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Drawing, Design for a Skyscraper

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Ely Jacques Kahn and from the office of Buchman and Kahn. It is dated 1930 and we acquired it in 1952. Its medium is graphite with fixative on tracing paper mounted on cardboard . It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Beaux-Arts-trained architect Ely Jacques Kahn, known for his embrace of New York’s commercial development drew this skyscraper proposal in the midst of the city’s building boom. Known for mixing historicism and Art Deco modernism, Kahn here references the stepped facades of ancient ziggurats as well as the setback style that became characteristic of early twentieth-century urban architecture. Kahn emphasized the building's sixty-five-story height through vertical lines, and in the drawing, by its central placement looming over the city. The domed peak—unusual for the architect, who generally preferred strict rectilinearity—suggests the building had soared to its vertical limit. The design was possibly for an official French building to be built by Irwin S. Chanin of the Chanin Construction Company on the entire block between 62nd and 63rd Streets west of Central Park West. The stock market crash and succeeding recession ground the project to a halt. Although this building was never realized, more than fifty of his designs from the 1920s to 1960s were constructed and remain in use today.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Celebrating the Commercial Building.

This object was donated by Ely Jacques Kahn. It is credited Gift of Ely Jacques Kahn..

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  • mimeograph print, brush and blue watercolor on white paper.
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program....
  • 1991-53-1

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Its dimensions are

62.5 × 40 cm (24 5/8 × 15 3/4 in.)

It is signed

Inscribed in graphite, lower margin center: BUCHMAN AND KAHN, ARCH'T'S

It is inscribed

Inscribed in graphite, lower margin center: BUCHMAN AND KAHN, ARCH'T'S

Cite this object as

Drawing, Design for a Skyscraper; Designed by Ely Jacques Kahn (American, 1884–1972); Office of Buchman and Kahn (United States); USA; graphite with fixative on tracing paper mounted on cardboard ; 62.5 × 40 cm (24 5/8 × 15 3/4 in.) ; Gift of Ely Jacques Kahn.; 1952-15-13

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s and The Cooper-Hewitt Collections: A Design Resource.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Drawing, Design for a Skyscraper |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=28 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>