The Pierre was built in 1930 by the architectural firm of Schulze and Weaver, well known for their hotel design. Tall and slender, with characteristic setbacks, its silhouette looks very much like the Art Deco.
However, on closer examination, this is where its similarity with Art Deco ends. Its base with columns, window arches, and gigantic garlanded terra-cotta urns along the balustrades look neo-classical with a sprinkling of Louis XVIth detail.
The most prominent element of the building, its mansard roof, was modeled on Jules Hardouin-Mansart’s Chapelle Royale at Versailles. Jules Hardouin-Mansart, a prominent French Baroque architect, was a great-nephew of François Mansart – known for his mansard roof. This copper-green sloping roof is the defining feature of the Second Empire style, popular in the second half of the 19th century. It usually belongs on much shorter structures, making this Second Empire appearance in the sky quite remarkable.
The interiors were as eclectic: the Edwardian-style dining roof co-existed with Louis XV-style main ballroom and the flamboyant Rotunda.
So, what’s the style of The Pierre?
Turns out that it’s neither Art Deco nor neo-classical nor the Second Empire. Before the hotel’s opening, its promoters referred to it as a Georgian-style skyscraper! Georgian style was popular in England during the rule of all four King Georges, thus the name. Consecutively, it became the most dominant architectural trend in the colonies from the early 1700s until the Revolutionary War. The style is characterized by simplicity, symmetry, restrained decorative elements, and unpretentious elegance. Since one of its stylistic traits is classic proportions, it is unusual to see the Georgian style applied to a skyscraper.
The Pierre was conceived to create an “atmosphere of a private club or residence” and have “simplicity and refinement” – the task achieved by designing it as a Georgian-style skyscraper with a neo-classical base and a Second Empire roof.
With that in mind, it seems useless to confine The Pierre into the boundaries of one style. It is a sight that’s so uniquely New York that, perhaps, its distinct eclectic presence becomes, in itself, a style.
- Architect: Schultze & Weaver
- Year: 1930
- Location: 2 East 61st Street
- Floor count: 41