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Japan Society Building is our newest Modern landmark

March 26, 2011

Just this week the NYC Landmarks Commission officially designated Japan Society Headquarters (1971), making it the city’s youngest landmark (a distinction previously held by Roche-Dinkeloo’s Ford Foundation headquarters, 1967) and the 12th Modern site to receive designation since 2003. The five-story Japan Society building at 333 West 47th Street was designed by Junzo Yoshimura, a leading Japanese architect during the second half of the 20th century, and George Shimamoto, an architect at the firm now known as Gruzen & Partners.

Yoshimura designed a four-story structure to capture his vision of combining Classical elegance with Modern simplicity, creating a distinctly Japanese building through the use of contemporary materials of concrete, steel and glass. (In the 1990s Beyer Blinder Belle added a sensitive fifth story and guided a full renovation.) The building’s charcoal-colored façade is comprised of a series of elements considered to be a reinterpretation of familiar Japanese elements: painted concrete spandrels, recessed windows, white ceiling panels and metal screens. “Yoshimura produced a serene work that spoke to Japan’s aspirations at the time and reflected the nation’s contemporary architectural design trends,” said Commission chairman Robert Tierney on the day of designation.

Last summer DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State testified in support of this designation. Kudos go to chapter member and volunteer Lisa Chin who did research on the building and prepared the testimony statement. The building is open to the public during business hours so be sure to stop by next time you’re in the United Nations neighborhood.

Read the full designation report:
More about Japan Society:

Japan Society, Junzo Yoshimura & George Shimamoto, 1971. photo: Wikipedia Commons