Four Seasons Restaurant Is Awarded The First Ever James Beard Design Icon Restaurant Award

The James Beard Foundation is adding a new award to be presented at this year's annual awards gala, honoring an icon of restaurant design.

The inaugural design icon award will be given this year to the Four Seasons Restaurant. The classic New York City restaurant opened in 1959 and its characteristic luxurious design has persisted through the decades: a bubbling white pool in the middle of the dining room, flanked by four trees that change with each season and floor-to-ceiling paneled windows.

A qualifying restaurant must have a design that has remained largely unchanged for 20 years that has influenced other restaurants. The Four Seasons owners and fans have fought to keep the restaurant's look exactly the way it is, and the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission recently ruled that even minor changes could not be made inside the New York culinary mainstay.

"We are deeply humbled to be the recipients of this award and grateful to have spent so many years in such a beautiful restaurant," said Four Season Restaurant owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder. "James Beard was one of The Four Seasons' greatest champions when it opened back in 1959, and we're honored to see that come full circle by accepting this great honor in his name."

The Four Seasons Restaurant was originally designed by Philip Johnson and building architect Mies van der Rohe for design director Phyllis Bronfman Lambert. According to the James Beard Foundation, the cost of the restaurant's interior design was "unprecedented at the time." The restaurant has repeatedly housed classic artwork including a 95-year-old Picasso curtain, which was just removed recently.

The Four Seasons Restaurant and its owners will be presented with this prestigious award at The James Beard Awards Gala at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 2.