Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building
  1. About the Chrysler Building in New York
    1. Building Catalogations
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectureal style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Chrysler Building is an Art-deco skyscraper designed in 1927 by William Van Alen and built between 1928 and 1930, for a reported $15.0 million dollars, in New York, NY.

Its precise street address is 405 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY. You can also find it on the map here.

The Chrysler Building is a structure of significant importance both for the city of New York and the United States as a nation. The building embodies the distinctive characteristic features of the time in which it was built and the Art Deco style. Because of that, the Chrysler Building was officially declared as a national landmark on September 12th 1978, and was included in the National Register of Historic Places on June 23rd 1980, as well as in the New York Register of Historic Places on December 8th 1976.

At the time of its completion in 1930 the Chrysler Building incorporated solutions that were quite advanced at the time, these included air conditioning as wekk as telephone and electricyt cables that run through pipes beneath the floor. This is what we know today as a "technical floor", and is relatively common in modern office spaces, but was certainly a novelty back in the 30s.

The building has been restored 5 times over the years to ensure its conservation and adaptation to the pass of time. The main restoration works happened in 1952, 1961, 1971, 1996 and 1998.

Building's timeline

Design completed
Construction begins
Construction completed
Added to the New York RHP
Declared NL
Added to the NRHP
years ago
  1. 1950 to 1952 - Annex was added. The architect in charge was Reinhardd, Hofmeister & Walquist.
  2. 1961 - Steel elements were first polished.
  3. 1971 - Lobby and elevator cabs restoration. The architect in charge was Kenneth Kleiman.
  4. 1995 to 1996 - Exterior and spire restoration . The architect in charge was Hoffman Architects.
  5. 1998 - General renovation. The architect in charge was Beyer Blinder Bell.

Architect and team

William Van Alen was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

William Van Alen was in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline, which usually involves many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the Chrysler Building a reality:

  • Ralph Squire & Sons in charge of Structural Engineering
  • Fred T Ley & Co as the Main Contractor
  • Otis as the company in charge of the elevators system
  • Walter P. Chrysler as the Main Developer
  • Edward Trumbull as the collaborating Artist

Architectural Style

The Chrysler Building can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The Chrysler Building was completed in 1930, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

The Chrysler Building reaches an architectural height of 925ft (282m), 1047ft (319m) if you count the antenna, with the last accesible floor being 856ft (261m) off the gorund. It has a total of 79 floors, 77 above ground and 2 basements, served by 32 elevators.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1930, the Chrysler Building has mainly been used as Commercial space.

1047ft (319m)
925ft (282m)
856ft (261m)
2 basements

Materials & Structure

The Chrysler Building uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features polished black granite from Shastone covering the ground floor facade and surrounding the entrances, with white Georgia marble clads the three upper floors. White and gray bricks cover the rest of the facades. Use of metallic ornaments is on of the most characteristic elements of the Chrysler Building, with its gargoysles and eagles found on the 31st and 61st floor being part of some of the most famous photographs of the building.

Other materials found at the Chrysler Building include, nirosta steel, this stainless steel alloy covers the dome, ornamentations and entrances door frames, yellow travertine, found on the floors, aluminum, used between windows on each floor, and African red granite, found in the lobby walls.