offi- cers by crossing time Atlantic without se- rious mishap and was then assigned to the Otranto Barrage. This was the name given to an operation in which thirty-six American, French, and Eng- lish vessels, most of them no speedier than time SC-SO, patrolled time Strait of Otranto, a forty-five-mile strip between Cape Linguetta, in Albania, and the tip of the heel of Italy, in an effort to pre- vent Austrian submarines based at Aolo_r_o_ved THE NEW For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80B01676R004100060048-1 YORKER hreaking out of the Adriatic into the Mediterranean. The flotilla put On surprisingly good show, sinking two subs for sure and scoring- thirteen probables, and in the end further distinguished it- self by intercepting on its radio the Aus- trian plea for an armistice. 'lite SC-80 was thereupon ordered to proceed to Cattaro, on the Dalmatian coast, where its two officers were empowered to act as the American representatives at the armistice talks until more experienced men could be summoned to take over. Blumenthal anti Harrison lived high off the kebab during the two months they spent in Cattaro, and Harrison found the assignment so pleasant that although he doesn't ordinarily care for souvenirs, he still keeps a square of blue, white, and red striped oilcloth that was part of one of the earliest flags of the nation of Yugoslavia, which was born at the armistice conference. In February, thanks to the limita- tions of the SC-80, I larrison got his first glimpse of Paris. United States Naval Ifeadquarters for the Mediterranean, at Malta, feared that the wintry Atlantic would be too much for the pint-sized suhchaser, and ordered the ship to wait until spring before attempting the home crossing. While hibernating, the SC-80 put into Marseille for a week, which enabled Harrison to go up to Paris on a four-day leave. He spent most of his time there studying the workings of the Beaux-Arts, and returned to his ship determined to become a student at the school as soon as possible. "I could see that it was absolutely necessary for me to go there for an education," Harrison says. "For the first time in my life, I wasn't broke. I'd saved up over a thou- sand dollars in the Navy. 'clic only catch would be getting into the Beaux-Arts. The admission exam has always been pretty brutal. In my day, it lasted twelve hours, and you had to make a grade of seventy to pass. Most of the candidates spent six months in a preparatory atelier before they took the exam. Apparently, the object of the school was to see not how many students it could get but how few." ?Vith the coining of spring, the SC- 80 crawled back across the Atlantic, and on July 19, 1919, Harrison was do- charged. For the next couple of months, he bolstered his Navy savings by work- ing at McKim's, and attended some mathematics classes at Columbia in preparation for the Beaux-Arts exami- nation. In October, he went to Paris, took the examination, passed it com- fortably, found himself a cheap room on the Rue Jacob and a cheap restau- rant le luiuiiiIg in bean s,itip, and set- tled down to a t ear of study in an atelier presided over by Gustave Umhden- stock. "Boy, we were serious about our opinions ill those days!'' If arrison sacs. "I remember getting all strained up at a cab' one night and breaking im glass of wine a I slammed it (IOWA] On the OW to drive home some point I %A. as making about closet space. I was sort of a traditionalist in those dait s. I.ven such a moderate innovation as using large glass windows on the ground floor of a building made 110 sense to me, hecause it gave me the feeling the budd- ing didn't have sufficient support. I gradually learned to appreciate what the revolutionaries like N lies van der Rohe, (;ropius, and Le Corbusier were getting at, and, of course, they were right about many important matters, including some of their t riticisms of the lteaux-Arts. ymi can overrefine and oversystematize the life out of anything, and Beaux-Arts thinking had a tendency to do just that. Still, it seems to Inc the modernists went too far in their wholesale censuring of the approach the Beaux-.Arts stood for. Now, you take old Umbdenstock. Ile was a hell of a guy, one of those old- timers with the authentic rational spirit that's peculiar to a certain type of Frenclunan---a type, incidentally, that's getting rarer and rarer. He must have been over sixty then, a gruff old fellow with a shaggy Clemenceau mustache. At the atelier, he always wore an old, dented derby. I he'd walk around the studio?there were about thirty of us? and rip apart, one by one. He'd just scare you to death. Then he'd talk about balance and imbalance, and the qualities of poch( in a plan. That was Umbden- stock's big word: poch, poeG, the reason and order that lie behind even the most minute phases of planning. You find pocht' in the Paris Opera House and the Bibliothi.que Nation- ale - -the best buildings that Beaux-Arts architects ever produced. There's some- thing to the Beaux-Arts approach, too. You really can't dismiss all traditional building with glib avant-garde phrases." Back in New York after his year at the Beaux-Arts, 1 larrisiin worked for- a few months with lcKim and then got a in]) as a draftsman w ah firm headed by Bertram Ci osvenor The next year, he won R h Travelling Scholarship, offered to a Iiitects who have either studied or practiced in las- sachusetts, and with this he spent a few more months at the Beaux-Arts and toured various centers of ancient cul- ture, examining their architectural won- ders at first band and pondering what Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80B01676R004100060048-1 they had to offer a contemporary de- signer. Ile made five principal stops, after picking out in advance one build- ing, or ruin of a building, that he espy- Hall% wanted to study at each of them: iii Eg?pt, the temple of Luxor, the most complete of the remains of the colossal buildings that once stood on the plains of Thebes; in Athens, the Propylaea, the colonnaded gateway to the Acrop- olis; in Syria, tbe temple group at Baal- bek, which his friends had raved about-- and rightly, he decided -as the ultimate in Roman grandeur; in Arles, the Church of St. Trophime, whose twelfth- century Romanesque portico Goodhue adapted for St. Bartholomew's, in New York; and in Chartres, the Gothic cathedral. Harrison camped at each of these sites for six or eight weeks, soaking in the building's atmosphere, clambering over the structure from top to bottom, checking its dimensions with It measuring tape, sketching its orna- mental details, and making elaborate drawings of it from every angle. Ile originally intended to give this same full treatment to St. Sofia, in COnitanti- ilOPIC, but when he got there, the mosque left him cold, and he didn't even bother to take his measuring tape out of his pocket. trip made an enduring impres- sion on the young pilgrim. Although Harrison has never translated any pe- riod structure as literally hs Goodhue translated the portico of St. Trophime, he has frequently adapted ancient ideas I'm modern uses. Twenty-nine years after studying the temple of Luxor, for example, he borrowed from the Egyp- tians in devising, a method of light- ing the Corning Glass Works' dis- play center, in Corning, New York. "The Corning people wanted a setup in which they could show off their wares effectively to the visiting public," liar- 10011 says. "In the building we worked out for them, the visitor walks from one display room into another, and from one kind of light into another. The key is the dramatic handling of light, and no one has ever improved on the Egyptians in that department. The architect of a temple like Luxor was out to work on the eve of the beholder, like Cine- rama --trying to stagger you with con- trasts, and doing it. At Luxor, you login by walking down a double row of lions with intermittent patches of light. Then the architect plops you into a courtyard flooded with that blinding Fgyptian sunlight. You walk across that court', ard?it's as big as the Piazza of Si, Nlark's - -and enter a hall, a closed arcade of columns, each sixty feet high NCIVEM?APPoINItasePrAgAgYir YO1080601676R004100060048-1 and ten feet in diameter, with a faint light sifting down among them from the clerestory windows. You walk through this hall for quite a while--just how long a time you probably have no idea?and a feeling of awe and of sepa- ration from life rises inside you. You emerge into another courtyard?an- other rectangle of harsh sunlight?and then move forward into a sombre, shut- in passageway, and this grows narrower and darkee until, suddenly, you're there, standing in the holy of holies?a pitch- black room with one minute shaft of light, like a spotlight, streaking through a six-inch hole in the granite ceiling and picking up the climax, which is the fig- ure of the Cat God." RETURNING to New York in 1922, Harrison rejoined the Good- hue firm. Goodhue was a conscientious idealist who treated his employees like self-respecting guildsmen, allowing them lunch hours of Gothic proportions, so that if they wished, they could take in an art exhibit or some similar cultural liqueur before returning to the office; he even went so far as to have his staff present an annual Twelfth-night play, following the custom in the building trade during the Middle Ages. As an architect, Goodhue did not think primarily in terms of style; his position, when he took one, was roughly midway between that of McKim's, with its devo- tion to the cinquecento, and that of the young functionalist extremists, who wanted to tear down Paris, Rome, and even Stonehenge, and rebuild them from the ground up with proper fenestration. "Goodhue was an eclectic, and that's supposed to be the most damning word in the lexicon of the modernists," Harri- son says. "But whether he was doing a classical public structure, like the Na- tional Academy of Sciences Building, in Washington, or putting up a Gothic church, like St. Thomas, on Fifth Ave- nue, or striking out on his own, as he did in the I,os Angeles Public Library and the Nebraska State Capitol, his work showed taste and care and originality. The inscripthin on his me nusrial in the Chapel of the Intercession of Trinity Parish, here in New York, reads, 'He touched nothing which he did not beau- tify.' There can't be any argument with that." In the interests of efficiency, Good- hue's staff was divided into two groups of specialists - ow, T-Gothic, the other classical. Harrison was a classical man, having been hired specifically to super- intend the construction of the National Academy of Sciences l3uiholiiig, in which Goodhue sought to endow an up-to- date plan with an Athenian tranquil- lity. The Academy of Sciences Build- ing, which Harrison worked on for about two years, turned out well? so well, in fact, that it later served as a guide, and sometimes as a blueprint, for architects all over the country who were commissioned to design i'mod- : ernized-classical" courthouses, libraries, - galleries, and other public buildings. From time to time, Harrison was taken off the Academy of Sciences Building in order to help work out the designs for the tower of the Nebraska State Capitol, since it was Goodhue's policy to call in outside men occasionally to get a fresh point of view on some phase of a project that might be going stale. Goodhue died, quite suddenly, on April 23, 1224. "I think it was on a week- end," Harrison says. "It seems to me I came in to work on a Monday and . learned that I'd been fired. The Gothic " group had taken over. Most of us clas- sical fellows were out on our cars. I was, anyhow." Harrison and another classical (flit- cast, the late Robert Rogers, decided to ? go into business for themselves. They rented office space in the National As- sociation Building, at 25 %Vest Forty- third Street, and set about corraling clients. "Ihrough a cousin of Rogers' who was the local sales representative for a company that put out grated cheese, they wangled a commission to remodel the front of the Cheshire Cheese Restaurant, on %Vest Forty- third Street. The front was only eight- een feet high and twelve feet wide, but the partners labored over that facade Is r twelve months; it gave them some- thing to do when they were not out scouring the town for their second cus- tomer, whom they never found. Rogers had some money of his own to tide him over, but I larrison was reduced to tak- ing in architectural washing. His for- mer maitre, Corbett, gave him an odd job now and then designing minor parts of buildings, and Raymond Hood, a brilliant alumnus of Goodhue's who IN a S now doing- very well on his own, helped out by thinking of I larrison whenever he needed perspective sketches. .?\ fter a year of just scraping by, Harrison, following up a tip from Corbett part- ner, Frank J. applied for, and got, a lob as associate architect tor the New York City Board of Education, and he 31101 his partner, their restaurant front finished and their patience ex- hausted, happily dissolved their firm. 1 larrison's new job paid scvent? -five hundred dollars a year, vs Inch he thought "perfectly enormous"?so enormous, in fact, that he felt free to marry Miss Milton, a young New York social work- er whom he had known for two years. The job itself turned out to be nothing much. In the course of one of the Board of Education's periodic efforts to (10 something about the shortage of schools, some municipal statistician had figured out that a new school would have to be completed every three days for the next year to provide adequate facilities. Re- sponding to this challenge, the Mayor, John Hylan, who was no man to do things by halves, had ordered five hun- dred draftsmen and designers rounded up and installed in a mammoth room in a loft building at the Brooklyn end of the Williamsburg Bridge, with instruc- tions to turn out plans for new schools at printing-press speed. Harrison was brought in to supervise all five hundred of them. To his dismay, he found that he was expected to make a daily in- spection tour of the room, stopping at each drawing board long enough to drop some incisive critical observation. It took Harrison nearly six months to get around the room once. "By the time I got back to the first board, I found that the design had been approved by some official while I was out in center field, and contractors were already bid- ding on it," he recalls. "Same thing the second time around. IIell, I wasn't doing any good at all." Harrison re- signed at the end of a year and took a part-time job teaching design at the Columbia School of Architecture. Then, in January, 1 927, I Ielmle, his good angel, got in touch with him again and invited him to join the firm of Corhett, as a junior partner. At the time 'Mink & Corbett be- came I 'clink, Corbett & Harrison, the firm was engaged in a number of proj- ects that were both financially and ar- tistically stimulating, among them the Roerich Museum, on Riverside Drive, and No. 1 Fifth Avenue, and, in Allen- town, Pennsylvania, a twenty-three- story skyscraper; it was buildings of this sort that, three years later, prompted the Rockefellers to pick the firm, along with three others, to design Rockefeller Cen- ter. Harrison felt that at last he had found his niche. "I finally knew for sure that I wanted to be a modern architect," he told a companion one day early last spring as they were cross- ing the Plaza of Rockefeller Center on their way to I larrison's office. "I don't mean I was a purist. That isn't in me. Bot while I was hacking away at the Board of Education, it became absolute- ly clear to me that the only sound :11)- Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 THE NEW YORKRoved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 proach to architecture is to think in terms of the people who will be us- ing the building?that the function of architecture is to take care of human beings in a pleasant way. Say it's a school you're doing. The question you've got to ask yourself is: 'how do I utilize the best principles of design and the advances of our modern technology so that we get something here in which the teachers and the pupils?and the little guys who make up the commu- nity?can come together in