In his prepared keynote address to the Urban Land Institute’s Urban Leader Summit in Frankfurt, Germany, Rob Speyer told attendees that Rockefeller Center represents a “happy building” because “more than just joining bricks with mortar, it connects people with other people.”
“So what makes Rockefeller Center so happy?” Speyer asked the summit’s audience. “It’s not the architecture, though the design is stunning. And it’s not the priceless artwork embedded in the Indiana limestone. It’s not Atlas. It’s not Prometheus. It’s the people there and the reason they come.”
Speyer continued: “Some come to work. Others come to ice skate, or to see the Christmas tree, or to go ballroom dancing or watch a show or eat at one of the great restaurants. In other words people from New York and from around the world come to Rockefeller Center to work and to have fun. And to connect. And all of this on top of one of the city’s busiest subway stops.”
“Rockefeller Center is happy because more than just joining bricks with mortar, it connects people with other people,” he noted. “And those 2-and-a-half-billion people coming to our cities are going to look for happy buildings that connect them with each other.”
Speyer added that while Tishman Speyer is “lucky to own” Rockefeller Center, the “brilliance of the original vision” belongs to the Rockefeller family.
“They bet their entire family fortune, at the depth of the Great Depression, and set the standard for mixed-use development we use today — 80 years later,” Speyer said of the Rockefellers. “Described another way, they connected before connectivity was cool – or even a word.”