Raymond Hood (1881 – 1934)

American architect, Raymond Hood is famous for winning the 1922 Chicago Tribune Building competition and for having designed the NY Daily News Building, not to mention being on the team of architects who designed the Rockefeller Center in NYC.

Raymond M. Hood portrait in black and white.
Raymond M. Hood

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Hood#/media/File:Raymond_M._Hood,_1923.jpg

The science of skyscrapers

Raymond Mathewson Hood was born in 1881 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island (US). He attended Brown University before studying at MIT School of Architecture, to then reach Paris in order to enter the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where, during his studies, he met John Mead Howells. In 1911, he graduated in Architecture and in 1922, he won the international competition for the Chicago Tribune Tower, which would became one of his major works. It was during his stay in France that he learned of Art Déco, what would become his signature architecture style.

McGraw Hill Building, NYC.
McGraw Hill Building, NYC

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/e52da64d-eec9-4f19-a612-a166a3da1ebf by paul_houle

Much of the activity of Hood focuses around the expression of the skyscraper and its morphological peculiarities (American Radiator Building, McGraw-Hill Building, Daily News Building, all in New York), characterized by research on eclectic bases that, while without achieving qualitatively exceptional results, gave an impression of American architecture in the years between 1920 and 1930 and to New York itself. He died at the young age of 53, and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

American Radiator Building, NYC.
American Radiator Building, NYC

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/fc005b7c-2faa-44b9-9088-6570d40802d7 by JasonParis

What Were His Major Works?

Hood’s skyscraper-oriented body of work isn’t just vast, but constitutes some of America’s best buildings in the category.

In 1922, on the occasion of its 75th anniversary, newspapers announced an international competition sought “for Chicago, and the most beautiful building in the world”. At the closing of the competition, the judges awarded Howells & Hood’s Chicago Tribune Building the prize of $50,000.00 (of which one-fifth was Hood’s share). Hood and Howells’ award -winning, Gothic Revival styled tower used architectural ideas borrowed from the past. The lower office block is covered in Indiana limestone with vertical pillars and horizontal spandrels characteristic of Art Deco; embedded in its walls are stones of historical monuments and battlefields around the world. The crown of the building resembles a medieval European tower. This design attracted the sense of nostalgia, history and moral purpose of newspaper owners.

Chicago Tribune Building.
Chicago Tribune Building

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/448e7a94-7759-4b67-a6e2-0b4ccca1b0df by Lisa Andres

The Daily News Building is a 145-meter skyscraper, founded in Manhattan in 1929; until the mid-nineties, it was the headquarters of the newspaper NY Daily News. It was one of the first skyscrapers to have a flat roof without a decorative crown on top, considered thus a forerunner to the likes of the Rockefeller Center. Its Art Déco leanings can be particularly evident looking at the main entrance, surmounted by a fat bas-relief that represents employees in a beam of sunlight. The flagship of the Daily News Building hides inside the building: it is the giant globe embedded in the hall. The rotating sphere is at the center of a solemn hall, with a black glass dome ceiling, and it represents the world’s largest in-house globe. This expressed the universal perspective of the famous newspaper which obtained considerable success.

Daily News Building, NYC.
Daily News Building, NYC

Image source:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/e3101286-af1f-41d4-9b45-ce68160f4483  by vxla

How Can We Identify Hood’s Style?

New York Times describes him as “the 20th-century’s greatest molder of skyscraper form“.  Hood was an architect with a clear and coherent vision of what the skyscraper and the city should be. Large buildings could not be allowed to go everywhere, poised between them as they have become in recent years. Hood was a pragmatic and realistic artist who wanted big towers and wanted smaller buildings, who believed passionately in the virtues of congestion and in the balance between congestion and order.

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