Four Seasons Renovation Fail: Is Aby Rosen A Walking PR Disaster?

The NY Landmarks Preservation Commission has turned down a planning request by the controversial New York developer Aby Rosen to make radical alterations to the interior of The Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan. The decision came yesterday after a hearing in the city. If you recall Rosen battled preservationists last September over the removal of a tapestry by Pablo Picasso on loan to The Four Seasons, since its opening in 1958.  The masterpiece is now on display at the New York Historical Society.

The Four Season’s Restaurant is one of Manhattan’s architectural gems and considered an iconic example of 20th century interior design. It is housed in the Seagram Building, one of the most significant Modernist buildings in New York City. The architect Philip Johnson designed the restaurant within the 38-story bronze building created by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, to house the US headquarters of a Canadian distillers giant.

Having won landmark protection in 1989 it was thought that it would be impossible to alter the famous interior of this restaurant, however the new owner RFR Holding owned by the outspoken art-collecting developer Aby Rosen was desperate to update the interior to a 21st century state of the art eatery. Rosen previously told the NY Times, “If something was designed in 1958 and it’s not functional in 2015, you ask for a change. I’m going to restore the Four Seasons back to its glory. I love the guys but their time has passed, and sometimes something great needs to go.” Yikes this man is in need of a good PR company!  As we all know everyone wants to be able to relive life in the ‘Madmen’ era and a visit to the Four Seasons restaurant is as close as you can get to reliving the days. 

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is the largest municipal preservation agency in the nation is responsible for protecting New York City’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings and sites by granting them landmark or historic district status, and regulating them once they’re designate.

When Aby J. Rosen, first submitted the proposed changes to the restaurant, his company failed to tell the Four Seasons’ owners, nor did he offer details of his plans. The works were described as repairs and cleaning. Perhaps the ever popular RFR boss hoped to avoid a challenge from conservationists.

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