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Starchitect Says Four Seasons Restaurant Reno Is 'Ill-Advised'

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The Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building has been a hotbed of contention for building owner Aby Rosen, who really just wants to change the iconic Philip Johnson-designed room. First Rosen duked it out with the Landmarks Conservancy over Picasso's Le Tricorne—a painted stage curtain that the art collector may or may not have offhandedly referred to as a "rag"—which formerly hung in the restaurant and has since been removed by the Landmarks Conservancy. Now the landlord is attempting to push through an Annabelle Selldorf-designed interior overhaul of the legendary power lunch destination. No one is happy about it. The Journal reports that the conservancy and other major players are teaming up to decry the renovation. "It is an ill-advised renovation that will affect the quality of the room," Robert A.M. Stern told the Journal, "It is one of the great rooms in New York, and one of the few great modernist rooms." Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of Seagram Company chief Samuel Bronfman who is largely attributed with leading the design charge behind the iconic building also frowns on the plan.

Rosen's plan inside the restaurant is to convert a glass enclosed wine cellar into a powder room, remove a low glass wall in front of the bar designed by Philip Johnson, and make other cosmetic changes. Rosen also wants to change the bronze entrance canopies outside of the restaurant. For the time being, the renovation is being held up by the Landmarks Preservation Commission—the Mies Van Der Rohe-designed Seagram Building is, after all, one of the city's most prominent modern structures—because of Rosen's failure to notify the Landmark's Conservancy of his plans to renovate. In 2007, Rosen signed an easement ceding control of the building's exterior in order to take advantage of a tax break. Rosen's plans to change the entrance canopies violate that agreeement. The proposed changes will come in front of the LPC on May 19.
· The Four Seasons Becomes a Battleground [WSJ]
· Seagram Building's Four Seasons Restaurant May Renovate [Curbed]
· Revisit the Rise of Mies Van Der Rohe's Iconic Seagram Building [Curbed]
· 6 Things You May Not Know About the Seagram Building [Curbed]
· Preservationists Gingerly Move Embattled Picasso Curtain [Curbed]