2. Walter Gropius was among the building’s main architects

Pan Am Building exterior

Walter Gropius was the founder and leader of the Bauhaus, a German art school located in Weimar that strove to unify mass production with creative artistry. Gropius gained fame for his designs of the Fagus Factory in Germany, the University of Baghdad, the Harvard Graduate Center and Boston’s John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building. One of Gropius’ only projects in New York was the Pan Am Building, which he co-designed with Pietro Belluschi; the latter designed Alice Tully Hall at the Juilliard School.

Alongside Richard Roth, whose own designs with his family’s firm include the World Trade Center, Gropius planned the building in the International style. According to the Getty Research Institute, internationalism is “characterized by an emphasis on volume over mass, the use of lightweight, mass-produced, industrial materials, rejection of all ornament and colour, repetitive modular forms, and the use of flat surfaces, typically alternating with areas of glass.” This is reflected in the building’s precast concrete exterior walls, glass windows, octagonal shape and repetitive forms.