The Pool and GrillPhotography by Scott Frances • October 30, 2017
Designed in 1959 by Philip Johnson and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the Seagram Building, it was one of New York’s most illustrious restaurants of all time, but in 2016, the Four Seasons shuttered. To reimagine this fabled, power-lunch destination seemed unfathomable at the time, but Major Food Group was up for the challenge.
Once two rooms inside the restaurant, the Pool and the Grill “have different feelings and looks, and they deserved their own identities,” says managing partner Jeff Zalaznick of the now-separate seafood restaurant and steakhouse. “It was never right to us that they were one, and history showed the same.” With New York’s Selldorf Architects and William T. Georgis Architects at the helm of the landmark restoration and new look, original features such as Marie Nichols’ chain curtains are now spruced up and meld with touches of ombré horsehair and leather. “The approach was to restore the luster, respect the historical fabric, and infuse them with new life,” says Georgis. In the Grill, the same Mies van der Rohe furniture was used but in bronze, and a carpet from the period by artist Van Day Truex was laid. The most significant change is at the mezzanine, where a bespoke banquette and tables pushed to the balcony offer box-seat views.
Through a grand hallway defined by a soaring plant sculpture by Paula Hayes, guests find the aquatic themed Pool, where Alexander Calder’s “Three Segments” mobile above the room’s signature pool pops against a vortex of blue and pearlescent hues and original classic furniture redone in velvet and leather. Once a closed off elevated private dining room, the Pool Lounge is a new destination: a mother-of-pearl and platinum brush-stroked bar by artist Nancy Lorenz is accentuated by gray tub chairs and nickel-and-onyx cocktail tables (all custom by Georgis); and four large mirrors hang on a commissioned wallcovering fashioned from wool, linen, and silver and reflect the energy of the main dining room below. “We dropped ink on Japanese paper to create an aqueous world for the carpet,” says Georgis of the Pool’s unifying element, “so that diners can feel they found the lost world of Atlantis.”