|Hood's soaring Rockefeller Center|
from Prometheus' fountain and
|Hood's McGraw-Hill Building, 1931|
His best independent work is the trademark for a great publishing empire--McGraw Hill. Foreshadowing Rockefeller Center, the structure is an interconnected manufacturing and administrative complex whose unadorned tower with its alternating vertical banks of soaring windows and brick shafts crowns a series of modest, smaller masses at its base. Raymond Hood was never hired to be the leading architect for Rockefeller Center. He rose to that position merely by the dominating influence of his buildings, making him the number one designer in the new International style in New York. His talents were a mix of the visionary tempered by the practical, and the shrewd manner in which he was able to meet the needs of clients while selling them on the needs of the building itself. Sadly, Hood left his mark on Rockefeller Center while never living to see it completed. He died in 1934. Amazingly, his prominence in his chosen field amounted to little more than a decade. Yet, it was a critical period, and his was a critical input, marking the transition in urban architecture from the decorative to a functional, yet humane, form of beauty.