After architect Raymond Hood finished the renovation of Mori's restaurant in Greenwich Village in 1920, he found success designing radiator covers for the American Radiator Company. The income allowed him to move with his bride and growing family to an apartment on Washington Square. In 1922 John Mead Howells invited Hood to join him on a design competition for the Chicago Tribune Building, and when they won the $50,000 award, Hood finally emerged out of debt.
Winning the prestigious Tribune competition allowed Hood to secure his first important New York commission - the new building to house the American Radiator Company at 40 West 40th Street. In designing a tower that would symbolize the company, Hood designed several unusual features, including the use of black brick. He didn't want anyone to work after dark in the building, thinking that the illumination would disrupt the overall impression of mass and solidity. He couldn't control the workforce, of course, and George O'Keeffe (see related post) made the building famous by painting it at night.
After the building was completed in 1924 Hood moved his offices into the building's fourteenth floor. He partnered with J. André Fouilhoux, a French engineer, and Frederick A. Godley. The firm also designed the National Radiator Building in London, also a structure of black brick.
Increasingly successful in a time that coalesced with the national building boom of the 1920s, Hood enjoyed a long four-hour lunch every Friday at Mori's with Viennese designer Joseph Urban, his best friend and architect of the Ziegfeld Theater, and architects Ely Jacques Kahn and Ralph Walker. Among them they built a significant part of the famous New York skyline.
For Hood, after the Radiator Building, he would soon leave his Gothic designs in favor of sleeker and less ornamental work. The Daily News building provided reasons to move on to something more modern.
Image: The American Radiator Building, 1924. The carousel in Bryant Park is in the foreground. photo by WOTBA. 2008.
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