Emery Roth and Sons (1960s)


  • Architect

NC Work Locations:

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Modernist; International style

The New York architectural firm of Emery Roth and Sons figured among the city’s leading architects of the mid-20th century, specializing in the curtain wall skyscraper designs that represented the sleek modern esthetic influenced by Mies van der Rohe. The firm’s only known commission in North Carolina is the Branch Bank and Trust Building (1963-1965) in downtown Raleigh. The local architect was G. Milton Small, Jr., the state’s premier architect in the Miesian mode.

Although the Roth firm’s work was abundant in New York, as were modernist skyscrapers, in Raleigh in the early 1960s the sophisticated and well-proportioned skyscraper was a striking statement of modernity and urban sensibility, which affirmed the ambitious North Carolina bank’s place in the larger world of finance. It remains an important landmark of the city today.

According to Wikipedia, Emery Roth was an American architect of Jewish Hungarian background who designed important New York City hotels and apartment houses of the 1920s and 1930s. His sons, Julian and Richard, also worked for the firm, but it was not until 1947, approximately a year before the father’s death, that the firm’s name was changed to Emery Roth and Sons. In the 1950s and 1960s Emery Roth and Sons (actually just the sons) became one of the most influential architectural firms in New York and contributed substantially the appearance of midtown and lower Manhattan; the firm was known especially for planning skyscrapers with curtain wall facades, which soon became a ubiquitous feature of the city. During the 1960s and early 1970s the firm was involved in such large scale projects as Pan Am Building and the World Trade Center. In the early 1960s, Richard Roth, Jr., became the third generation to join the firm, eventually rising to chief architect and CEO. The firm expanded and diversified, remaining a family business until it ceased to operate in 1996. The architectural records and papers of both Emery Roth and Emery Roth and Sons are held in the Avery Library at Columbia University.

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  • Branch Bank and Trust

    Emery Roth and Sons, architects; G. Milton Small Jr., local architect
    Variant Name(s):

    BB&T; Capital Bank



    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NC






    According to G. Milton Small III, the shell of the skyscraper was designed by Emory Roth Architects in New York City (who Small III believes also did construction documents for many of Mies’s buildings), while G. Milton Small Jr. as a consultant to BB&T worked with Roth during the shell design and provided the interior design for all the banking floors. The Wilson-based BB&T company wanted to establish its headquarters and its position in Raleigh with a skyscraper akin to those in Manhattan, influenced by Mies van der Rohe’s famed Seagram Building of 1958. Although the banking floor was redesigned in 1998, the building maintains its character as a defining landmark of Raleigh’s main street. A copy of the drawings is held by Special Collections, NC State University Libraries. The postcard view show the building on the right.

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