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McGraw-Hill Building

A black print on yellowed paper of the lower half of the building under construction viewed from the street. The lower stories of the skyscraper, with windows and terra cotta cladding, are light and stand in contrast to the dark, two and three story buildings in the foreground. The upper stories visible do not have windows or cladding and al that is visible is the steel frame of the skyscraper. Construction tarps and canvasses billow in the breeze surrounded by a cloudy, smoky sky.

Donald Douglas, 1899–1971
McGraw-Hill Building under construction, c. 1930
Etching and aquatint
11" × 11"
Raymond Mathewson Hood papers, 1903–1931, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

The emphasis on horizontal lines and large dramatic windows was unique among New York skyscrapers and captured the attention of curators at the Museum of Modern Art, who included the McGraw-Hill Building in their famous 1932 exhibition on modern architecture.

Hood’s skyscraper exhibited features of the so-called International Style, such as the crisp, precise lines and horizontal bands of windows that extended around the corners—only made possible by the use of an internal steel frame.

This etching shows sections of the steel frame both before and after it is wrapped in glass and terra cotta.