Exquisite Art Deco drawings published in Nobrow Press’ new book
The severe monolith of Ideal House (1929) originally housed the American National Radiator Company in London. Their New York HQ has a similar black and gold livery; both were designed by Raymond Hood, who debuted by winning the Chicago Tribune competition in 1922 with a neo-Gothic confection, much to the chagrin of the Modernists. (Ayn Rand was also unimpressed, allegedly using Hood as the model for the ruthless and talentless Peter Keating — see p110.)
But Hood went on to design some of the most intriguing transitional New York skyscrapers, dispensing with Art Deco crowns in favour of sleek linearity: the Daily News Building (1930), the McGraw-Hill Building (1931), and eventually, Rockefeller Center. It was a home-grown Modernism that tends to be ignored in favour of Mies’s gnomic abstractions, but Hood and his temples to media and commerce may have more to say about the mid-century American city. This illustration shows the beginning of Hood’s process of paring back the Deco glitz, and comes from c’s 3m-long frieze of hand-drawings London Deco, which took the author 1,200 hours to execute (Nobrow Press).