the most agreeable atmosphere we can create for them?' That was how Corbett and Ilelmle looked at architecture, too. And the firm was busy ! I had to take work home every night. For the first time in I don't know how long, I had my feet under me?lots of work to do, and good, steady pay for doing it." Harrison slowed his ambling gait and looked down at the skaters whirling below on the ice of the sunken plaza. "Do you know what an architect is?" he asked, smiling wryly. "When all is said and done, an architect is a designer with a client." ?II ER BERT WARREN WIND This is the first of three articles on Mr. Harrison.) ? CORRECTION Former Vice President Henry Wallace is probably still puzzling over last Tuesday's column. Prob- ably readers are puzzled too. The column, which referred to Eisen- hower's efforts to study the prob- lem of Oakies, Arkies and mi- grant workers, contained this sentence: "Wallace was one of the few government officials who ever tried to migrate across the U.S." Frankly 1 was thunderstruck when 1 saw this line in print. So probably was the Wallace family. "Fhe ex-vice president, ex -secre- tary of agriculture did move from I)es Moines, Iowa, to Washington to join the Roosevelt cabinet and now lives on a farm north of New York City. But he certainly did not migrate across the United States in the usual sense of the word, and he certainly was no mi- grant farm hand. So I looked up the column as I originally wrote it. It read: "Wal - lace was one of the few govern- ment officials who ever tried to do much about the Oakies, Arkies and itinerant farm hands who mi- pened was that the teletype op- grate across the .U.S." What hap- erator skipped one line. My apolo- gies. Ifowever, considering all the copy they have to transmit, it's a wonder teletype operators don't make more mistakes.?Drew Pear- son in the Pottsville (Pa.) Repub- lican. What makes you think they don't? There's a growing trend toward travel to Europe in the Winter, Spring and Fall. Not only on the part of seasoned travelers but by first-time visitors as well. And with good reason, too! In `Thrift Season", transatlantic fares?by sea or air?are lower and bookings are easier to obtain. Travel in Europe is supremely comfortable, hotels are less crowded and?unhampered by the summer rush?you have a better opportunity to get to know the real Europe, to meet and mingle with her friendly people?at work and at play! Sec your Travel Agent ?now! For further infor- mation, write each country in which interested. Address: National Tourist Mice of (name of country), Box 258, Dept. E, New York 17. N. Y. EUROPEAN TRAVEL COMMISSION AUSTRIA ? BELGIUM ? DENMARK ? FINLAND ? FRANCE ? CI ARIAN Y ? GREAT ARITA IN Mat ? ICfLAND ? IRILAND ? ITALY ? I UXIAIROUPG ? MONACO ? stOol ailOIDS NORWAY ? PORTUGAL ? SPAIN ? SWLDLN ? SWITZERLAND ? TURKEL' ? YUGOSLAVIA Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 SI ..?Prt0FILES...) II--THE NEXT to Frank Lloyd Wright, who, as the father of modern American archi- tecture and perhaps its only true genius, occupies a unique position in his field, the person commonly regarded as the most influential figure in present-day building de- sign in this country is Wallace K. Harrison. A fifty-nine-year-old New York architect who has been associated with about seven hun- dred million dollars' worth of new buildings 'during the last quarter of a century and was a member of the seven-man team of architects re- sponsible for Rockefeller Center, Harrison was nevertheless largely unknown outside his profession .until he took on the job of architect- in-chief of the headquarters of the United Nations. Except for his pre- dilection for wearing shirts of faint- ly Left Bank hues and for daubing away at tortuous abstract paintings when his spirits sag, there is little or nothing in Harrison's appearance or manner that fits the classic concept of a high-geared creative temperament. A tall, rugged man with a stalwart con- science, who fell into architecture by accident when, at the age of fourteen, he went to work as an office boy with a construction company in his native Worcester, Massachusetts, Harrison talks with a raspy New England twang, wears what is left of his gray-brown hair at a conventional length, adheres whenever possible to a nine-to-five working schedule, and regards potato farming as the consummate hobby. "Wally's a perfect Yankee?always was and always will be," an architect who has known Harrison for thirty-five years Said recently. "That's one of the reasons he gets along so well with for- eigners, like the members of the inter- national board of design who worked with him on the U.N.?he's exactly what they expect an American to he like. Wally's as plain as an 01(1 shoe. It's no fa?e. He really is. But he's a fellow who learns from experience and he's had a lot of it, so today he's also a very sophisticated man. He understands busi- nessmen, politicians, and scientists just about as well as he understands archi- tects and other artistic types. They all feel, when they first talk with Wally, that here, at last, is a kindred soul. He's AR.CHITECT SOUAR.E THAT BECAME. A CENTER really a sort of Renaissance man ?a latter-day Michelangelo or Leonardo, completely at home in many different worlds, even in this age of specialists." Over the years, Harrison, who has a way of becoming personally attached to the people he works with, has developed a wide and varied circle of friends that includes painters, bankers, construction foremen, high-ranking statesmen of many countries, Kiwanians, conserva- tive and socialist tuditieal phibistiphers, Steel magnates, and Latin-American poets. Ile is always intensely concerned about their problems, professional or personal, and these arc likely to involve him on so many levels at once that his associates sometimes wish they had a score card to identify the players. Last autumn, for example, while he was chatting in his office with a young man- ufacturer of plastics, his secretary put a phone call through to him. "I had no idea who Wally was talking to," the plastics man said later, "but they were evidently discussing somebody who was in very had straits?most likely, I fig- ured, one of Vally's floundering artist friends who was only a couple of steps from potter's field. Wally, I could see, was deeply disturbed. He kept pawing his eyebrows and repeating phrases like 'We must do everything we can for him' and 'He was our friend when we needed him.' After he hung up, he didn't say anything for quite some time, and then he told me, 'We were talk- Approved For Release 2002/08/21 ing about Trygve Lie. We mustn't forget him now that he's left the U. N. and retired to private life. Few people appreciate the terrific ji:.;d.bheturned in as Secretary-Gen- rWhile IIarrison's colleagues arc generally agreed that he is a sound engineer and an adventurous de- signer who brings a fine creative continuity to his buildings, they are also getter:ilk agreed that, for all his talent, it is his Renaissance-man range of understanding and adapt- ability that principally accounts for the tremendous intltlenC,' he hati had on modern architecture. "The lug thing is the respect \Vally I lar- rison commands in the business world," the eminent architectural historian Talbot Hamlin remarked not long ago. "Over the last twenty years, he's been a partner in firms that have controlled a good deal of the big money. At the outset, his connec- tion ovith Rockefeller Center gave him a reputation that the business world looked tip to. And now, of course, the U.N. job has added enormously to his prestige. It's given him something of the status of an international statesman. All in all, he's achieved an extraor- dinarily powerful position for an archi- tect, .ind he's used it admirably. Ile's been so phenomenally successful in gaining the confidence of businessmen that they've begun to accept innovations in modern architecture more readily than they ever did before. Thanks to him, ma-nv business leaders have actually become enthusiasts for the best HI pro- gressive design. Harrison has won a new kind of respect for the entire profession. I shudder when I think what could I nit e happened if the same opportunities had fallen into the hands of a man who was less responsible, or less creative, or both." For his part, Harrison is inclined to in- terpret the aesthetic headway he has made in his dealings with the husiness community as support of his belief that architecture can rarely, if ever, be ap- proached as pure art. "When 1,e Cor- busier came over to work w;th us IM the plans for the United Nations, he said to Inc more than once that he had never compromised with his principles," Ii ar- rison told a friend a while ago. "That's probably true of Corhu - --never compro- mising,. \Veil, I've compromised more : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 52 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 than once. Reality demands it, if tlu? huilding's going to get built. The people who talk about conceiving perfection and sticking to it have never had to get down on the :,round and get their hands dirty. Out in Texas we've been working on an office buildiniz for thy Republic National liank of Dallas. Its thirty-six stories high far and away the tallest building ever put up in that part of the coun- try. To emphasize that fact, our client wanted to top it off with some distinc- tive emblem that could he seen for miles away across the plains?a landmark by day and hy night. kVe drew up a number of designs. The client didn't like them. I le had his OW n hally wanted a replica of the Statue of Liberty, with the torch lit up. Now, what do you do in a case like that? Tell him he can't have it? If he wants it, he'll have one put up anyway. All you can do is present what you consider superior de- signs as forcefully as you can, and hope your arguments will sink in.'' In this instance, I larrisnn gained a distinct vic- tory. The client scrapped the Statue of Liberty idea in the hope of hitting upon symbol !mire truly representative of Texas hut finally reversed his field and settled for a simple, spikelike spire that Harrison considers not half bad. A man who thrives on change of pace, Harrisun has designed private hnuses, naval installations, hnusing de- velnpments (iii Bnioklyn, QUCCI1S, and the lironx1, service men's centers, fac- turies, embassies, a hotel, a hnspital, and a building for a ion. His fellow-archi- tects, however, think of him primarily as a specialist in office buildings, and with reason, for he has had a hand in the design and construction of almost a score of them, nearly all skyscrapers. His firm, Harrison & Abramovitz, is currently at work Oil two more big nffice buildings, both of them scheduled to be cumpleted in 1956. One of these is a nineteen-sturv structure for the United States Rubber Ciunpany that is piing up tin the site of the old Center Theatre, at Sixth A Veil lie and Forty- ninth Street, and the other, forty-two stories tall, is being built for the Socony- Vacuum Company and will occupy the entire block bounded by Forty-first and Forty-second Streets and Third and Lexington Avenues. Harrison has long pondered the basic arguments for and against sk? scrapers, which many inter- nationally mm dud critics regard as the one truly original con- tribution America has made to- architecture, and he has come to the conclusion that there are mnre good things than bad to be said for them, provided that there is sufficient space between them -as he feels there is at Rockefeller Center?to admit the proper amount of fresh air d sunlight. Not everybody, of course, has a plot the size of Rockefeller C.7enter's to fool aniund with, but lIarrison be- lieves that wals and means of assuring open space can always be devised if the architect is n-ally sold on its merits. For instance, the base of the forty- t w 0-st I) ry Socony-Vacuum Building will be only three stories high; nn this will stand two separate, well set-hack, eleven-story slabs, connected by it central tower that will rise twenty-eight stories above them. By way of stressing the fresh-air-and-sunlight theme, llarrison is thinking of plant- ing grass, trees, and shrubs on the nlnt of the three-story part of the building, with, possibly, an abbreviated brook purling among them. "It's your wife, Ed. Want to listen to her?" HARRisoN's first experience in designing skyscrapers came in 1928, shortly after he had become a junior partner in the architectural ti rut headed by Frank j. IL:link and Har- vey Wiley Cnrbett. firm of Ilelmle & Corbett was one of the country's busiest and Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 best, and for Harrison, a rather gaunt and run-down thirty-one at the time he was asked to join it, its decision to take him in was pretty .much of a lifesaver. Since he had never had any money except what he contrived to earn, his years of architectural apprenticeship had , been rather tough going. During that period, in which he put in a little over a year at the Ecole Nationale Supi:rieure des Beaux-Arts, in Paris, with the help of a scholarship and a thousand dol- lars he had saved up as a naval en- sign in the: First World War, he had slowly changed from a devout, if inquiring, traditionalist to a modern- ist?not an extreme modernist, to be sure, but a thoroughgoing functionalist. This position corresponded quite closely to that held by Corbett, the wheel horse of the firm and a recognized leader in office-building design. From 1914 on, Corbett, an angular, vocal, red-headed engineer from California who had studied at the Beaux-Arts himself, had been championing the so-called "stripped classical" office building, a structure of simple, vertical lines un- marred by banks of Ionic columns or any of the other standard motifs of the ? well-bred facade. Today, of course, Corbett's views are . commonplace, but in the first quarter of this century they were considered radical, for the ? skyscraper was a long time finding itself. Since there has never been any real agreement on how high a building: moist be to be considered a skyscraper, it is impossible to say who designed the first one, but certainly Chicago architects were ahead of all others in recognizing the advantages of height in meeting the problem of housing large businesses un- der a single roof. In 1885, William Le Baron Jenne)/ put up a ten-story building, supported by a steel frame- work, for the Home Insurance Com- pany in that city, and six years later the sixteen-story Nionadnock 13u11ding, also in Chicago, was completed, setting an all-time altitude record for a structure whose entire weight was horne by ma- sonry walls. (To bear that weight, it was necessary to make the NIonadnoul's walls twelve feet thick at the base. ) In 1895, Louis Sullivan, of the Chicago firm of Adler & Sullivan, built, in Buf- falo, what many authorities regard as the finest of the early skx scrapers, the thirteen-story Guaranty Gradually, hoWeVer, New York became the center of skyscraper construction for a number of reasons, including the tend- ency of big Inisinc;,sisi,,t,,concentrate in l Nanhattan, tileera rise in the price of land on which to build here, and the island's hard-rock substratum, which provided a good support for the tremendous weights involved. In 1913, Cass Gilhert's NVoolworth Building was opened on lower Broadway; seven hun- dred and ninety-two feet high, with an eighteen-story tower rising above its forty-two-story base, it was the tallest building the world had ever seen. Not long afterward, the municipal authori- ties became alarmed at the spread of shoulder-to-shoulder skyscraper con- struction, which had already made a sunless gulch of ?Vall Street, :1/1(1 passed it zoning law that put an end to sheer vertical walls and required architects to provide more light by tapering their buildings with setbacks every few stories. No ceiling was placed on the towers of buildings, however, and in 1931, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon showed the world what a tower could be when the firm's hundred-and-two-story Empire State Building was completed, setting a rue ()rd for I()ftiness twelve hundred and fifty feet?that stands to this day. At about the time Harrison joined & Corbett, the firm was draw- ing up plans for a twenty-three-story skyscraper that the Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. wanted to build in Allen- town. "That building, the first sky- scraper I ever worked on, has always seemed to me to be the perfect illus- tration of why the skyscraper was the logical answer to the changing business scene in this country," I la I'lltiM1 re- marked not long ago. "Pennsylvania Power and Light had started out with joist a simple office in .