7. General Electric’s RCA Building
The RCA Building’s most recognizable feature is its extravagant, imposing rooftop, with its blue and white spires shooting up to the sky like icicles or stalactites. The building was designed by the firm Cross & Cross for the company General Electric, and was completed in 1920. It was designed to emulate electricity and radio waves, hence the spires shooting off in all directions. Radios were taking off at the time, due to the incentive World War I had provided for improvements to radio technology and the increased popularity of commercial radio shows.
The building was intended to embody the radio waves that were only just beginning to link the country and the world together. Its red brick and marble facade boasts silver lighting-bolts and iron clocks bordered by elegant brick fans, and its insides are just as grand as its outsides, with vaulted ceilings, aluminum plating, aquamarine-colored glass chandeliers, and light pink marble walls creating an atmosphere of opulence and evoking a visceral conversation between static and stone.
Located at 570 Lexington Avenue, the building is commands a striking presence even when compared to the more modern skyscrapers that have risen up around it. At night, lit up by fluorescents, it almost seems to be a mass of blue fire, rising above the city and proclaiming the all-consuming nature of technology, a phenomenon that continues to define the modern world.