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Gropius Didn’t Do It

In response to:

Smash It: Who Cares? from the November 8, 2012 issue

To the Editors:

Martin Filler, in his article “Smash It: Who Cares?” [NYR, November 8], is mistaken in stating that the Pan Am Building was designed by “Walter Gropius and the Architects’ Collaborative.” The architect was Richard Roth (Emery Roth & Sons).

What happened was that when Roth’s designs were made known, the New York City arts community was outraged. In response, the developer, Erwin Wolfson, engaged Pietro Belluschi and Walter Gropius as consultants (as individuals, not with their firms). After the consultation, Wolfson said, as I recall, “They told me to articulate the mullions. It cost me a million dollars.”

As built, the Pan Am Building is not significantly different from Roth’s original design, with only very minor modifications.

P.S. I am an architect who worked on the Pan Am Building tenant space.

Lawrence Lieberfeld
New York City

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