The Architecture of Mad Men

With the finale–the final show of the final season!–of Mad Man tomorrow, I thought it a fitting time to revive this post I wrote for my friends over at Adventures in Preservation. Whether or not you watch Mad Men, you can appreciate this opportunity to step back a few decades and look closer at the now ever-present glass skyscraper. Read on!

Preservation Journey

Mad Men, a widely acclaimed TV drama based in 1960s New York, has garnered millions of viewers and inspired everything from wardrobe collections to cocktail menus. This week it’s back for its sixth season and the Internet is abuzz with anticipation. What better time to look at Mad Men from a different angle: historic preservation?

Inland Steel Building, ChicagoWhile the “glass skyscraper” with the open floor plan is completely familiar and normal to us, it wasn’t necessarily so for the staff at Sterling Cooper advertising agency (a fictional company that occupies a building on Madison Avenue in New York City). The glass skyscraper is often credited to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German architect who immigrated to the United States on the eve of the Second World War (1939). Mies van der Rohe began his glass skyscraper work in Chicago in the 1940s; two of his most well-known works are the Dirksen…

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