WALLACE KIRKMAN HARRISON
Harrison took classes in engineering at Worcester
Polytechnic Institute and in architecture at the Boston
Architectural Club; he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts
in the early 1920s and won the Rotch Taveling Scholarship in
1922. He worked for McKim, Mead & White and Bertram
Grovesnor Goodhue from 1916 to 1923, and later formed a
series of architectural partnerships. His brother-in-law was
married to John D. Rockefeller Jr's daughter, Abigail, and
Harrison served as a designer and architectural adviser for
Nelson Rockefeller, notably when Rockefeller was governor of
Harrison started his professional career with the firm of
Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray, participating in the
construction of Rockefeller Center. In 1941, Harrison
joined with Max Abramowitz to form Harrison & Abramowitz,
designing scores of university and corporate buildings,
including Time Life (1959) and Socony-Mobil (1956).
Among Harrison's most noted projects are the Metropolitan
Opera House at the Lincoln Center
and the Empire State Plaza in Albany; Director of Planning
on the United Nations complex, which was built on property
contributed by the Rockefeller family; master planner and
supervising architect for the World's Fairs of 1939 and 1964
and LaGuardia and Idlewild (now JFK) airport.
Harrison was a member of the US Commission of Fine Arts
from 1955 to 1959. In 1967, Harrison received the AIA Gold
Harrison's architectural drawings and archives are held by
the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia
Harrison was married to Ellen Hunt Milton in 1926. They had
a daughter, Sarah, and lived in Manhattan and Seal Harbor,
Maine. Bio adapted from Wikipedia.
1931 - The Wallace and
Ellen Harrison Summer House,
140 Round Swamp Road, West
Hills NY. 11 acres. Included a 32-foot circular living room
that is rumored to have been the prototype for the Rainbow
Room in Rockefeller Center. Fernand Léger created a large
mural for the home's circular living room and sculpted an
abstract form to serve as a skylight. Alexander Calder's
first show is said to have taken place at the home. Frequent
visitors and guests included Nelson Rockefeller, Robert
Moses, Marc Chagall, and Lecorbusier.
Shortly after purchasing the property in 1931,
Harrison bought the Aluminaire House designed by
and A. Lawrence Kocher and relocated it to the property.
There is a guest house, too, aka the Tin House. Photos by
Sold in 1974 to Hester Diamond who
placed the estate on the National Register of Historic
Places. Sold in 1984 and about eight acres were sold off to form a
subdivision called Laurel View Estates. Sold in 2003 and
restored, winning the 2010 AIA Long Island Archi
1936 - The Albert Fink Milton House,
69 Painter Ridge Road, Washington CT.
Brother of David Milton, below. Sold
in 2001 to Elliott and Karen Davis. For sale in 2018.
1936 - The Rockefeller Apartments,
17 West 54th Street, New
York NY. Designed with Andre Fouilhoux.
Originally 138 units, later converted into a 70-unit co-op,
then renovated in 1997 by architect William Leggio.
Renovated in 2008.
1938 - The Julian and Narcissa Street Jr. House,
710 Long Hill Road, West Briarcliff
Manor NY. Completed in March 1938, this house was designed with local
fieldstone in the shape of a L using steel beams in the roofs of the house
and garage. Forty five years later, Street remarked that "it worked
marvelously." Sold in 1974 to Howard and Janette Tomkins. Sold
in the late 1970's to the Birnbaum family. Sold in 2001 to Robert
Niosi and Sally Lee, who expanded the kitchen, renovated the master bedroom
and made other interior changes, and left the exterior relatively unchanged,
including the round windows. Niosi is an artist and filmmaker who
designed a replica of a time machine (last photo). For sale in 2018.
1939 - The Nelson Rockefeller Cottage, aka The Anchorage,
Crowninshield Point, Mt. Desert Island, Seal Harbor ME.
Designed with Andre Fouilhoux. Nelson's brother David
Rockefeller had a house just across from his.
1939 - The David and Abigail (Abby)(Rockefeller) Milton
House, aka Round House, Tucker's Town, Bermuda.
Commissioned 1936. For sale in 1984. Destroyed around 1997.
1939 - The Hawes Guest House, Pocantico NY, aka the Davids/Stephens/Hawes/Rockefeller Houses. In 1939
Nelson Rockefeller commissioned Harrison to build a Modernist guesthouse
next to the Hawes house. The guesthouse was divided between the circular
living room and the bedrooms by an open passageway. The abstract shape of
roofs cutout opening was designed by artist Fernand Leger. Photos by
Rockefeller Archive Center and an article by Lucas Buresh.
Early 1940's - The William A. M. Burden House, Mt. Kisco NY.
Several plans over a period of 10 years, all unbuilt.
1943 - The Clinton Hill Coops,
Brooklyn NY. a 12-building coop complex split between two
campuses along Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn to house Brooklyn
Navy Yards workers.
1944 - The Fort Greene Housing Project, aka Walt Whitman
Houses and Raymond Ingersoll Houses, Myrtle to Park Avenues,
Carlton Avenue to Prince Street, West Central Brooklyn NY.
Designed with Andre Fouilhoux. 3500 on 38 acres
completed during World War II as high priority housing for
Brooklyn's wartime industrial labor force. Several
architects were involved including Rosario Candela, and Ely
1947 - The William A. M. Burden Estate, aka Sea Change,
Corning Way, Northeast Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Seal
Harbor ME. Designed with Andre
Japanese artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi. B/W
photos by Tom Leonard. Additions in 1956 and 1980. Harrison
also remodeled the 3 guest cottages on the property.
In the early 1960's two of the cottages were connected and
modifications made by architect William F. Pedersen, who
also designed a 24 bed reinforced concrete bomb shelter.
Fire in 1999 destroyed the main house. Rebuilt in 2005
by architect Heinrich Hermann. Listed on the National
Register of Historic Places in 2009. Featured in Progressive
Architecture, April 1950, pages 68-70.
Burden's youngest son and daughter-in-law.
1948 - The William A. M. Burden House, Florida. Unbuilt.
1948 - The IBEC Housing Project, Puerto Rico and other
countries. Nelson Rockefeller hired Harrison in 1948
to create the International Basic Economy Corporation in
order to build profitable housing projects in Latin America.
After visiting several areas Harrison returned to New York
and began working out the details of a simple box plan.
The experiments eventually became the IBEC Method and one of
the first housing projects was started in San Juan. Villa
Las Lomas was a 1500 home project that began in 1954.
With the method Harrison put together, they were able to
construct 6 homes a day, two basic models with 3 different
facades. IBEC followed this with similar developments in
Chile, Peru, and Iran. In the early 1960's, the
Housing Investment Guaranty Program was passed which aided
private housing projects built by U. S. developers in Latin
America. Above are photos of three of Harrison's
houses in Puerto Rico.
1950 - The Alcoa Guest House. Preliminary drawings for a 6 room circular,
cantilevered house. Unbuilt.
1955 - The Morningside Gardens Apartments, LaSalle and 123rd Street, New York
NY. Six multi-story buildings, cast concrete construction, with red
brick bonded masonry walls. A total of 980 apartments. Beginning
in 2007, CTA Architects did an exterior renovation.
1959 - The Nelson Rockefeller House #2, aka Hunting Lodge, Pocantico Hills
Unknown date - Addition to the Pardee House, Bermuda.
Unsure if built.
Around 1975 - The Johnson House, aka the Jasna Polana
Mansion, Princeton NJ.
Became a golf course clubhouse in 1998.