The plaza in front of the Seagram Building has all of the formality and grandeur of a Renaissance piazza. By setting his massive bronze-tinted tower back from Park Avenue to create a corporate plaza -- an avant-garde idea when it was completed in 1958 -- architect Mies van der Rohe created an opportunity for a grand square bookmarked on either end by monumental structures. His own monolithic tower anchors one side, while the grand Charles McKim-designed Renaissance revival Racquet and Tennis Club building serves as a similarly monumental focal point on the other side.
However, the ultimate success of this space comes from the architectural and kinetic dynamism that adds vibrancy to this balanced formal composition of urban space. The Seagram Building's glassiness and dark color are complemented by the opaque pale masonry of the Racquet and Tennis Club. Both buildings have facades that are carefully organized into static, orderly geometric patterns; yet the classical quoins and rustication of the Racquet and Tennis Club are offset by the minimalist steal facade of the Seagram Building. Moreover, with busy Park Avenue cutting across one side of the plaza, there is a strong sense of movement through the space in both a physical sense and a visual sense, taking into consideration the linear views that this bisecting avenue opens up. In one direction there is a monumental view towards the iconic New York Central Building in front of the Met Life Tower, and in the other direction is another iconic view down an endless canyon of Midtown high-rises.