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Let's travel back to the 1960s—a time when everything was in grayscale—and breathe in a bit of the decadent air suffusing Don Draper's work life. Looks like that fellow on the right needs a break—so let's stretch our legs and take a stroll around the office with him.
Let's travel back to the 1960s—a time when everything was in grayscale—and breathe in a bit of the decadent air suffusing Don Draper's work life. Looks like that fellow on the right needs a break—so let's stretch our legs and take a stroll around the office with him.Courtesy of Time Inc. Archives
Let's travel back to the 1960s—a time when everything was in grayscale—and breathe in a bit of the decadent air suffusing Don Draper's work life. Looks like that fellow on the right needs a break—so let's stretch our legs and take a stroll around the office with him.
Here we see an art department hard at work. The work rooms, like the rest of the building—both inside and out—represented the epitome of mid-century Modernism: clean lines, rejection of ornamentation, and a mix of streamlined materials such as stainless steel and prefab walls.
Although the office's design mirrored Modernism's celebration of function over form, it also represented what was the most decadent and sought-after in the era's aesthetic. For instance, the reception lounges outside of the work spaces were luxurious, sleek and inviting.
Even just waiting for the elevator to arrive was a transcendent and striking visual experience, from floor to ceiling.
Workers could swing by the first floor of the building for lunch at La Fonda del Sol, a Latin-American themed restaurant designed by Alexander Girard, supplemented with Eames furnishings.
Servers presented a cornucopia of dishes and lavish cuts of meat to guests in front of a mod, typographically embellished wall.
Its proximity to the offices certainly allows for power lunches with important clients and guests.
Anyway, it's time to get back to business, but let's take a moment to marvel at the ceiling of this elevator bank.
On to the next meeting— but let's take a moment to gaze at this gleaming space-age lobby ...
... and then head into the building's auditorium, where screenings and large-scale presentations take place.
Yep, bumping shoulders with soon-to-be presidents ("Oh, hey there, JFK!") roaming the halls of the building. Just another day at work.
Eames was commissioned to design this particular reception space and it features specially designed furnishings for the building. The stool on the left and the appropriately named Time-Life Chair on the right are still in production today through Herman Miller.
Here's Editor-in-Chief Henry Luce's handsomely minimal office, featuring a wall-sized world map.
Technicians at LIFE magazine processed incoming film from around the world at the labs housed within the building.
Before email, dispatches from an international network of stringers and reporters would arrive around the clock to the machines in this room, which were then sent to editors at TIME.
Here in this conference room, a couple of LIFE magazine staffers discuss the pages in layouts.
Time for a break from work again—let's wander around the ground floor lobby and check out what's going on there.
You can marvel at this mural, "Relational Painting #88", by painter Fritz Glarner.
...or check out an exhibit of Alfred Eisenstaedt's photographs hanging on the walls of the lobby.
...or lounge around by the window and watch the folks waiting in line in front of Radio City.
... or even head to the reading room in the mezzanine to have a little bit of quiet time.
Grab a seat outside for a little bit of sun. (Note the Don Draper look-alike on the right.)
Not that we recommend it, but you could go a little wild and dip your feet in the fountains outside the building. (Notice the businesses across the street: a cafeteria, a tailoring shop and a bar—pretty much all you need to get through the day: a little bit of food, a well-fitted suit and a stiff drink.)
If the streets just don't cut it for you—you can head back in the building to the top floor and grab a bite at the Hemisphere Club. (During the day, it's exclusive to those who work in the building.)
If the day's a bit rough, grab a drink at the bar.
The club's got fantastic views of city. Central Park's to the north ...
... and the Empire State Building is to the south.
The Time-Life Building—definitely a handsome place to work. (That's it, in the middle in this picture.) Thanks for visiting!
Let's travel back to the 1960s—a time when everything was in grayscale—and breathe in a bit of the decadent air suffusin
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Courtesy of Time Inc. Archives
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Through Don Draper’s Eyes: A Tour of the Time & Life Building of the 1960s

Mar 27, 2014

In anticipation of the Mad Men season 6 premiere on AMC this Sunday night, TIME brings to you a rare insider’s tour of the Time & Life Building in the 1960s—the setting of everyone’s favorite mid-century ad agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The Time & Life Building, designed by the Rockefeller family’s architects, Harrison & Abramowitz & Harris, opened in 1959, meaning that Don Draper et al. were some of its earliest (fictional) occupants. Time Inc. magazines like TIME, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated still call the building home—but it must be said that, six decades later, hardly anything seen there today can match the sleek, ambitious style that defined the place, and the people who worked there, when 1271 Avenue of the Americas first opened its doors.

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