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Mount Sinai Hospital

Middle of block between Fifth and Madison Avenues and 101st Street

View of Mt. Sinai Hospital from Central Park

View of Mt. Sinai Hospital and new apartment tower just to the north from the reservoir in Central Park

By Carter B. Horsley

The  Fifth  Edition of the AIA Guide to New York City by Norval  White, Elliot Willensky wth Fran Leadon described this building as a  "great, rusty, cadaverous blockbuster, an incursive  bulk."

It was designed in 1976 by Roy Allen of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and sits in a large mid-block plaza.  Mr. Allen designed One Liberty Plaza downtown on Broadway for US Steel, a slimmer and more attractive similar tower in 1972.

Annenberg Building

Annenberg Building at Mount Sinai Hospital viewed from 96th Street and Madison Avenue

The mid-block structure is a dark-brown monolith whose few widely space angular piers suggests the possible influence of Eero Saarinen's dark office tower in a sunken plaza for CBS in midtown.  That tower, however, was much more elegant and surrounded by other tall structures.  This tower's bulk is much more menacing.

In their great book, "New York 1960, Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial," Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman, provide the following commentary about the hospital:

"Mount Sinai Hospital's medical complex was concentrated on a superblock bounded by Fifth and Madison avenues,  Ninety-eighth and 101st streets, but the hospital maintained buildings on nearby blocks as well.  In the 1950s and 1960s, the hospital erected a series of buildings that vastly expanded the complex's facilities and fortified its presence in the neighborhood, although they were rather banal exercises in Modernist aesthetics, largely indistinguishable from the most mediocre post-war office and apartment buildings.

"The best of the new buildings were Kahn & Jacobs's nine-story Klingenstein Pavilion (1952),  a maternity facility  at 1176 Fifth Avenue, and the firm's adjacent Atran Laboratory and Berg Institute for Research (1954), extending east to Madison Avenue. 

"Less satisfying were Eggers & Higgins's twelve-story Klingenstein Clinical Center (1967), a psychiatric facility at 1450 Madison Avenue, and Brown & Gunther's List Nurses Residence (1962), a twelve-story red-brick at 3 East 101st Street.  The most distinguished of the lot was Pomerance & Breines's narrow seventeen-story, balcony-studded Baum-Rothchild Staff Pavilion apartment tower (1967) at 1249 Park Avenue, on the southeast corner of Ninety-seventh Street.  The design added a lively if somewhat incongruous note to the avenue, mediating between the dominant uniformity of the stylistically restrained, Classical prewar luxury apartment buildings to the south and the tenements to the north.

"In the early 1970s Mount Sinai succeeded in having the city demap Ninety-ninth and 100th streets, thus creating a site for its largest postwar addition, the thirty-one-story Annenberg Building (1974), which housed the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, founded in 1968.  Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with Roy O. Allen serving as partner in charge of design, this behemoth of Cor-ten steel and dark-tinted glass towered above its surroundings, a jarring and ominous intruder on the skyline when viewed from either Central Park or East Harlem.

Annenberg tower seen from north on Madison

View from the north on Madison Avenue

"At ground level the building was no more benign, rising from a banal plaza relieved only by a sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro titled Large Sphere (1967)....Paul Goldberger was equally biting in his criticism:....'In true Skidmore, Owings & Merrill fashion, this is a  box, making no concessions whatsoever to anything around it, but bursting on the neighborhood and thrusting itself onto the skyline like the town bully.'"

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