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The Pan Am Building

W.J. Rayment / -- The Pan Am Building in New York was completed in 1963. It was two blocks wide and fifty-nine stories tall. It is situated behind the Grand Central terminal. It was built in the International Style.

The Pan Am Building was built by the New York Central Railroad, which owned the property. They were struggling in the 1950s. They made an agreement with local developer, Erwin Wolfson. The building was designed by Richard Roth who had been noted for designing Naval Bases. Roth was a business-like fellow who emphasized traffic flow and economy.

Wolfson was criticized for his first choice of designer so he hired a famous architect named Gropius, a leader in the Internationalist Style that rejected industrial architecture. Gropius brought in yet another architect, Pietro Belluschi, who also happened to be dean of the school of architecture at MIT. With three such architects a certain amount of confusion and conflict was inevitable. The result was a structure that was roundly criticized by those that were passionate about architecture in New York.

In spite of its failure with critics, the Pan Am Building has been an economic success, making money for its investors ever since. The history of the Pan Am Building is chronicled in The Pan Am Building, by Meredith D. Clausen.


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