-111entown. As its business kept growing, it had to keep finding new office space. By the late twenties, it had taken over ten or twelve houses on both sides of one of Allentoyyn's main streets and was using each house for :1 separate department. In the skyscraper we built, these de- partments were Placed one on top of another, and the increase in etii(iency was enormous. You i:111 lose a harrel If time, among other things, in a strung- out horizontal la? out. To give \ on an example, when I was down in Wash- ington (hiring the war, workings for Inter- \ merican hairs, nit office was at the southeast corner (if the seventh floor of the Commerce Budding, and in\ boss's was at tile northwest rorn,r If the se(uuni floor. ( )le 41:11 Ik 1,/,'ked it to See 111/W 1,11g it tk 111(' to gut ,101_ ?-t?\ (AI (11)Wn th(nrl'. AMC t minutcs, 1111 a 111.,It?rn ,c raper, V, here the horiont;i1 41i,st:incc,.. don't rc-;u hit 111:Ittcr 11111Ch, ,11 th,11't 111111: :t it liku- th;:t, long an efficient relationship between the height of the building and the elevator 'system. Fifteen stories is about ideal for each bank of elevators. NVe've found that if you run a bank any higher than fifteen, there's too much waiting. You could increase the speed of the elevators,, all right, but human beings couldn't take it." April, 1929, about two years after I I elmle & Corbett had becomt Helmle, Corbett & Harrison, Helmle retired and 1Villiam II. MacNIurray- was taken in as a partner. Late in 1929, the new firm of Corbett, Harrison & Nlai-Nlurray was chosen, after a com- petition, to collaborate with two other architectural firms on the project that in time became Rockefeller Center. Of the two other firms, one, also chosen as the : result of the competition, was Hood & Fouilhoux, consisting of Raymond Hood, who had designed the Daily News Building, on East Forty-second Street, and .-?ndri.. Fouilhoux, a French- : born architect and engineer. Thu third ?firm was Reinhard & I lofmeister, con- sistiT, of Andrew Reinhard and Ilenry Iluufmuister, who did not Ime, to com- pete, because t hey were regtilarly as- sociated with the construction enter- priecs (It John R. Todd, and Todd had been selected to run the Rockefeller Center show. A highly successful op- erator in the fiercely competitive field of renting office spacc, Tntld WAS also prunintcr and builder and haul been ini:urilt responsible for the construc- tion ui such blue-chip ventures as the Cunard Building, the Architects tilt Ritz Towers, the Barcla\ and the (;raybar Building. Ile was a big, inguni(ws, and frasciblu nian, and, being suspicious of architects, he V us sehlum happier than when baiting 111-,111111ellt one. After summoning }food to his offiu e, iii the Graybar ;Ind informing him that he had been t hosen as one of the architects of the Rockeieller project, Todd turned to windoW, W:1Ved a hand in the direction Hi Hood's celebrated Daily News Build- inu,, and growled, "\Ve're hirm!' soul not on :10, ,d that 1)10 in Spite 1/1 Tittld 111111sCli had got in on tiltprIt,t durinu,, the summer oi 1929, wh, n Rauckelellua Center or Aletropolaan :square, :us it 1% :1. then C:111ell W:1S 111.11C Inocrt? 111.111 :111 in Ow mind of jolm I). Ro,kcfebbtr, r. Back in 1 Rot kcIeller, thini!rh not :in ardunt 11:141 Isecil wrstimird ic ()th, Kahn 111:11 :New York ought nu hale a new opera house that would rank It 1111 tile lint's( 111 the wodd. \void Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 THE NEW YORKER Approved For Release 2002/08/21 of this got around, it was greeted with bravoes and promises of support by the trustees and the more illustrious patrons. of the Metropolitan Opera Company,' and, thus encouraged, Rockefeller, in January, 1929, leased a tract of land he had had his eve on from Columbia University, which had received it by, grant of the state legislature early in the - nineteenth century. This tract, of some twelve and a half acres, comprised, roughly, the three blocks bounded by Forty-eighth and Fifty-first Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The lease, calling for an annual rent of about three million dollars, was for twenty-four years, with renewal options until the year 20 1 5. It was originally planned that the opera house, to be designed by Benjamin Wistar Morris, would be situated at the heart of the plot, and buildings on the remainder of the land would be rented ? out to commercial interests as offices and shops. Rockefeller had barely complet- ed the negotiations with Columbia when: word reached him that, for several corn-1 plex reasons, mostly stemming from; clashes of personality, the Metropolitan: people's eagerness to have a new opera house had utterly subsided. Jolting asi this intelligence must have been even to a Rockefeller, John D., Jr., rolled with the blow. lie resolved to go ahead just the same with a midtown cultural and business center, and chose Todd to head a board of five managers who would build and operate the project. Todd's 'firm, the Todd, Robertson,. Todd Engineering Corporation, was to let all the contracts and dig up suitable tenants, including cultural ones. Todd was to he responsible only to Rocke- feller. Early in 1930, after a lengthy search for something that could fittingly take the place of grand opera as the cen- tral attraction of the development, Todd and his board decided that the best bet was radio- -the big new medium of mass entertainment. NVith Rockefeller's blessing, 'Fodd took his idea to ()wen I). Young, the chairman of the board of the Radio Corporation of America, who passed it along to David Sarnuff, the president of R.C.A., and the upshot SN :IS that R.C.A., together with its subsidiary, the National Broadcasting Company, and Radio-Keith-Orpheum, agreed to rent a vast amount of space in the Center and make it their head- quarters. Thus the Radio City hranch of Rockefeller Center came into being. Actual construction on the first build- ing the R .K.O. was started in Sep- tember, 1931 . The riveting could be heard blocks away, for the depression : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 was closing in and no other construction was in progress in the city. By that time, Todd agents had been sent abroad to try to interest companies in various Eu- ropean countries in banding together on a national basis, with each group taking a building as ,a focal point for , their commercial activities in the United States. The agents were a diligent lot, and it was out of their efforts that the present British Empire Building, the NIaison Francaise, and the Palazzo d'Italia materialized. For all the lofty intentions of its back- er, Rockefeller Center might have be- come nothing more than a covey of Graybar Buildings roosting on some of the most expensive land in the world if the architects who designed it had not been an unusually independent lot. For years, American a rchitects had been dreaming of the magnificent things they would do if ever they were given the 111(111(.1', the site, and the freedom to build a city from the ground up a city of towering buildings and broad vistas that would dennin,trate the beauty of space :is well as 01 mass. Of course, none of them expected such an opportunity to come their way, and there were cynics who said that even if it did, high aspira- tions would soon yield to the pressure of the client's insistence upon the tried and true. Now, all of a sudden, seven of these architects found themselves in a position to design, if not a whole city, at least a city within a city along the Imes of their most improbable dreams. To be sure, the fortunate seven could not utterly disregard Todd and his pre- occupation with conservative, tenant- pleasing, revenue-producing design, but, by and large, Corbett, Fouilhoux, I lar- rison, I 1 ot meister, h11, \lac:\ 1 u 'TAY, and Reinhard managed to create a coin- munitl of buildings that only a few years before would have been considered hopelessll visionary. They set up thvir headquarters in the Gra har Buildino, in two large rooms, one ectly above the other, that were connected by a cir- cular Iron staircase. Each room was about a hundred and thirty teet lono and lorty leet wide, 0 after :1 conference room :Ind the princird,: 11;111111,111rd ill, di( re was plenty ot space left tor the desks and drawm!r boards 01 tile draftsmen :11111 deshiiners I. man as a hundred at .1 time -who worked on the leans. Hie place was also fin nish?1 with a lar.,ie table, ,lit whik h Renk' Chiunhcllan, the sculptor, made clay models of the vari,ais plans under di.k n.ston; triintects find models useful in determining which of their exploratory ideas will work out best in three dimensions. 'File architectural combine plodded away in these quarters for some three years, by which time the designs for the first ten of the fourteen buildings that were originally planned for the Center had been completed. Anxious as they were about the individ- ual features of each building, the archi- tects' overriding concern was to settle on a unified plan for the entire Center. Of the hundreds of preliminary plans dreamed up, mulled over, and rejected, the most fanciful was one that proposed covering the three blocks with one mammoth pyramidal complex of struc- tures linked by subterranean streets and aerial ramps for both pedestrians and automobiles. There was a brief period, too, in which some consideration was given to the notion of treating the three blocks as a Chinese walled city, but this was discarded because the architects de- cided it not only was wrong aesthetically llilt also might discourage shoppers from entering the compound. The first plan to be adopted, early in I 930, had as its key structure on Fifth Avenue an elliptically shaped building, fourteen stories high, to be situated be- tween Forty-ninth :111(1 Fiftieth Streets, with its longer axis running east and west; behind it was to be an open space, now the Plaza, anti, behind that, the lofty R .0 -\. Building, with its hand- some and original setbacks. Todd and his associates were banking on the curv- ing lines to lure the public off the Ave- nue and into the stores that were to omprise a fashionable shopping center III and around the lower level of the Plaza. In \larch, 1 93 1, a diagram of this plan and a photograph of a model of the elliptical building were released Ii) thc press. There followed what the Tino., called, in an editorial, "a perfect stream Id (O111_'Cti()11, 011e Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 i3 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 NOVEMBER 2 7 9 19 34 may say, wondering malediction," di- rected principally against the elliptical building?it looked a good deal like a lady's hatbox?which, in the opinion of many highly articulate New Yorkers, violated the plan for the whole Center and completely muffed a heaven-sent, opportunity to beaUtify the city. "I doubt if any other architectural under- taking ever received such a lambast- ing," Harrison says. "All of us at the Graybar thought we'd be fired, but John D., jr., stood behind us. Ile sim- ply said, 'I never read the papers when they criticize men who are working for me.' " Nevertheless, in the face of such violent opposition, the architects decid- ed to abandon the elliptical building in favor of the two rectangular six-story buildings that are now the British Em- pire Building and the Maison Francaise. No one will ever know what effect those curving, hatbox lines would have had on shoppers, but there is no denying that the sixty-foot-wide promenade running between the present two build- ings has succeeded. in luring as many people onto the grounds of the, Center as even Todd could have wished. At first, however, most of them just strolled there, and the question was how to entice them down into the shops in the Lower Plaza. Slowly and pain- fully, while buildings continued to go up all around them, the architects and Todd's building officials fumbled their way to a solution. First, they installed the statue of Prometheus and its accom- panying fountains in the Plaza, and then they persuaded the Cafe Francais and the English Grill, which had been op- erating on the street level, to try their luck at the Lower Plaza's south and north ends, respectively, each of them being given fifty per cent of the open area facing Prometheus for outdoor ta- bles. At that point, cold weather set in, and the Lower Plaza stood as bare and empty as ever. Finally, since there seemed to be no better suggestions, the now famous skating rink was tried out, as a desperate means of putting the empty space to some use, however slight. To almost everyone's astonishment, the rink caught on immediately, and the shops around it have prospered ever since. "That's the way .it goes some- times," Corbett once said. "The skat- ing rink turned out to be the perfect attraction for Rockefeller Center, and planning had nothing to do with it. On the other hand, planning can, of course, work wonders. By giving up sixty feet of Fifth Avenue frontage? an unheard-of thing at the time?and Approved For Release 2002/08/21 using it as a channel between the French and British buildings, we sacrificed an obvious source of revenue. But in do- ing so we increased the value of the land inside the Center immeasurably. It's funny, but when a job of designing is tackled with honest-to-goodness im- agination, and perhaps a touch of dar- ing, you usually discover that it produces ? the only kind of architecture that really ? pays off in dollars and cents." By the autumn of 1933, some two years after the excavating started, the first seven of the buildings were fin- ? ished: the R.K.O. Building (thirty- one stories) in October, 1932; the ? Radio City Music Hall (ten stories) ? and the Center Theatre (nine stories) in December, 1932; the R.C.A. Build- ing (seventy stories), the R.C.A. Build- ing West (sixteen stories), and the British Empire Building (six stories) ? in May, 1933; and the Maison Fran- caise (six stories) in September, 1933. By then, too, ground had been broken for three more buildings?the Palaz- zo d'Italia (six stories), the Interna- tional Building (forty-one stories), ; and the International Building North (six stories). This threesome, front- ing Fifth Avenue between Fiftieth and Fifty-first Streets, opened in May, 1935. Meanwhile, flood, the driving force of the architectural collaboration, had died in August, 1934, and his death ,! precipitated changes in two of the three firms working on the Center. Har- rison dropped out of Corbett, Harri- son & MacMurray and, after a year or so as an independent, he and Hood's partner formed the firm of Harrison & Fouilhoux. Corbett, Harrison & Mac- Murray then became Corbett & Mac- Murray. Reinhard & Hofmeister re- mained Reinhard 81 flofmeister. This ; setup prevailed until the thirty-six-story Time & Life Building was completed, 4 131 SAND-WI C H E5 11) in April, 1937, after which Corbett & MacMurray stepped out of the picture, leaving the two remaining firms to fin- ish up the Center with three more buildings: the fifteen-story Associated Press Building, opened in November, 1938; the sixteen-story Eastern Air Lines Building, opened in October, 1939; and the twenty-story United States Rubber Company Building, opened in April, 1940. 