���BLACK ROCK��� HITS 50! - CBS Weekly Update Newsletter



���BLACK ROCK��� HITS 50! - CBS Weekly Update Newsletter
Vol. 17, No. 822, Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Dick Wien, Editor / [email protected] / 212-975-5607
On March 24, 1965, CBS
Corporate headquarters
“officially” moved from 485
Madison Avenue to 51 West
52nd Street, New York. Like
everything else about CBS,
the move underscored the
Company’s dedication to
quality, creativity and leaderArchitect
ship. Profiling the building in a
Eero Saarinen
1966 article titled “Total Design
On A Grand Scale” Life Magazine wrote: “Across the U.S.
businessmen have commissioned stunning new buildings
to house their corporations. … Foremost among these
design devotes are the top executives of the Columbia
Broadcasting System which has just completed one of the
handsomest – and most austere – buildings in New York
City.” The New York Times (March 13, 1966) wrote: “It
does not look like a cigar lighter, a vending machine, a nutmeg grater. It is a building in the true classic sense: a complete design in which technology, function and esthetics
are conceived and executed integrally for its purpose. …
As such CBS (has) set the shape and standard for New
York building today.”
(Continued on page 2)
(BLACK ROCK, continued from Page 1)
Constructed of
selected black
granite and
rising 490 feet
from a sunken
plaza (37
floors and the
lobby floor),
“Black Rock”
was the first
CBS executives at groundbreaking
and only
breaking ceremony for the new CBS
headquarters building at 51 West
52nd Street, New York, NY. Image
designed by the
dated June 29, 1962. Copyright ©
1962 CBS Broadcasting Inc
architect Eero
Saarinen, best known for the Gateway Arch in St Louis
MO, the Vivian Beaumont Theater (inside New York’s
Lincoln Center) and the (original) Trans World Airlines
Terminal at JFK. Black Rock was also New York’s first
high rise office building to be executed in reinforced concrete. With its gray tinted heat absorbing glass windows
and triangular shaped columns, CBS’s new headquarters displayed then, as it does today, an elegant visual
complexity and beauty in sharp contrast to its neighbors
on 6th Avenue which the New York Times once
described as “no more than weatherproof
containers of rentable square footage, or candy wrapped
bulk space.”
CBS employee moving into Black Rock.
When Black Rock first opened its doors, CBS employees
found its interior to be as meticulously designed as its
exterior. Chairs and tables were crafted by Saarinen, iron
ashtrays were created in Japan and TV screens were concealed by mechanically moving walls covered with beige
wool. Pencil holders and in-and-out mail boxes were standardized, as was the lettering on elevators and bathroom
doors. Weekly watering teams attended to “official” office
greenery. Two committees decided on the pictures that
could be hung in public areas – mostly “hard-edged” canvases compatible with the exterior of the building. As for the
decor of personal offices, CBS Corporate Affairs VP E.
Kidder Meade said at the time: “If you want to hang a picture of your Aunt Maizie from the Bronx, the Art Department
will help you to frame it. (But) there will be discipline on how
they are hung.” The sole exception to this mandate of “total
design” was the 35th floor corner office of CBS’s founding
Chairman William S. Paley, which Life Magazine described
as being “filled with French antique tables and chairs, family
pictures, a clutter of memorabilia, and one of Paley’s most
prized possessions; an old battered cigar store Indian.”
Over the years Black Rock has been compared to such
classic structures as The Parthanon and the Strozzi
Palace as an example of a “masterpiece of stony
strength.” The building, and those associated with its
design, have received recognition from many prestigious
organizations including The New York Board of Trade;
The Municipal Art Society of New York; The
American Institute of Architects; The New York
Chapter; The American Institute of The American
Inside and out, Black Rock was created to underscore
CBS’s corporate identity as a company that embraced art,
culture and good taste. The intent of that goal remains
today, but as most employees would probably agree, such
practices as mandating the exact placement of furniture, and
cleaning all clutter out of offices at the end of the day, are
happily in the far distant past.
(Continued on Page 3)
A half Century
Black Rock’s
after Black Rock
was built, CBS
columns are “neither
remains committed
as simple nor as
to maintaining the
solid as they seem.
buillding’s status as
Rising uninterrupted
one of the most
from ground to top,
innovative structures
they have a dual pur-
in New York, if not
pose: as a bearing
the country. As in all
wall and as conduits for services. From the second floor
business units,
level they are hollow for ducts, and sheared flat on the interi-
energy efficiency
or. At the ground floor, they are solid and fully diamond-
improvements are
shaped inside and out and almost as impressive as the
being made, includ-
columns of the Parthenon. What is involved here are the
ing an ongoing
complexity of structure and service of the modern high-rise
migration to new LED lighting and the other low-energy use
building and its relationship to visual esthetics, a problem
lighting systems; the installation of a new, high-efficiency air
that separates the men from the boys and good buildings
filtration system installed that cuts electrical use by 160,000
from bad. CBS solves it with maximum logic and minimum
kWh’s annually and eliminates about 5,000 filters from dis-
posal in landfills; and a new TelePrescence video confer-
-- The New York Times, March 13, 1966
encing room which reduces the need for airline travel, thus
cutting our carbon footprint. But perhaps the most dramatic
innovation of all is the installation in 2010 of a living “Green
Roof” atop Black Rock which is reducing energy costs while
removing greenhouse gases and rainwater pollutants, generating oxygen, protecting the roof from UV and environmental damage, and keeping the building cooler, as plants
absorb the majority of the sun’s energy. To view a video of
CBS SVP Corporate Services and Chief Security Officer
Tom Cruthers describing the “Green Roof,” go to
(Continued from Page 2)
Unidentified CBS employee amidst demolition at
future CBS headquarters site at 51 West 52nd
Street, New York, NY.
Institute of Architects; The Architechiteral League
of New York; the Avenue of the Americas
Association; The New York Landmarks
Preservation Foundation and The Tiffany Annual
Award for Corporate Efforts to Promote and
Advance Design. But all honors aside, perhaps the
most appropriate testament to the nobility and
elegence of BlackRock 50 years on is the simple
statement: “Good art equals good business.”
(Continued on page 4)
UPDATE is published by CBS Communications Group.
Gil Schwartz, Senior Executive Vice President
Richard Wien, Editor, x5607 (NY)
Phoebe Gittelson: Assistant Editor