Through Don Draper’s Eyes: A Tour of the Time-Life Building of the Sixties

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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.

 

 

Editor’s note: the architects of the building has been corrected to design firm Harrison & Abramowitz & Harris

More Photography from Time

8 comments
k.carbonneau
k.carbonneau

modernism was awful then. it's awful now. 

jamesroth
jamesroth

Moving away from modernism was a huge mistake. Today's offices are so depressing.

ricko
ricko like.author.displayName 1 Like

ricko

The days at Life were crazy but surely some of the best! 

ktfox425
ktfox425 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Those are wonderful pictures - thanks for sharing

bringsjord
bringsjord like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Reminds me of my days as a copyboy on the 25th floor in '71

costarama
costarama like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

The TimeLife building has a wonderful history for me personally. My father, Tad Leski, was the chief designer/architect in the firm and designed the T&L building. (He's still alive today) Wallace Harrison was his boss, our personal friend and next door neighbor. Also, in your photos you have the Glarner painting. The original small rendition of this painting was found by my mother in our house and I sold it to Hester Diamond, a notable art dealer. That paid for me to start college. Years later, I found myself working at Time (12 years) on the 27th floor with a wonderful office and Fortune/Money later on the 25th floor. 

In the earlier years at TIME, the lush benefits: lunches that can't compare these days, parties and business trips for the company made work/pleasure unforgettable.

DanielWreaks
DanielWreaks

@costarama wow the whole building reminds me of the old Doris Day, Rock Hudson era and your story is wonderful. The large mural in the lobby is very Piet Mondrian like.

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alexc.goolsby
alexc.goolsby like.author.displayName 1 Like

Really extraordinary pictures. Of course spoiling the otherwise striking aesthetics were the poisonous vapors from the always burning cancer sticks which were also slowly killing everyone. Aside from that going to the office in those days must have been kinda nice.