1,A/id' these clone, the architectural team disbanded. In 1946, when the thirty-three-story Esso Building was announced as an added starter, Harrison was named as con- sultant to the architects in charge. IN the course of the decade or so that I la rrison spent with Rockefeller Center, his status both as an architect and as a man of the world changed no- tably. In his middle thirties at the outset, he was the youngest of the seven archi- tects, and during the conferences at which high-level policies were threshed out by his associates, Rockefeller's advis- ers, Todd's men, and officials of Com- who had agreed to take office space in one or another of the buildings, he was seldom asked for his views. "I didn't get anywhere until I took up cigars," Harrison says now. "The big conferences were held in the Graybar Building after a lavish lunch or dinner at the Barclay, and I'd come into the conference room from the dining room bursting with ideas. The minute I saw a chance to speak up, I spoke up. Even when I knew my points were damn good, they never made the slightest impression on anyone. It took me a couple of months to figure it out. It wasn't so much that I was a kid com- pared to the rest of them. The trouble was that I 'd been wasting my ammuni- tion --I'd been doing my talking before the older men had digested their meals and were ready to think. I wasn't a cigar smoker, hilt front that time on, when they passed the cigars around, I took one, and waited till we had all puffed them down to the butt before I said a word. It really made a dif- f e rence." As Rockefeller Center took shape, Harrison came to be more and more respected by his associates as a good all-round man to have on the team. A good many of the people connected with the Center in those days feel that it was he who, after Hood's death, emerged as the stianig man, capable of pushing through the necessary agree- ments between the architects and the management before differences of opin- ion degenerated into a test of egos, as CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 THE NEW YORKER conflicts have a way of doing once the initial enthusiasm for any long- term collaborative enterprise has evap- orated. While no one architect can he credited with the design of any of the Center buildings, it is clear that, as time went on, Harrison's ideas began to carry increasing weight with his colleagues, and in consequence, experts think, some of the later buildings embody a good many of them?particularly the Eastern Air Lines Building, which was the Cen- ter's first slab-style structure. From the very inception of the Center, I larrison had been plumping for the slab, con- vinced that the simpler the form of any object, the stronger its impact. For that reason, too, lie was opposed to the set- backs on the front of the R.C.A. Build- ing; he, argued that they would give it a consciously artistic touch that might not wear well. The front was set back any- way, but six years later, in 1 938, when plans for the Eastern Air Lines Build- ing came up for consideration, Harri- son's colleagues were ready to go along with him on the idea of unbroken slabs. They approached this new project bold- ly. The eleven-story tower of the build- ing, rising onindented and unadorned above a five-story spread-out base, is almost as sheerly rectangular as a matchbox. Because the Eastern Air Lines Building looks so small next to its 13robdingnagian neighbors, sight- seei?s are inclined to ignore it, but archi- tects regard it with respect as the trail blazer of a wholly new approach to office-building design?one that, a doz- en or more years later, was given its most lucid and striking expression to date in the United Nations Secretariat and in Lever Ilouse, which was de- signed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. In 1932, after Todd had with some difficulty been persuaded that leading painters and sculptors should be brought in to decorate the Center, Harrison, who had advocated this step after stub- bing out many a postprandial cigar, was sent to Europe to line up first-rate artists there. Carl Mulles and 'Jose Maria Sert eventually came to New York and added their contributions to those of Lee Lawrie, Paul Manship, William Zor- ach, Diego Rivera, and other North American artists, but I Iarrison was un- able to work out any arrangement with Picasso, Despiau, Matisse, or Maillol. "There was always a conflict in sched- ules," he recalled recently. "We didn't have any trouble with the French artists about subject matter, since we were willing to leave that up to them. I re- member telling old Maillol?we wanted him to do a sculpture for the entrance to the Maison Franoise?that he would have absolutely free rein. 'I can do only one thing?a woman,' he said. 'How do you want me to do her?lying down or standing up?' " I IF offices of I I,arrison & Abramo-, vit./ are on the second floor of the International Building, in R ockefelle r Center, and its staff, which fluctuates in size according to the amount of work on the agenda, averages about sixty- five --a figure that includes forty or so draftsmen, who toil in a much part- tinned room the size of a couple of . basketball courts. The whole place is , . ? air-conditioned and soundproofed; the walls are brightly painted in blue, white, I gray, and orange; and, all in all, it is the sort of office that one would expect a successful firm of modern architects to Occupy. It is, however, a far cry from what Harrison was accustomed to up to last February, when he moved into it. During the year he operated as an independent, before the Harrison & Fouilhoux partnership was formed, his office consisted simply of a single, bare room on the fifty-second floor of the RU .A. Building, occupied by a skeleton staff of half a dozen draftsmen. One of the designers who whiled away his . time in this room was Harrison's present partner-1\4;1x Ahramovitz. A graduate of the University of Illinois School of Architecture, Ahramovitz spent his first two years in New York teaching elementary and advanced de- sign at the Columbia School of Archi- tecture. lie became associated with la rrison quite by accident. Around the time Ahramovitz came to New York, Harrison and some other estab- lished architects, including Ralph \\Talk- er, who designed the Irving Trust Company Building, at 1 Wall Street, and the New York Telephone Co im- pally Building:, on West Street, were conducting seminars at the New School of Social Research, each consisting of a group of three istudent-architects. At Walker's invitation, Abramiwitz signed up for Ins seminar, but through a cleri- cal error, he found himself in Har- rison's. He meant to change over to Walker's, hut somehow he never got around to it, and at the end of the course, he accepted his instructor's in- vitation to join the skimpy Harrison staff. "There we were, hanging around in that room on the fifty-second floor," Aiwa mu 'it'.'. recalled recently. "Wally was too busy at the Graybar Building to spend much time with us. \Ve drew up the plans for a couple of houses the firm was doing ill Bermuda, but that was the only real job we had. The rest of the time, we made work for ourselves-- or, rather, \\rally made it for us. Once, we spent eight months redesigning Cen- tral Park- -not because anyone had com- missioned the firm to do so but because Wally thought it would be a stimulating exercise. We started with the premise that Central Park was a traffic bottle- neck. Our problem was to figure out a scheme that would unplug it and still keep the greenery." Harrison felt that by paying the occupants of the lonely aerie regular wages for solutions to theo- retical problems of this sort he was hard- headedly investing in a future staff. "I wanted designers who would attack a problem by thinking about it in fresh terms," he says. "I wanted a staff that would keep moving away from the stereotype. After Fouilhoux and I formed our partnership, I found he felt as I did, and we carried on that way. I know some critics have said that because we never knew exactly where we were going, our office was weak. Maybe it was, and maybe it still is. That's the way we like it?no assembly-line meth- ods, I mean, no trademarks." In 1 935, Harrison and Fouilhoux moved their headquarters from the R.C.A. Building to a larger, though not much more formal or attractive, office on the eighth floor of the International Building. Here the firm ran a sort of in- ternational clubhouse, where visiting, Eunipean architects and kindred artists could always count on finding a chair :10(1 a drawing board waiting for them. Among those who availed themselves of this hospitality were Alvar Aalto, a Fin- nish architect and designer who has since done several important buildings in this country, including a dormitory for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the French abstractionist Fernand 1,(1.ger; Oscar Nitzchke, a Swiss archi- tectural designer; and Maurice Rotival, a French expert on city planning, whom Harrison brought over here to help teach a course in that subject that he had been asked to set up at the Yale School of Eine Arts. All this was in line with Harrison's ht-lief that the people in his fi nii should keep in touch with what was going on in other parts of the world and in the allied arts, and, to make his staff even more aware of new ideas and techniques, he invited two European painters? -Atm'd(1.e ( )zenfant and Wer- ner Drewes --to give a series of after- hours office lectures on form, attendance optional. As Harrison and his partner put Rockefeller Center further and further behind them, they began to branch Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 14 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-R 1W0136M4ROPPUOMNIVORKER out. During the years immediately pre- ceding the Second World War, they designed the Rockefeller Apartments, on West Fifty-fourth Street; the Theme Center for the New York World's Fair; the Avila Hotel, in Caracas, Ven- ezuela; and, with Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the architects of the Empire State Building, they drew up the plans for the new Hunter College building, on Park Avenue. The earliest of these projects, the Rockefeller Apartments, grew out of the esteem Harrison and Nelson Rockefeller had come to feel for each other during the construction of the Center, and was the first of many enterprises on which they worked together. The two men first met in 1926, around the time Harrison mar- ried Ellen Hunt Milton?making them brothers-in-law of a sort, for Mrs. Har- rison is the sister of David Milton, who was married at that time to Nelson's sister, Abby Rockefeller?but they saw little of each other until the Center was well under way. Rockefeller, who was a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, discovered at the Center's planning con- ferences that Harrison shared his enthu- siasm for modern art. "I came to admire a lot of other things Wally stood for, too, and the way he stood for them," Rocke- feller says. As time went on, Harrison and Rockefeller got in the habit of meet- ing once a week in midmorning or mid- afternoon in the Gateway Restaurant, to the rear of Prometheus in the Lower Plaza, and exchanging ideas over cof- fee and a bacon roll?two strips of bacon grilled on the halves of a soft roll, a Rockefeller favorite. The Rocke- feller Apartments was one of many ven- tures that originated at the sessions in the Gateway. The plot on which the apartment houses stand, on the north side of Fifty-fourth Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, was originally NOVEMDElb set aside by the Rockefellers to serve as one corner of a huge subsidiary Center, devoted to the arts, that would extend north from Rockefeller Center, covering the eastern half of the blocks from Fifty-first to Fifty-fifth Streets. The plan for this undertaking fell through when the Kriendler brothers, the proprietors of "21," declined to sell their building on Fifty-second Street. (Before the Rockefellers became rec- onciled to abandoning the project, they considered going ahead despite "21," running streets around the restaurant, and setting it off as an island?an ar- rangement that would certainly have given the holdout Kriendlers an ideal location, making their place a sort of Ile de In Cit, with the arts on one side of them and the Chase National on the other.) The Rockefeller Apartments, consisting of two twelve-story buildings separated by a spacious garden, were an audacious departure from the com- mon, or non-garden, approach to apart- ment-house design, which, seeking only to provide the maximum number of rentable rooms, used every legal inch of the plot for building. "The I cal- estate groups were really browned off by the Rockefeller Apartments," Ifer- man Axelrod, a New York builder, said recently. "Those two buildings changed the standards. 1Vith Rocke- feller and Harrison giving up fifteen per cent more space to light and air than they were required to, you can guess what happened. Before the build- ings were half finished, all the apart- ments had been leased and people were scrambling to get on the waiting list-- and, mind you, this was at a time when apartments all over the city were beg- ging for tenants." The I lotel Avila, which was not only the second collaboration between Nel- son Rockefeller and Ilarrison but Rockefeller's first .important sortie into inter-American affairs, was built on an old hacienda a few miles outside Ca- racas. Constructed of reinforced con- crete as a precaution against earth- quakes, the Avila was the forerunner of modern tropical hotels. It consists of a central lobby flanked by two long nar- row wings, each of them with an open gallery along one side and private bal- conies on the other; the rooms stretch the width of the wings, from gallery to balcony, and are equipped at both sides with sliding panels for cross-ven- tilation. JN 1936, Harrison's firm was chosen to design the Theme Center for the New York World's Fair on the basis of a competition open to all architects prac- ticing in the city. This competition, which was judged by the World's Fair hoard of design, made up of a dozen architects, engineers, and industrial de- signers, was a rather unusual one, in . that the designs submitted did not have to he descriptive of the building the candidate proposed putting up, hut might consist of no more than an ex- panded sketch of something that would give the judges an idea of the terms in which the competing firm was thinking about the Fair. Harrison & Fouilhoux entered the competition with a design for a tent. "We'd been ask- ing ourselves and everybody else in the office, 'What's most expressive of the atmosphere of a fair?' " Harrison says. "We had a designer working with us then named Oltar-jevsky, who was a very talented guy from Leningrad. We got him to tell us what the famous fair at Novgorod was like. Ile said they didn't have permanent buildings?just bilge canvas tents that were lighted at night with colored lanterns. That, we :agreed, was the essence of a fair --blow- ing tent tops and gay, lively colors. In- stead of colored lanterns, our tent had .a lot of colored balloons." After hav- ing been selected to do the Theme Center on the strength of this design, Harrison and Fouilhoux put aside the tent idea because they felt that it hard- ly suggested a therne, and began ex- ercising their imaginations in an effort 'to hit upon some architectural- con- .cept that would really stir the pub- and also symbolize the spirit of the I air. "One of die special functions of :irellitecture is to provide people with ,:??hance to see something they've nev- er seen before," Ilarrison has since said. "For its day, the Eiffel "rower, 1the focal structure of the Paris Ex- ,!position of 1889, was perfect. There'd never been anything like it. What's more, the visitors could go right up to the top of the tower. That was someth nig in I 889--man had never built that high above the earth before. lit. 1939, though, height meant noth- in,. Well, the theme of the Fair was 'The World of Tomorrow,' and the hist idea that struck me as a step in the right direction was to use a sphere, a complete sphere, as a major clement of the design. Ever since the dome was used by the Romans for the Pantheon, in the second century, architects had been trying- to expose a larger and kirger see meta 1)f it undercutting it more :anti more, until, in Persia and India, they succeeded in e \ posing 111111.1V per .0:111 of it. Why couldn't we If a total- Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 Iy exposed sphere? It had one merit, I the sphere in half, and if you put it at least?to my knowledge, it had never I behind, you'd get something that looked I been done before." Harrison and Fouil- I like one of those old German war