The Architecture of Rockefeller Center

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

The Rockefeller Center in New York City is made up of 19 buildings that were chiefly designed by architect Raymond Hood. In this lesson, we'll talk about the architecture of the Rockefeller Center.

The Must-Know Details

Rockefeller Center
30 rock

Did you know that many of the most popular late-night shows are filmed at Rockefeller Center? The 19 buildings that make up the stunning Rockefeller Center in New York City take up 22 acres. Every building at Rockefeller Center is gorgeous, but the central building is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which most people can recognize. The original 14 buildings were constructed in the 1930s and the other buildings were added after 1940. This lesson goes over the architecture of the Rockefeller Center.


The main architectural style used for the original Rockefeller Center is Art Deco. Art Deco is an art style characterized by glamorous details, streamlined vertical lines, the use of expensive materials, and sculptures. Art Deco skyscrapers, like many of the ones at Rockefeller Center, culminate in spires, pointed tops, or crowned rooftops. Also, the buildings, when lit up at night, have a magnificent appeal! The buildings were built using limestone cladding and a solid steel frame.

Who Designed Rockefeller Center?

Raymond Hood, an American architect, was the chief architect of the development of Rockefeller Center. Raymond Hood hired Wallace Harrison, an American architect, to help out, and he eventually completed the design for 10 Rockefeller Plaza. It took three major architectural firms to complete the designs for the entire center.

Decorative Elements

Prometheus Fountain

The Rockefeller Center is rich with decorative elements ranging from stand-alone sculptures to carvings in the stone facades. Two main sculptures stand out: Atlas and Prometheus.Atlas, which is in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, was co-created by Lee Lawrie, a prominent American sculptor. Lawrie also created 11 other pieces for Rockefeller Center. The Atlas sculpture is of Atlas, a Titan from Greek mythology, holding up the Earth. Prometheus, created by Paul Manship, is an 18-foot-tall gilded bronze statue of Prometheus, another Greek Titan, with fire in his hand. This statue is positioned near the ice rink at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

In addition to the sculptures, the many gardens of Rockefeller Center have beautiful fountainheads. Six magnificent fountainheads ranging from mermaids to sea nymphs are situated throughout the area. Additionally, many of the buildings have rooftop gardens designed for outdoor events and dining.

30 Rockefeller Plaza

Atlas Sculpture at 30 Rockefeller Plaza

30 Rockefeller Plaza, also known as the Comcast Building, is the hallmark building of the entire complex. Raymond Hood was responsible for designing it, and he went above and beyond with the design. The building is a slender, functional skyscraper that has a flat rooftop instead of the traditional Art Deco spire. The building has 70 floors and rises to 850 feet.

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