When Laurence Tisch became CEO of CBS in 1986, he started cutting costs everywhere from the mailroom to the newsroom. Even the cafeteria wasn’t safe. That’s where the proverbial knife fell on a landmark typographic installation: the now-legendary “Gastrotypographicalassemblage”—the Great Wall of CBS—that had hung for more than 20 years.
At 35 feet wide by 8.5 feet tall, this three-dimensional mural designed by CBS design director Lou Dorfsman and the typographic maestros Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase took over one entire cafeteria wall of Eero Saarinen’s Black Rock, the CBS Building on Sixth Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets. Dorfsman considered this massive frieze of custom-milled woodtype spelling out foods and food groups—from lamb chops to hasenpfeffer—his magnum opus, “his gift to the world.”