Born in Brooklyn, NYC, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris before setting up his practice in NYC. The firm became known for its very tall commercial buildings in which the Classical allusims to base, shaft, and capital were abandoned. Van Alen's most celebrated work is the Chrysler Building, NYC (1928–30), a monument not only to Walter P. Chrysler (1875–1940), but also to corporate advertising. The Art Deco upper part of this skyscraper incorporates eagle-head and radiator-cap gargoyles as well as a series of semicircular forms recalling hub-caps.
Bletter & Robinson (1975);Nat. Inst. for Arch. Education (1964);Placzek (ed.) (1982)