hel- 1 houx and their assistants made hundreds wets with a spike on top. Then the board ! of sketches, experimenting with spheres objected that placing the trylon to one I of all sizes and combining them with side of the sphere threw the design off objects resembling Maypoles, spinning balance and that this was all wrong; tops, inverted obelisks, clover-leaf inter- miummental buildings were always ; sections, ellipses cutting across other symmetrical. Wally readied for our ellipses, and so on. Sometimes, IIarri- pile of photographs and calmly exhibited son thought of discarding the complete them, one after another- the Cathedral sphere, or perispherc, but he found him- of St. Mark's and the Campanile in Ven- self returning to it again and again, ice, the Cathedral and the Campanile in and filially concluded that it would Florence, the Cathedral in Padua, and ? be most effective combined with a three- several others. If that sold anybody, they sided obelisk, or trylon. After he and concealed it beautifully. There wassome his staff completed their one thousand- long-jawed hemming and hawing, and and-thirty-sixth sketch, he settled on a then ?Vally suddenly grabbed a cigar perisphere two hundred feet in diam- from his breast pocket, stood up, and eter, connected by a circular ramp with threw it angrily on the floor. I've never a seven-hundred-foot trylon, standing asked him, but I don't think he ever alongside. intended to smoke that cigar when he Then Harrison was faced with the put it in his pocket. I'm almost certain task of selling the idea of a trylon and he brought it along in case the meeting perisphere at a meeting of the board got bogged down to the point where ; of design. In addition to a clay model it violent gesture was needed to shake of the proposed structures, I Ia rrison everyone up. That's the only time I've and Walter 11. Killian), Jr., an archi- ever seen him go into an act, and it was tect who had worked closely with him an awfully effective One. The discussion on the design and who accompanied got right down to business, and pretty him on this crucial mission, took along soon Walter Dorwin Teague came to the meeting sonic twenty photo- out for the design. That broke the graphs of famous Italian buildings, all ice. One by one, the others dropped of them asymmetric in composition. their reservations, and the design was "Wally thought they might come in accepted." To save money, the Fair's luindy," Kilham recalled a while ago. board of estimate later reduced the "Ile figured that the board might not size of the trylon and perisphere by be very receptive to a design that didn't some twenti per cent. Harrison lets have a tower at each end, or in the always believed that the design would middle. Ile couldn't have been right- have hero far more effective in itsorig- il dimensions, but, ha% ing won his er.- First, the board wanted to know na ed di- main point, he settled hir the dimin- why the trylon hadn't been placed reedy in .front of the sphere or directly ished tr.) Ion and perisphere cheerfully behind it. Wally replied that if you enough. put the trylon in front, it would cut N the late nineteen-thirties, I larrison Ai found himself assot i;( iii more and liii)) I I requently a .1,rolli) of other (-omparativell oullv \c 'V Yorkers \vho had risen pi ecociously the top of their iu-of HMV turiiillp. their attention increas- ingl) to :immunity and national affairs. liesides Nelson Rot this oterie in) hided Itenton, Adolf \ Rom!, litit k- minster huller, liiliit t A. loses, and Folio I Icy NN,itli !he ap- proach of the Set (lid, it to appeal 1(1(?VIt:1111c 111.11 111(),(' tit it, 111('11111(.1s tvhii1 11111 Hut 111"('11(1\ 1.1,1.11 I- 1:11(.(1 1111" !1,11(111111(111 Si It Ri Wut11(1 tulill 1111 111 \ V;1',11111110111 sn(ili)r ,)1' 1:11TINI)11 I111-11(?(1 tiucte ulime, 1941 tell months cifer Rockefeller, Vl hi) 11.1(1 pi e?t ailed upon tlit?tilt administration to set up the Office of the Corirdinator of Inter-American Af- fairs and had then been asked to head It. Harrison joined the office as director of the Cultural Relations I)ivision and turned over the job of running the architectural firm to Fottilhoux and their new partner, Abramovitz. NVlien Harrison was shown the of- fice in the Commerce Building that he was to occupy, along with his assistant, J'eorge Dudley, a young member of the firm he took down to Washington with him, his first reaction was "Let's throw these desks out and get some drawing boards in here." By the time the draw- ? ing boards came, Harrison had made :a successful adjustment to the standard- '. model desk, hut otherwise Ile accepted little of the apparatus of bureaucracy. I Arriving at his office after a breakfast to the. accompaniment of a lesson in Spanish from a young Mexican mew- het' of his IVashington staff, he would swiftly dispose of the mound of paper that had accumulated in his "in" has- kit overnight by jotting down a few notes to himself :in whatever inter- - and intra-office memorandums he con- i.adered important, pencilling on a cor- ner of certain letters a laconic instruction to his secretary, such as "Say no polite- ly" or "Nlake appt.," and tossing the residue into it drawer. "If you ? stick this stuff in a drawer, it almost always takes care of itself," he once explained to a fellow-administrator. "And, that way, you have time to see people and get on with the' job." Even though 1 larrison and Dudley had adapted themselves to desks, they spent a great deal oil their time' in a chart room, where they built up a collection of maps and diagrams bearing on various aspects of the Central and South American ountrie.s, such as railroad lines, areas where yaws were endemic, locations of hrane hes of the Export-Import 13ank, and sites of strategic mineral deposits. "The mission of our office was to w ork out :I program that would improve the standard of living in the twin- It countries we were working with," )1idley says. "The charts proved in- to clarifying .duahle when it came our rt-:1111ti of data and pointing up the areas to conccntrate on?arellS ti lien:, if we improved living condi- tions by combatting uws, let's say, we :dso improve relations between the incri,as. In the chart room, lye hill! ii ill at i ill I fingertips." Since the pi :id octs it the 1 1 rrison- Dudley chart ooin C:Nil? and quit kIt ti rasped, kit iii i! was looked upon Is cssential Ill u Ii iii ui domitAries who i:orie Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 nip NEW YORKeroved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 here to get tilled in on what was happen- ing south of the border. In December, 1944, when Rockefel- ler was appointed Assistant Secretary of State in charge of -relations with other American republics, Harrison moved up to Deputy Coiirdinator of the Office of Inter-American Affairs, as the agency had been more simply renamed, and later he became Coiirdinator. Ile found the work fascinating, and threw himself into it with a conscientiousness that made some of his fellow-bureaucrats smile. Once, on a trip to Caracas, after he had spent a morning being taken on a tour of the city by a ranking government official, he met a labor-union leader at lunch whom he persuaded to take him on a second tour of the city, so that he could get the other side of the picture. "On the whole, I think our Latin- American program was damn success- ful," Harrison says. "The Act of Cha- pultepec, which the nations of North, Central, and South America signed. in 1946, is one of the best defense pacts in existence today. Nelson took several of us down to Mexico City for the signing, and it gave us all a terrific feeling of 'ac- complishment. Government work can he dull as the devil, and frustrating, but there were stretches during the four and a half years I spent in 'Washington when I've never been more engrossed in my work, or happier. As a matter of fact, there were days at a time when things were humming along so nicely I never even gave a thought to archi- tecture."--1 I ER BERT WARREN WIND (This is the second of three articles on Mr. Harrison.) ? NEW YORK, Oct. 16 (AP)?Mrs. Mag- dalena Marsili, of Rockford, Ill., sailed today on the S.S. Constitution, for Rome. She will attend the beautification of a younger sister .. . ?Chicago American. It's a long way to go. ? She was graduated from Huntington High School and has been employed as A secretary in New York City. Her hus- band is a buyer for a Philadelphia Dept. Store and deserved four years in the U. S. Air Force.?The Long Islander. Maybe it's not too late. LETTERS WE NEVER FINISHED READING FAULTLESS LAUNDRY KANSAS CITY 8, Mo. DEAR SIR: You never before have had a letter from a Shirt, have you? 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A tall, rugged, Roman-faced man who grew up ill Massachusetts and is endowed with one of that region's traditional traits, a ponderous con- science, Ilarrison finds his thoughts travelling irresistibly across town from his office, in Rockefeller Center, to the East River and the United Nations buildings- -specifically, to the Secretar- iat, the thirty-nine-story slab whose broad sides are uninterrupted walls of glass. "I don't know what I could have been thinking of ?a building with all that glass on such an exposed site!" he exclaimed one recent windy morning to a group of his associates in the firm of Harrison .& Abramovitz. "Boy, those windows take a beating! I know as well as the next guy that the gustiest winds we get in New York are south- easters. And I know that the East River is a perfect highway for them, and they sweep right up it unimpeded. I knew all these things when we were working on the Secretariat, and still, somehow, I didn't do any about it. Well, our experts tell its the windows are perfect now, and that helps, hut putting them in in the first place was hardly a stroke of brilliance." Coming from the archi- tect who is customarily regarded as the most influential American practitioner of his generation, such a declaration of . personal fallibility amounts to outright eccentricity nowadays, when it has be- come standard operating procedure for prominent architects to revaluate their earlier buildings as more impecca- ble, more epochal, than even they con- ceded at the time they designed them. "Actually, it's ridiculous to compare Wally Harrison with the geniuses of our profession," the British architect How- ard Robertson, who was a member of the international board of design that planned the United Nations headquar- ters under Harrison's leadership, said not long ago. "Wally is an entirely dif- ferent breed of animal from Frank Lloyd Wright or Le Corbusier. They're pure artists, great revolutionaries. Wal- 'S a 111:111 pit I feSS11111 is architec- ture. There's a true strain of the dream- er and the poet and the artist in him, hut his visions are always tempered by a realistic appreciation of the conditions he's operating- under on any particular joh- -the money that's available, the men he's working with, the time factor. lie's a far rarer t? pe than a genius, and in our world, such :is it is today, he's at least as valuable. lie can get dif- ficult jobs done. I suspect that if the task of building the U.N. had been placed io the hands of any of the sev- eral architects who felt that the com- mission should liave been theirs by oli- vine right, the U.N. delegates would still be leading a highly nomadic ex- istence." People who have known Harrison ever since he first came to New York, III 1916, are inclined to feel that his ability to combine dreaming, with get- ting things done may he attributed to the extreme vicissitudes of his earlier days, which were marked by a pro- longed stretch (of joyless grubbing that gave him ample time to muse about things as they might be, ;ind was fol- lowed by a swift rise to a position of responsibility in the world of affairs. Unlike most of his colleagues, who made architecture their career because it appealed to them as a means of using their creative gifts to benefit the com- munity, Harrison stumbled into archi- tecture by accident when, at the age of fourteen, he found himself obliged to support himself and took the first job he could get, which happened to be that of office boy for a construction company in his home town of Worcester. This job gradually led to drafting, and aroused his interest in architectural mat- ters generally. In all, Harrison strug- gled along through seventeen lean years, interrupted only by a bitch in the Navy during the First World \\Tar and a couple of spells in Paris as a rather overage student at the Ecole Nationale Supi.rieure des Beaux-Arts, before he broke into the big time as a partner in an architectural firtn headed by Harvey Wiley Corbett?a connection that shortly afterward gave him the oppor- tunity to help design Rockefeller Cen- ter. When ilarrison hulks back on the long and painful apprenticeship that pre- ceded his arrival?something he does no 5 5 "a//erce I /lliTipiii more ut ten than necessary- he feels sure that it accounts for the skepticism with which he now listens to some (of his fellow-architects as the loftily insist that a modern building should have no connection with the past, or that it should be a machine fom livihl, (or that it should be a symbol of its own func- tion. "I consider myself a modern architect, but a fellow like me, who has gone through the null, never goes in for complete and uninhibited revolt," he says. "When you leave your draw- ing board and start getting your hands dirty, you stop thinking- of buildings as a challenge to your ability to create absolute art. You're happy to settle for good buildings that get built, in the hope that they'll lead to progressively better buildings." Harrison spent tell years working on Rockefeller Center, and in the course of that extended meeting of strong minds and hard currency he developed from a talented young designer into a mature architect. At the same tune, a friendship that has had a marked bearing on his career ever since grew up between him and Nelson Rockefeller, who in 1938 became president of Rockefeller Center, Inc., and, like Harrison, is a man with a strong catalytic gift. As the thirties advanced and the world situation grew increasingly grave, these two men shared the concern of many others about the apparent inevitability of war in Europe and the possibility that such a war might spread across the Atlantic. Rockefeller, wh(o knew Latin America well, was especially fearful about the South American re- publics; since the United States had been paying little attention to them for years, he felt that they might well fall to the totalitarian,. In default unless this coon- Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 5.6 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 try adopted a new and vigorous hem- ispheric policy. With the assistance of Harrison, Beardsley Ruml, and other informed friends, Rockefeller drew up an exhaustive memorandum un the sub- ject and turned it over to Harry 1 I _ kills, who brought it to the attention of President Roosevelt. Impressed, the President at once created a special gov- ernment agency called the Oflice of the Coiirdinator of Inter-American Affairs, and in August, 1940, appointed Rockefeller to head it. Rockefeller sug- gested to Harrison that he drop every- thing and join him in Washington, hut this proved impossible just then, what with the commitments of lIarrison's firm ?Harrison, fouilhoux & Abramo- vitz?and a project lie was working on with Rockefeller's brother Laurance and the Navy to save steel by building ships of concrete. Tlw following juin., however, I larrison turned tile firm over to his two partners Andre' Fouilhoux and Max Abrarnovitz - and joined Rockefeller's agency as Assistant Co- ordinator in charge of its Cultural Re- lations Division. He subsequently be- came the Deputy Coiirdinatur, and in March, 1945, after Rockefeller was transferred to the State Departtnent, took over the job of Coordinator. WE N. AR in mind and thin in wallet :ifter nearly five years of govern- ment service, I larrison returned to New York and architecture in April, 1946. IU found his firm in bad shape. Not long after I larrison had gone to NA'ashington, Abramovitz, who was regarded by his partners as