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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Elegance And Respect: The Crossroads Building Reconsidered

 In 1965 architect Ely Jacques Kahn retired after having spent the past six decades devoted to the craft of architecture. One of the "three little men" - along with Ralph Walker and Raymond Hood, a triumvirate of Ecole des Beaux-Arts-trained New York architects whose diminutive physical statures belied their immense talent and influence and who were known to meet regularly to discuss the issues of their profession, often leaving behind tables of sketched-on napkins - Kahn's "frozen fountains" shaped the look of depression-era Manhattan.

A famous photo from the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects annual ball of 1931 shows Kahn (left of center), Ralph  Walker (dressed as One Wall Street, right of center), William Van Alen (architect of the Chrysler Building, center) and others dressed as their most famous buildings. In this case, Mr. Kahn was dressed as the building he regarded as one of his best designs, the Squibb Building.