The silhouette of Manhattan is unmistakable. It is symbolic of this city and its values to people worldwide: aspiration, wealth, struggle, diversity, sophistication, and a distinct feeling of ordered chaos. The Art Deco towers of the 1930s defined a new vision of urbanity. They broke boundaries and challenged people, and drew criticism as all progress will. I believe the genius of their design is a reference to the past, embedded in their futuristic profile.
A good design resolves countless variables, so neatly that it seems the only possible solution. William Lamb, architect of the Empire State Building, had to consider vertical structure, wind force, airship docking, elevators, and the commercial spaces of the building (and much more). Yet an artist knows to step back, and keep control of the composition. These buildings had to function in unprecedented ways, and have beauty. Louis Sullivan said, “I make a design simple, then complex, then simple again.” Towers like the Empire State and Chrysler have refined proportions, pleasing materials and ornament, and symbolic meaning in their form.