an enormously skillful de- signer, had joined the Air Force, and had spent two years on General Chen- nault's stall, building airfields in China. Vouillunix carried on alone as best he could until shortly before the end of the war, when he was killed by a fall from the roof of a housing project the firm was putting up in Brooklyn. "Ile'd been terribly overworked and under a great strain for a long, long time," I tar- 115011 told a friend recently. "I le was a \vonderful guy, Fouilhou - -and a superb architect. We'd been partners since 1935." Ilarrison and Abramovitz, who was released by the Air Voice early in 1946, set ahout vorganizing the firm, and before long they had all the business they could handle. Their first spectacular postwar commission okly "I ccish 1 hail my life tH tr-ver. Believe me, I'd pick it iliffereiii lawyer!" was to draw up plans for X City, the city-within-a-city that XVilliam Zeck- endorf, then executive vice-president of the real-estate broke-rage firm of Webb & Knapp, was thinking of putting up on approximately the Salllt? Site :is that now occupied by the United Na- tions. Soon, however, Harrison found that he wasn't happy simply devoting himself to business as usual. "The bat- tles were Over, but the struggle was . just as intense," he says. "NV-e couldn't suddenlv drop countries we'd been help- ing during the war anti tell them to shift for themselves. There was a lot of work to be done, and among the many things we had learned while we were running the South :\inerican of- fice was that you don't build a stable world just with propaganda and ban- quets." As staunch believers in the United Nations, which had voted to make its permanent headquarters some- where in the United States and was weighing the advantages of various sites, Rockefeller and Harrison were delighted to accept appointments to a Committee of Plan and Scope that May or O'Dwyer had organized, with Robert Moses at its head, to present the case for New York C'ity. The United Nations Permanent Headquar- ters Comtnittee--a liody appointed in January, 1946, and consisting of one representative from each of the member countries had specified that it must have a site of at least two thousand acres (it later disco-tied this require- ment ), and tilt only available' city- owned area that size was in Flushing Nleadow, a practically subaqueous tract xvhose shortcomings were obvious to everybody-. Rockefeller and Harrison, both of whom I eh that the cosmopolitan Spirit of Ni'.' York and its exceptional communications facilities made it the natural home tor the U. N., prepared a one-reel mii\ it showing how the city planned to refurbish the Meadow if the 1. 'lined Nations would agree to settle there, hilt it faded to stir the members of the Permanent I leadquarters Commit- tee; durin:2, their tours of duty out there at Lake Success, then the U.N.'s tem- porary' headquarters, they had had their fill of the reHon's subtle swampland aroma, and wanted no more (il it, with or without improvements. By De- cember, 1946, the Permanent Head- quarters Committee, under the chair- manship of Dr. Eduardo Zuleta .Angel, it Colombia, had finished inspecting i it various other sites that had been offered to the organization, and had iist made up its inind to take. a ten-square-mde one in soburban Hula- Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 Approved For Release delphia. The Australian delegation and quite a few others representing coun- tries in the Pacific area favored San Francisco, but the important European deleg,ations, Russia among them, were dead set against the West Coast. As for the East Coast, an early preference for Connecticut's Fairfield County cooled off after several members of the Perma- nent I leadquarters Committee had been stoned by the local inhabitants during an inspection trip there, and Boston's hest offer wasn't in the same leafy league with the spacious tract that Phila- delphia was prepared to make available. On the morning of Sunday, Decent- her 8th, Nelson Rockefeller, who was Ill Alexicu City for the inauguration of President Miguel Aleman, received a joint telephone call from I farrison and ['rank .1amieson, a former Pulitzer Prize-will ing newspaperman . who handles the Rockefeller family's rela- tions with the press and the public. They were calling to inform him of the Phila- delphia threat and of the need for im- mediate action if he still had any hopes for New York. Rockefeller, who did in- dee(l still have hopes for New York, ar- rived at LaGuardia Field around six that evening and was met by I larrison and Clark Fichelberger, another mem- ber. of the Mayor's committee. The three men were driven directly to the United Nations' temporary headquar- ters at Lake Success, where, after being held up at the gates for an hour while the guards checked to see if they were who they claimed to be, they had a talk with Secretary-General Trygve Lie, 1)r. Zuleta Angel, and Senator \Vat.- ren Austin, the head of the American delegation to the U.N. Rockefeller asked them whether they thought the members .of the Headquarters Com- mittee might still consider settling in or around New York. Senator Austin said that he thought the minds of the delegates were still open, but that, :Is far as New York went, while they would not be averse to the coun- tryside around the city, they would prefer a site in it, such as the X City plot, which Zeckendorf had not long before attempted to sell tothe municipal authorities as a possible location for the headquarters. 'rile important thing to bear in mind, Dr. Zuleta Angel put in, was that the Committee was scheduled to convene on Wednesday morning and reach a final decision then. In short, Rockefeller had two and a half days. Riwkefeller spent Monday think- in!, and conferring in his New York vifty_sixth floor of the oflice, on the R.C.A. Building. Ile reached one con- 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 sumahlv had in mind a rankling experi- ence in the twenties, when he gave the League of Nations two million dollars for a library in Geneva and was held up for a gift tax of more than a third of a million by the United States gov- ernment --a bite that rather took the joy oiut of his philanthropy.) After the initial wave of exultation had subsided, Nelson and his cohorts deployed for action. Before the sepa- rate clearances with the city, county, state, and federal governments could be tackled, one piece of business, on which everything else hinged, had to be taken care of: An option had to be obtained on the river site, which consisted of sev- enteen acres between Forty-second and Forty-eighth Streets, and First Avenue and the East River, from leckendorrs firm of N'Vebb & Knapp. Harrison was nominated for the job. Ile was the log- ical candidate, for he knew all about the site from having worked on it at the time Zeckendort was planning to build X City there. The first step, therefore, was to find '/,e kendorf. After an hour of putting in phone calls to various likely pia( es, Harrison finally traced him to the Monte Carlo, a night club on the northeast corner of Nladison Avenue and Fifty-fourth Street that was one of the odder properties controlled by NVebb Si Knapp. Zeckendorf told Harrison to come on over. It was ten o'clock when Harrison arrived at the Nlonte Carlo, the pocket of his jacket bulging with a block-by- bhick map of the site. "I tried to assume an air of nonchalance, but I couldn't make it," Harrison recalls. "Did you ever see that Disney movie called `Salu- (his Amigos'- - the part where Donald I )iick gets stuck high up in the Altiplano of the Andes? The air is so thin that I )imald's heart is shown plunging a foot and a half out of his body every time it beats. Well, my heart was thumping just like that." I larrison found Zecken- (hid in a private dining room at the rear id the club, attending :I gala birthday party that was being given for otw of his partners, I hairy Sears. harrison and kvndorf adjourned to the chili's private office. "You know that site on the river?" remembers saying, without ant warmup whatsoever. "I want you to give me an option on it for the U.N." "Li it for the U.N.?" Zeckendorf asked. "Yrs, it's for the U.N., and for m idling else," larrison replied. "I'm not committing myself any further--about who I'm representing, or anything." "O.K.," Zet-kendorf said, without elusion--X City was out; it would un- doubtedly be too expensive for him to swing alone. The most likelv alterna- tive, he decided, was Pocantico Hills, back of Tarrytown, where he, his fa- ther, and his four brothers all had homes, and on Tuesday morning he launched an eleventh-hour drive to round tip enough land for a site there. Ile outlined his plan to his father at lunch, and to his brothers during the afternoon, and in every case he told them of Senator Austin's appraisal of the delegates' taste in the matter of an urban versus a suburban site, but added Ills belief that the Pocantico I tills area was worth at least a vCIV good try. Each of the Rockefellers volunteered to give up a considerable portion of his individual holdings at Pocantico Hills, for a total of a thousand acres. Then, spreading out large-scale maps of the region on the cocoa-colored carpet of his office, Nelson hurriedly negotiated through his Westchester real-estate broker for options on two thousand acres adjoining the Rt ii' Iii le IS' properties, which would bring the complete parcel to three thousand acres. Ile now needed only to borrow a million dollars front his father for the purchase of the land cov- ered by the options in order to wrap up the whole shebang. At the end of the day, Nelson called Austin to inform him that he had pretty well succeeded in acquiring a site in Westchester, but to Ins dismay, the Senator replied that he now thought the members of the Head- quarters Committee would not be in- terested in any New York site that was not actually in the city. Gloomily, Nel- son teleplumed his father at seven o'clock on Tuesday evening, surrounded by an agitated group consisting of Harrison, Jamieson, Mrs. Louise Boyer, who is Nelson's assistant, and John Lockwood, one of the family's lawyers. Nelson told John D., Jr., how things stood, and then, as he listened to his father's com- ments, his face broke into a smile of astonished rapture. "Why, Pa!" he ex- claimed. Cupping his hand over the mouthpiece, Nelson told the group around him, in a sort of whispered yodel, "Ile wants to know how much that site along the Fast River would cost! Ile wants to give it to them! ... Wally, how much do von think it would take to get it ?" Eight or eight and a half million, Harrison guessed. Upon receiving this information, Rockefeller p;Te informed Rockefeller fiLi that if the river plot could be purchased, he was prepared to donate it to the United Nations, on one condition that the United States waive the federal gift tax. ( .1ohn I)., Jr., pre- Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 THE NEW YORKproved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 & liesitatittn. "I'll give you an option on it for eight and a half million." Harrison said that this would be satisfactory, at which Zeckendorf, after consulting briefly with Sears, stretched Harrison's map out on the desk and, after outlining the six blocks involved in the site with his pen, wrote at the top: $8,500,000 East side of 1st Ave., 42nd to 43rd?Sq. Block 43-44 44-45 1st Ave. to East River -I Sq. Block 46-47 NE Cur. 47 and 1st Ave. 100 X 100 North Side 47th at Consolidated Garage $8,500,- 000, to United Nations only. On a side margin of the map he wrote an additional note: "$8,5 0 0,0 0 0 to U.N. Dec. 10 for 30 days," and then both he and Sears signed their names. . Suppressing an impulse to grab the telephone on the desk and report the good news then and there to the group that was sweating it out in Nelson Rockefeller's office, Harrison tucked the map back in his pocket and walked out into the December night and over to the St. Regis Hotel, where he dialled his associates from a pay station in the lobby. "Nelson told me to pick up a bottle of champagne," he recalls. "He said a celebration was in order. \Veil, I fished in my pockets when I got out of the booth and found I had only a dollar and eleven cents on me. That struck me as funny as hell. Here's a guy who's just closed a deal for eight and a half million dollars and he hasn't got enough dough to buy a dozen bottles of Moxie." In the end, the party got its cham- pagne?two _quarts of it?by sending out to "21." They polished off a quart (the other is still aging commemora- tively in a pantry adjacent to Rocke- feller's office) and then got down to business again. In one corner of the room, Lockwood, the lawyer, studied Zeckendorf's scrawled notations on the map and, after an hour's pondering, solemnly declared that he thought it would hold up as a valid option. In the meantime?it had become Wednes- day by then?a number of telephone calls were put through. One was to Robert Moses, who agreed to see Mayor O'Dwyer the first thing that morning about getting the city to cede its rights to the streets, the river bulkheads, and various strips of land it controlled within the site. Anoiher call was to Senator Austin, who was staying at the Pennsylvania Hotel, now the Statler. Austin is not particularly noted as a man of rapid action, hut on this occasion he performed like an Ohio State scat- back. He called Washington, awakened the general counsel of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and obtained his substantial opinion that the government would exempt John D., Jr., from pay- ing a gift tax if the United Nations ac- cepted his offer. Later that morning, at about eight, while Moses was on his way to see Nlayor O'Dwyer and Lock- wood was calling Albany to negotiate clearances with the state authorities, Nelson Rockefeller--after breakfasting With his father?picked tip Harrison and they went up to the Harkness Pa- vilion of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, where 1)r. Zuleta Angel, who was in poor health, had spent the night. They informed him of their last-minute entry in the competi- tion, At a meeting of the Headquarters Committee at Lake Success at ten o'clock that Wednesday morning, Dr. Meta Angel recognized Senator Aus- tin, and the Senator made a dramatic announcement of the Rockefeller offer. Before adjourning, in a Hurry of excite- ment, the I leadquarters Committee instructed a subcommittee to inspect the land in question that afternoon. The next morning, following an enthusiastic report by the subcommittee, the Head- quarters Committee voted, thirty-three to seven, to draft a resolution recom- mending that the General Assembly, then in session, accept the gift. Two days later, on Saturday, December 1 4th, the General Assembly voted, forty-six to seven, to adopt the resolution. "When it was all over, and we had won, I think we saw for the first time why we'd been successful," Harrison says. "It was very simple, really. The delegates had want- ed New York all along." QOME three weeks later, on Jan- uary 2, 1947, Secretary-General Lie appointed Harrison director of plan- ning for the United Nations Permanent Headquarters. "Harrison was only one of a number of architects who were un- der consideration," a veteran United Nations official stated recently. "There was some talk at the time that he went with the deal?that he was given the appointment because of his connection with the Rockefellers. That isn't so. The Secretary-General solicited recom- mendations from many sources. He de- cided on the basis of these recommen- dations that Harrison was the architect best qualified for the post. Harrison knew a great deal about the site, he was well versed in the special problems of building in New York, and he had had experience working with governmental officials and with men from foreign h I ountrie,:. In fact, lit'was uniquel qualified." Harrison and I ac got together in mid- Januar\ for the first of innumer- able turetin!rs they were to hold during the neark six years it took to design and build the. headquarters. Routine matters, such as the chain of command (I fart-ism] would report directly to Lie or to Byron Price, an Assistant Secre- tary-(_ieneral ) and I la