Raymond Hood, Art Deco Architect of 30 Rock

(1881-1934)

Raymond Hood-designed 30 Rockefeller Plaza in NYC with Lee Lawrie's mural above the entrance
Raymond Hood-designed 30 Rockefeller Plaza in NYC with Lee Lawrie's mural above the entrance. Photo by Barry Winiker/Photolibrary Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

American architect Raymond Hood straddled the centuries. He became famous for Neo-Gothic and Art Deco buildings. By the end of his career, however, Raymond Hood was designing buildings so modern that they foretold the International Style.

Background:

Full Name: Raymond Mathewson Hood

Born: March 29, 1881 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Died: August 14, 1934 in Stamford, Connecticut

Education:

  • Brown University, Rhode Island
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, Cambridge, MA
  • Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris

Important Buildings:

New York City seems to have a love affair with Raymond Hood's architecture. The American Radiator Building has been reinvented as the Bryant Park Hotel, an upscale experience near the NY Public Library and one of the city's prettiest parks. Not to be outdone, comedian Tina Fey created the situation comedy 30 Rock, making the old GE Building more famous than it ever was.

Styles Associated with Hood:

About Raymond Hood:

Raymond Hood became famous in 1922 when he and John Mead Howells won a competition to design the Chicago Tribune Tower. The design by Hood and Howells was selected from over 200 entries, including designs by great names like Walter Gropius, Adolf Loos, and Eliel Saarinen.

Hood's Chicago Tribune Tower may have appealed to judges of the day because although the skyscraper was modern, its facade was Neo-Gothic. Raymond Hood moved away from the Neo-Gothic style in later works.

Raymond Hood is perhaps best known for his work on Rockefeller Center (including 30 ROCKefeller Center) in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Covering 22 acres, Rockefeller Center encompasses 19 buildings, including the Art Deco Radio City Music Hall. Critics have described Rockefeller center a symbol of modernist capitalist architecture.

When Raymond Hood designed New York's McGraw-Hill Building, he was thoroughly grounded in modernism. Clad with blue-green terra cotta, the McGraw-Hill Building has been called both Art Deco and Streamline Moderne. But the horizontal bands of windows and lack of ornamentation suggest the emerging International Style.

Source: Raymond Mathewson Hood Collection (022) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design [accessed August 10, 2015]