rrison's sa la ry (the same as that of the head of any large department of the U.N. -twelve ' thousand dollars it year, plus another six thousand to help out on income taxes), were quickly disposed of. Then came the delicate matter of how to select the. architects who would design the buildings, and in this Harrison and : Lie were guided by the knowledge '? that the old League of Nations had got off to a woe fully bad start when, in ; seeking a design for its Geneva head- quarters, it held a competition open to architects from all its member coon- tries, failed to reach a clear-cut decision as to the winner, and, in the course of seven years of wrangling,, managed to a.ffront individuals and nations alike in wholesale lots before it at last erected a building that no one was happy about. - "Lie and I tried to make the machinery , as simple and foolproof as possible," larrison says. "We decided we'd have an international board of design that would collaborate on drawing up plans. for the headquarters buildings. First off, we sent notices to all the member coun- tries of the U.N., inviting them to nomi- nate architects to serve on the board. In a few cases- --like Soilleux, from Australia, I remember, and Liang, from China?when we felt we didn't know enough about the men who were nominated, we asked them to submit samples of their work. Then the goes- tion was how many members the board. should have. We finally figured that! we'd need about tun, to take care of ' all the areas that we thought ought to. be represented?somebody from West- ern Europe, somebody from Eastern.: Europe, somebody from Scandinavia, at least one from the British Common- wealth, one from South America, one from the Far East, and so on. We picked the members of the board partly for their talent and partly for geo- graphical and political considerations. We couldn't pick Alvar Aalto, who's a wonderful architect, because Finland wasn't a member of the U.N. We had to pass up Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, because they were too closely identified with prewar Germany. The sixty-four-dollar question was whether Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-R0P80B01676R004100060048-1 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 oI not we should pick Lc Corbusier. When you have to deal with matters of opinion and problems of personality? and, you may be sure, l,e Corbusier is a man who can contribute plenty of both it complicates the job. A good many people strongly advised against having him. On thy other hand, there were some good reasons why We shouid IlaVe him he was a great architect, of course, and besides he'd been given such a dirty deal in that League of Nations competition when his plan, although it was the choice of the majority of the judges, was finally thrown out on the absurd technicality that it had been drawn up with the wrong kind of ink. When all was said and done, we decided w;ts better in than out." In ad- dition to Le Corbusier, who, of course, represented France, the hoard was made up of G. A. Soilleux, of Australia; Gas- ton Brunfaut, of Belgium; Oscar Nie- meyer, of Brazil; Ernest Cormier, of Canada; Su-ch'eng Liang, of China; Sven Markelius, of Sweden; N. D. Bas- sos', of Russia; Howard Robertson, of Great Britain; and Julio Vilamayt, of Uruguay. To supplement this group, seven special consultants were later added: Josef Ilavlii?ek, of Czechoslo- vakia; Vladimir Bodiansky, of France; .fohn Antoniades, of Greece; Matthew Nowicki, of Poland; Peter Noskov, of Russia; Hugh Ferriss, of the United States; and Ernest Weissmann, of Yugoslavia. "Two-thirds of the board turned out to he marvellous architects," Harrisim says. "The other third were gthH1 architeCtS." The first of the architects arrived in New York in early March?Robertson, a methodical-minded, well-tailored Londoner with a solid air of affability; Ling, who was an archeologist at heart and was overwhelmed by the newness of New York; Bassov, a stocky, middle-aged Russian engineer-archi- tect, who had made his reputation during the war, when he was en- trusted with relocating his nation's heavy industry cast of the Urals; and Le Corbusier, crisp, high-pitched, and garrulous as a blue jay, his lean face dominated by thick-bowed, heavy- lensed spectacles?and the others trick- led in, one at a time, during the next three or four weeks. Meanwhile, a group of architects from Harrison's of- fice, headed by Harmon Goldstone, Abel Sorensen, and George Dudley, had started developing a "program," which is what architects call the documented study they make to determine the space and facilities a proposed building will need in order to fulfill its specified func- tiolls. I 1:11"rison's 11Thil Intel vietvcd dot.- ol Set VIA:Uri:it ollikials ;111d 1111:1111)crs HI 111c (;t'llerd ?\s,e1111,11 :Ind ihun ,:"11- Vel-ted LIlti Miss 111 1111111ln:1U( )11 1111.1 I :11'(1111.(CI.111-:11 1:1(1S :111(1 flg 11 \- :11111)1r, estil11:Lting 111:t1 111 t flU :ts 111:1111 :is 1,21)5 it ply Might he (111111M ed ill tile V:11"tous iIiiciii. :ilid the Secrt1:16:11, they c1111e to tile Coll- th:it the kidding to hou,e it quiru 43(),S(1; sqllare 'cut id office siyuc, le litect- iii!* rooms, :111d 1,4-81i square feet lin- "01 hut- strvik us." progrant, printed in English And French, made t'very- thing as plain as da% (vinyl an architect's point of vicsv, and II arr.son saN s he be- lieves it helped ptit ever\ body in a hope- ful frame til mind. In ans event, the members of the board were in :t Loti- spictiotisly amiable rnootl sylien they be- gait em-Itan'ring ideas at their first regu- lar met ling, held earls ill April in the Headquarters Planning ()Ake, svhich I la rrison had set up oil the twenty- seventh floor of the R.K.(). Harrison picked this mi4.1town location because he thought it would be a good plan for the board to be physically sepa- rated front the other it..tivities of the United Nations, at Lake Success, and therefore lesS eXpoSed to any possible oblique political pressures. After studying the prograrn, the board %mud unanimousls In Let or of putting up three buildings- one for the (;eneral Assets-1111w, one to house the Set:- ;Old one for (-miff:rent:es of the various councils and committees. From the beginning, the Secretariat Building was visualized by practically everyltods as a skyscraper, since no smaller struc- ture could provide the needed office space and still leave enough room on the site for walks, grass, and trees. 'Elie antiability of the visiting architects increased as they contemplated this olwitms need for at least one sky- scraper, SIMI:, as dill' were not reluc- tant to admit, they had coine to New York with the 1101)e oi getting a crack at designing a real American cloud- buster?an opportunity none of them had ever had back home, and quite pos- sibly never would have. To familiarize them with the problems of building sky- scrapers, Harrison appointed six Ameri- can engineers and three American architects to serve as technical con- . sultants. However, since these consul- tants popped in only when they were asked to and since few of the board members had been able to arrange to stay in New York for more than two or three weeks at a time- --incoming architects were always humping into outgoing OM'S at Idlewild --the group that collected each morning in the plan- ning office usually was small, averaging, perhaps, eight or nine men. Their work- room was an orthodox office, about forty feet by thirty, with four cubby- holes along one wall, to which members could repait whenever they wanted a little privacy. The board met around a table in the center of the room?it nearly always held plasticine models of various projected deigns--and traded their views in a mixture of French and English. All of them except Bassos' could speak at least one of these lan- guages. Since no one else spoke Russian, Bassov did the best lw could with an in- terpreter and what little English he was able to pick up as he went along. When he liked an idea, he said so with a brusque "Okay;" when he didn't, his response was an explosive "Nokay." At lunch- time, the members took turns escorting their colleagues to restaurants that spe- cialized in their native cooking. "Brun- faut, the Belgian, preferred to eat at the Brussels," Harrison recalls. "He knew the proprietor. And Ilavliek took us all to Liichow's when a new kind of Czechoslovakian :leer came in. Mostly, though, they dug up w,,nderful little spots I'd never even he:,rd of in all the years I'd spent in New York. I've never eaten better." The afternoons had no set pattern; some of the members ram- bled about the city studying skyscrapers at first hand, some went to their hotel rooms to work in private, and others returned to the planning office and ; worked there. In the evenings, most of the members visited with countrymen of theirs or went out on the town. Under no circumstances were the , members at any time permitted to enter the drafting room, which was next door to their workroom. The drafting room, where the rough sketches that were ap- proved by the hoard were translated into working designs, was mantled by a staff ? of draftsmen, designers, and modellers under the direction of Abramovitz, who Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80B01676R004100060048-1 Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP806016761W1M0-4KER had been made Harrison's deputy di- rector of planning. "It's never a picnic when several creative minds are brought together to work on one project," Abramovitz says. "The rivalry for in- dividual credit is always hovering over things. It can be ruinous. We were determined that the U.N. was going to represent an authentic group effort. That was the reason Wally declarea the drafting room out-of-bounds?to pre- vent any member from getting his own idea drawn up into one of the plans be- fore the rest of the members had a chance to pass on it. All ideas went into one common pot. All sketches were un- signed. That way, everything that was sent to the drafting room came from the group as a whole." During the first two months, the board of design chugged along at a steady clip. "It was an exhilarating ex- perience," Robertson, the British mem- ber, has since said. "When we started, each of us had his own pet idea of what the whole project or some part of it should look like. Liang proposed that the Secretariat be built on an axis run- ning due east and west. The important buildings in China had always been built that way, he told us. It insured good luck. Liang also thought the entire site should be enclosed by a wall. Antoni- ades couldn't sec any virtue in a wall. He preferred a continuous colonnade. You see, a good many of our concepts were quite atavistic. I was the court- yard fiend, which was proper for an Englishman, I suppose. Cormier, the Canadian, was for the conservative, solid, Anglo-French approach. And Le Corbusier, of course, was for Le Corbusier. He wanted the headquar- ters group to be one gigantic terraced block raised on stilts, or pi/otis? Corbu's trademark. Bassov detested stilts. 'Chicken legs!' he'd snort. 'No- kay The design he had in mind was something like that of a power plant. That's how it went. But all of us gradu- ally subdued our personal vanities and gave up the preconceived visions we'd come with, and as the project took shape the feeling of group unity grew. This was very noticeable to me. I went back to England for a couple of weeks, and when I returned I found the members of the hoard had knitted to- gether into a sort of architectural jury. Each individual was still expected to express himself without reservation, but he was also expected to abide by the groumerdict, and not go into any tan- trums. Harrison was what you might call the foreman of the jury. The im- portant thing to bear in mind is that Wally Harrison never submitted a de- sign of his own. That's what made Wally's position so strong." In late April, a mild crisis occurred. Some of the delegates, with 1,c Cor- busier as their self-appointed spokesman, favored having all the lounges and the committee and council rooms in the Conference Building on one floor, while the rest favored having them on two floors, one right above the other, to make everything more compact. The ? debate reached its climax when Le Cor- busier read a prepared statement con- sisting of thirty-six points. A number of these supported his single-level thesis, hut some of the members found others weirdly irrelevant, such as Point 6: "I was sent by the French to defend the ideas of modern architecture and am responsible to the world at large for (a) undisputed function and (b) cer- tain beauty," and Point 3 I : "Architec- tural splendor comes from the great books." In essence, Le Corhusier's statement amounted to a request for a vote on the two schemes. Harrison an- ? swered it at the next meeting. "There can be a decision by a vote, or I can make the decision," he told the Mem- bers. "I have explained the difficulty of a vote: After a vote, you have the winners and the losers. If I make the decision, I am the only loser." He then recommended further study of the ' problem, but when the stalemate con- . tinued and there seemed no other solu- tion, he ruled in favor of the two-level scheme, on the ground. that while it was a little less beautiful, it would provide a little more convenience. It was the only time that Harrison ever exercised the final authority that was his as chair- man of the hoard. This brief squall over, the members quickly pushed ahead again, and in mid- May, less than three months after the start of the deliberation, a final plan was unanimously agreed upon?a feat of collaborative international design comparable to the four-minute mile. The plan was then presented to the Headquarters Advisory Committee of the General Assembly which unani- mously approved it on May 21st. In November, the General Assembly for- mally accepted the plan, and excavation of the site was started on September 14, 1948. Perhaps the most significant, or at any rate the most exuberant, footnote to the life and tunes of the board of de- sign was a five-hundred-word state- ment, entitled "A Declaration," that Le Corbusier released to the press shortly before it was dishamled. "A wonderful result has been achieved and one that is worth noting: we are all of the same opinion," it read, in part. "To those outside who question IN we can reply: we are united, we are a team, the World Tram of the United Nations laying dovvn the. plans of world architec- tiffe.... IVe are a homogeneous block. There are no Ila riles attached to this work.... Each of us can be legitimate- ly proud of having been called upon to work in this team, and that should be sufficient for us," It it-as sufficient for Le Corbusier for a time, but a year later, with his rambunctiiius ego once again in the ascendant, he began-claim- ing credit for the whole plan, and was miffed when officials of the United Na- tions would not arrange a press con- ference at which he. could elaborate on this theme. lie had, however, in the (pinion of his colleagues on the hoard, made a considerable contribution, of which, in his own words, he could be legitimately proud. ON the southwestern corner of the United Nations site, near the junction of First Avenue aml Forty- second Street, ,there stood, and still stands, a six-story concrete building of no particular architectural distinction that was nearing completion at the time the U.N. acquired the site and was orig- inally in to provide office space for the New York City Housing Au- thority. During their deliberations in the spring of 1 947, the members of the hoard of design briefly discussed the question of whether to raze this brand- new building, which would have to be bought from the city in any event,_ or try to work it into the scheme of things as best they could. They ended up by tossing the problem into flarrison's lap. I lis decision was to keep it. Nowadays, if the subject of this stepchild, which is currently serving as the United Nations library, happens to come up, Harrison is likely to frown and to confess that he has concluded it was a mistake to leave the building standing; he considers it a jarring note in the otherwise architec- turally harmonious headquarters. Actu- ally, at the time Harrison decided not to raze the building, he could hardly have decided otherwise, for the. problem arose just when Secretary-General Lie was diligently paring his proposed budget for the headquarters, in an e 'fort to per- suade Congress to lend the U.N. the money to build it. In the course of three fruitless months of tri Mg to round up funds, during which he had been turned down cold by the International Hank, Lie had already appealed once to Congress for eighty-five million Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 DEcApitveyWcfftslcase 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601678R004100060048-1 dollars?and had met with no success; now he was asking for only sixty-five million, and on August llth, Congress granted the loan. The U.N. had to pay the City of New York about a million and a hall for the Housing Authority Building, and Harrison felt that the ad- ditional- money that would be needed to tear it down could be better spent'else- where. The building served for some time as a base of operations for the Headquarters Planning Office and, aS Ilarrison frequently points out, what- ever its architectural shortcomings, it was ideal for this purpose, since it was not only right on the site but, unlike any other available building that would have provided equal facilities, remarkahly handy to several restaurants on or near Second Avenue., .such as the Imperialc, Colombo's, and the Palm, where, he finds, the easygoing atmosphere does wonders for a man whose head is too full of girders, spandrels, beams, and the ultimate failing point of steel. Lie engaged Ilarrison & Abramovitz to convert the international board's plans into drawings for the contrac- tors?a choice that was far from unex- pected., since the firm was already so closely linked to the project. This put Harrison, the director of planning, in the bizarre position of being the client of Harrison, of Harrison & Ahramovitz. "Ile was very tough on himself," II. L. McLeod, who headed the finance department of the I leadquarters Plan- ning Office, said later. "An architec- tural firm doing a job such as Harrison and Abramowitz did for the U.N. build- ings would ordinarily charge a fee of several million dollars. Harrison & Ahramovitz insisted on doing the. job for just cost plus the actual overhead. They didn't make a cent of profit." If there was any one day during the construction of the Headquarters that stood out as crucial for Harrison and his staff, it was the twenty-fifth of No- vember, 1950. Around nine o'clock on the morning- of that day- --a Saturday a hurricane blew into the New York area from the southeast and ripped full force up the Fast River. Harrison raced from his home on Fifth Avenue, near Sixty-fourth Street, to the half-finished Secretariat. Ile was soon joined there by three other members of his staff who were deeply involved in the project -- Mel ,cod, Glenn II. Bennett, and James A. Dawson and by Byron Price, the Assistant Secretary-General who was working with the Headquarters Plan- ning Oflice. "It was a real storm," Dawson has since said. "About thirty ?Ards in front of the Secretariat stood a platform used for mixing concrete. It was around twelve feet by twenty, and made of two-inch planks. Well, the hurricane lifted that platform up out of the mud and right into the air , like a toy, and almost tossed it against the building. It dropped a couple of yards short of where we were standing, - right at the entrance. A little later, Harrison and Price and the rest of us went up on the roof to see if we could measure the sway. \Are didn't have a level with us, so we used the crudest of all measuring devices; we dripped a paper match into a puddle of water and watched how much it moved?really the same as the bubble-in-water princi- ple: By our computations, the Secretar- iat was performing beautifully; she wasn't swaying any more than three- quarters of an inch. Wu doubled the fig- ure!, to he on the safe side, but that's still darn good, you know." Harrison, who was also worried about how the vast ex- panse of glass on the Secretariat's east side. would hold up (it Ali(l), remained at the site until well after dark, when the storm finally blew itself out. "It was a pretty rough day for me," he said later. "Every time you get a build- ing up, there's always one day when ? the full consciousness of your resp)(nsi- ? bilitv as an architect hits you. It's the day when -the building has to work. This was it." The Secretariat was finished first, then the Conference Building, and, the General Assembly. In the summer of 1950, when the last two buildings were still far from completed, Harrison and his staff suddenly found themselves faced with thc problem of inflation resulting from the outbreak of war in Korea. Tye? years earlier, in lining up its sources of construction ma- terials, the Headquarters Planning Of- fice had contracted to bury its struc- tural steel from the American Bridge Division of the United States Steel Corporation, and Benjamin Fairless, the corporation's president, had agreed to give the United Nations "preferential treatment." Delivery dates on steel at that time were ordinarily from twelve to sixteen months alter the receipt of an order, hut Fairless guaranteed liar- 05011 delivery within six MilrIthS. ? the war in Korea began, and steel be- came even harder to get than before, Fairless stood by his gatarantee, and most of the other companies supplying materials to the United Nations came through in the same manner, but the cost of steel and other building materials rose sharply- --an average of around twenty per cent and this threw Oh ,losely figured budget of the 'Head- quarters Planning Office badly out of kilter. Lie succeeded in negotiating an additional loan of three million dollars rhorn Congress, butt from there on it was up to Ilarrison to scale down the. origi- nal plans as best he could to complete the project without exceeding the total appropriation of sixty-eight million dol- lars. This meant some fairly drastic changes. Four committee rooms were eliminated from the Conference Build- ing, and the General Assembly was re- designed no fewer than nine times, each design being more economical than the one before. As originally conceived, the General Assembly was to have been a thin-waisted structure with an assembly hall at either end; now one of the two halls had to he abandoned, a lounge area for the delegates was chopped in half, the height of the ceil- ing of the remaining hall was dropped fifteen feet, and the length of the north lobby was diminished by some twenty feet?.3 loss that, in Harrison's eyes, severely impaired the looks of the en- trance. All along the line, less expen- sive. materials were substituted for the ones specified in the early plans?ter- razzo and carpeting for marble floor- ing, fabric for wood on the walls of set era 1 Cinninince rooms, marbleized glass for marble, and so on. "Wally was very ingenious about it all," Michael IIarris, a member of I larrison's execu- tive staff, said later. "For instance, there wits the matter of some columns in the lobby of the Assembly. They were to be made of concrete, and we'd been planning to cover them with plaster in- : stead of the marble facing originally called for. When ?Vally saw how the ? columns shaped up in concrete, he told 'Forget the plaster. NVe can save a little dough here. We'll just paint the concrete.' " 'iii October, 1952, four years and Hine month after construction began, the General Assembly Building was co impleted and the job was done. Count- ing the funds set aside for the landscap- ing of the site, the total cost 11:1(1 been sixty-seven million five hundred thou- sand dollars. R( )U0\ nine' ii chick one \Ioluul;my 11100111110. early this fall, Ilarrisoin merited in town from his country place at Huntington, Long Island, and madc for his office, in Rockefeller Center, Ill a state of lug h gnod humor. Mc had niq shunt the. kind of weekend he thrives on. At Iluntington, he bad read a nit sten by Ellen. Queen, one of his Livorite contemporary writers, and hd- Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 1:1) Approved For Release 2002RISCIEW4818PRIOPEKEE5167ervionalptirmER anced this with some poems by Dylan ; Thomas, whose 'rich, tumbling Ian- ; gunge fascinates him. He had enjoyed a first-class argument on the future shape Of the City of New York with one of his favorite conversational spar- ring partners, Robert Moses, who has: a place in nearby Babylon. On Satur- day evening, he and Mrs. Harrison had entertained a fairly large group at din- ner, and during the meal he had in- stigated the sending of a cablegram to Fernand Leger?whose professed Communism none of his old associates take very seriously?congratulating him on the opening of a new exhibition and signed "Your capitalist friends." In ad- dition, Harrison had worked for some time on an abstract painting he has been trying to finish for two years, pruned some fruit trees on his property, and put in three reviving hours sketching a brighi, lively design for a new combina- tion office building and opera hotise that may or may not go up someday on Broadway at Sixty-fourth Street. Upon reaching his office, Harrison whipped through his mail in ten min- utes, spent a half hour cleaning out a closet with Vinnic, the firm's general : factotum, and went over his sketches for .the opera house with AbramoVitz, and then the two partners discussed pltns. fin- an office building that the Com- mercial Investment Trust expects to erect on Madison Avenue, between Fifty-ninth and Sixtieth Streets. Pres- ently, a young architect from theH Middle West arrived to keep an ap- pointment with Harrison, and in the ? ensuing chitchat it developed that the , visitor .had not yet seen the United Nations Headquarters. Harrison rare- ly visits the United Nations these days unless some maintenance problem there calls for his attention or he wants ,to talk over with Lie's successor, Dag lammarskjahl, the touchy business of accepting or rejecting gifts of art prof- fered by member nations, but on this morning he impulsively offered to take the young man over and show him around. The offer being eagerly accept- ed, Harrison slapped on a narrow- brimmed brown felt hat he once picked . up in Oslo, and the two men beaded for the street, whereilarrison hailed a taxi. "The United Nations Headquarters,. skipper," he said to the driver, who, nodded and swung into the stream of traffic. As the cab made its way across town, Harrison said he felt that Ne York needed a club to supplement the present Architectural League by pro- viding a comfortable, natural gathering place for painters, sculptors, and archii tects, as the Cafe de Fiore does in Paris, and then turned to discuss the increas- ingly important role that he believes optics will play in the architecture of the future. "Since Cezanne, painters have studied every possible method of intensifying the human being's reac- tion to the forms depicted on flat sur- faces," he said. "In architecture, we're dealing with the same problem. What is the -effect on .the little guy when he looks at a building, or walks through it, or lives in it? How do we intensify his visual experience by simplifying form and color? No architect of the future will be any good unless he's a painter and a sculptor, too." ? When the two men reached the Headquarters site, Harrison took his companion for a stroll around the grounds. "We were talking about optics," he said. "Well, see that little break up there?" He pointed to the top of the Secretariat, where the mar- l& framing along the sides is slightly recessed. "We did that to pull the building in at the top. You know how the Greeks and Romans used to build their , walls slanting inward, so that the buildings wouldn't look top-heavy? We couldn't do that here, of course? the Secretariat is too high?SO we stepped in those sides instead." Har- rison turned, and his eye fell on the old New York City Housing Au- thority Building that is now the li- brary. He sighed. "That was sure a mistake, leaving that building up," he said. "It doesn't fit at all. But it's a complicated story, and anyway it's too late now." A few yards farther on, he came to a sudden halt. "1.she corner of that neck over there," he said, waving a hand toward the narrow, rectangular passageway that connects the General Assembly with the Conference Build- ing. "You've probably heard a hundred and one criticisms of these Headquar- ters buildings, but somehow no one has ever jumped on that neck. I don't know how they missed it. It's not right?not right at all." The two men entered the Secretariat Building, and Harrison led the way down a back stair- case. "If anyone was looking for some- thing to criticize, that neck is certainly lousy," he said as he guided his com- panion into a subbasement, two stories below street level, where a battery of clerks were sorting mail. "This ceiling should have been at least a fou higher, too," he continued in a mournful tone. "None of us realized that those over- head pipes would take up so much space. It doesn't give the guys enough room." 'Fhe tour moved on briskly?a brief Approved For Release 2002/08/21 : CIA-RDP80601676R004100060048-1 examination of the twenty-third floor, which is a typical service floor, housing elevator, air-conditioning, and ventilat- ing machinery, on to several office floors, then earthward by elevator and escala- tor and into the Conference Building, with its three council 'chambers, its nu- merous committee rooms and lounges, and its two restaurants, and finally, via the offensive neck, to the General .Assembly Building. For the most .part, Harrison was content to point out things that "we might have done -better," but he was openly pleased when the young architect expressed his ad- miration for certain features of the :buildings, such as the movable partitions in the Secretariat, which make it possible to rearrange the whole layout of a floor in a couple of days, and the para- bolic sweep of the walls of the Assembly Hall, which gives an effect of intimacy to a domed auditorium that is only a little smaller than the Radio City Music Hall. At the end of the tour, I larrison and his companion stood at the curb on .First Avenue, waiting for a cab. ."There'll be one aloniz in a minute," ,Harrison said. "Six ye:11-s ago, there ;wouldn't have been one in half an hour :in this part of town. I don't suppose you noticed when we got in the taxi coming 'over that the driver knew right away .where the United Nations was. Prob- ably seemed to you the most natural thing in the world. But, silly as it may sound, that always makes me feel igood?I mean the fact that the cab- :drivers all know now where the United 1Nations is. Hell, back in '48, when we were starting the U.N., none of them iknew what we were talking about." ?HERBERT WARREN WIND (This is the last of three articles on Mr. Harrison.) ? Dr. Frank Willard Libby, the newly- appointed scientist member of the Atomic Energy Commission, is known as the in- ventor of the "atomic time clock," a de- vice by which he has been able to deter- -mine the ages of objects up to 20,000 years old. This device will be used in Egypt as well.... - Thus it will he possible to determine the age of the mammies in Egypt. ?lleiritt (Lebanon) Star. The red-hot ones? ? ? NON-SEQUITUR DEPARTMENT [From the Springfield (Mass.) News] [he custom of using mint sauce with ? lamb is very old as indicated by the follow- ing verse from a medieval era: "Always have lobster sauce with salm- on." I_______Prrotiselease200itliirliPtift-TRDP8013016761iGUTO NDER WILL CIRCLE CLASSIFICATION TOP AND BOTTOM) ? 4* CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY OFFICIAL ROUTING SLIP TO INITIALS DATE 1 Director of Central Intelligence - frit' 2 221 Admin Bldg. 3 4 5 FROM INITIALS DATE 1 Actg. Asst. Director, C&D M ri. 2 3 SIGNATURE RETURN DISPATCH FILE is a be ' - I I APPROVAL r------1 INFORMATION r I I I ACTION I I DIRECT REPLY I I I I COMMENT I I PREPARATION OF REPLY 1 -I I I CONCURRENCE I I RECOMMENDATION I I Remarks: Routed to you, at the DD/Ifs suggestion, profile sketch of Wallace Harrison who will the architect for CIA's new building. - 4-P .41).. t --tAgt4 --;144.1t-4-t- (-?4?