View Full Version : 55 Water Street: New Plaza Designs

November 30th, 2002, 08:38 AM
The elevated public plaza at 55 Water street now.


Renderings of new design:

View of proposed plaza entry from Old Slip, to the north.


View of the redesigned entry from Water Street.


Proposed ice rink.


View of proposed landscaping, looking east.


View of escarpment.


November 30th, 2002, 01:00 PM
If only the building could be reclad, too.

December 2nd, 2002, 11:01 AM
Anything will be an improvement, especially with regard to access to the plaza. Now, even when walking by it no one knows it's there.

December 2nd, 2002, 11:52 AM
I really like it. Actually, I'd like anything new down there, save for Gehry's Guggenheim. Nevertheless, the project looks pretty interesting, and it would probably be a great addition to the Water Street area.

NYC kid
December 3rd, 2002, 05:53 PM
Heh, I like it too. But the building itself is still horrible.

TLOZ Link5
December 3rd, 2002, 07:50 PM
Yeah, it'd be nice if they could reclad the building itself, like Fabb said before.

August 5th, 2005, 03:22 PM
Rogers Marvel Architects (2002)

I was walking by here today and noticed that the steps are no longer blocked-off. I took the opportunity to take some photos:

Construction workers look friendly enough; I think I'll go on up for a better view.



August 5th, 2005, 03:24 PM
More pics:







August 5th, 2005, 03:28 PM
And even more pics:











August 5th, 2005, 03:30 PM
Bored yet? No? Good, then here are some more.





Not sure how much longer construction will last on this. Does anyone know if the connection down to Old Slip is still part of the project? I didn't see any provisions for it.

August 5th, 2005, 03:52 PM
May 20-26, 2003

Work readies to spruce up Water St. plaza

By Jane Flanagan

Most people walking by don’t know that the long, outdoor escalator at 55 Water St. just south of Wall St., leads to a park with a gorgeous view of the East River. Even if they do know, few are tempted to use it. The park is all but devoid of greenery; it is, instead, a mass of dingy concrete. In addition, all that protects parkgoers – notably small children – from a 50-foot drop to the F.D.R, is a single, thin chord.

All that is about to change.

Work will soon begin to transform the elevated plaza into a lushly landscaped park with a 7,000 square foot, hopefully, grass plaza. It will also include a tower, surrounded by ramps to afford even better views of the river. The tower, known as “the beacon,” will shine light on the park for evening concerts and other events.

“It won’t be the great lawn at Central Park, but for the Financial District it will be pretty nice,” said Ken Smith, the project’s landscape architect.

Benches as well as moveable tables and chairs will also be installed.

Smith said that he hopes people will use it the way they do Bryant Park for eating lunch and enjoying local events like those sponsored by the Tribeca Film Festival.

The architects indicated that it’s not absolutely certain that grass is feasible for the upper-story plaza but said they are making every effort to use it. Ray O’Keefe, chairperson of C.B. 1’s Financial District Committee, where the architects presented the plans last week, said the issue was a key one.

“The material is going to be very important,” said O’Keefe. “If you have a hard surface, not only is it ugly, but skateboarders will use it,” he said.

This park is unusual in that it is two stories above ground level, something of a barrier to attracting passersby. The architects are hoping to attract them by transforming the existing staircase into a series of steps broken up by attractive landscaped plateaus. The escalators will continue to operate and the park will be will be handicap accessible via elevators inside the building.

The park will also cantilever out over the F.D.R. affording both more square footage and some degree of soundproofing. The flimsy railings will also be replaced.

O’Keefe inquired about the success of other raised parks.

“When this one is finished, it will be the first raised park,” laughed Smith.

O’Keefe applauded the design.

“It’s a difficult space,” he said. “From what I’ve seen you have worked very creatively to make it the best it can be. And you are not doing it cheaply. I think that’s laudable,” he said.

Work will begin in a few weeks and will take approximately 15 months to complete. It is scheduled to open in July 2004 and will be closed throughout the construction.

August 5th, 2005, 04:15 PM
Does the glass thing have a function?


The beacon thing - got it.


August 5th, 2005, 08:23 PM
The terraced part of the building is cool and the plaza will be another nice open space downtown to just gaze and awe at whats around you.......but the main building sucks. Most would agree. But for the things I mentioned it's better than its neighbor NY Plaza.

When's construction going to be done?

August 5th, 2005, 08:58 PM
Stern: Excellent Covert Action on your part!!

If anyone has a soccer ball I say we meet this weekend for a match.

This is such a great improvement over what used to be up there.

August 5th, 2005, 09:49 PM
Stern: Excellent Covert Action on your part!!

If anyone has a soccer ball I say we meet this weekend for a match.

This is such a great improvement over what used to be up there.

Thanks. I’d be interested in a baseball game, I’m not into soccer.

On a side note this revamped plaza effectively kills a 500,000 sq.ft. addition to 55 Water Street. I wonder if the air rights could be transferred to another nearby site and allow for a slender residential tower, either to the waterfront or the firehouse to the north.

August 8th, 2005, 09:22 AM
On a side note this revamped plaza effectively kills a 500,000 sq.ft. addition to 55 Water Street.

1 MARCH 2001

The investment bankers Goldman Sachs are planning to replace the elevated plaza at 55 Water Street (http://www.greatgridlock.net/NYC/nyc3b.html#74) with a new addition including several large trading floors. The development would use air rights transferred all the way from the South Street Seaport district.
"To build the new 13-story, 750,000- square-foot [69,700 m²] trading structure, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Goldman Sachs would eliminate the elevated plaza and alter the north tower, adding 35 feet to its height. The trading floors would have 56,000 square feet [5,200 m²], an extraordinary amount of room in the cramped financial district."And as usual, the city and state will be milked for corporate welfare.
"The project's cost has been estimated at $850 million. The company might apply for financial incentives from the city and state. Completion of the building is expected at the end of 2004."
The banking firm has already leased spaces from a host of buildings across the Financial District.
"Besides the headquarters at 85 Broad Street (http://www.greatgridlock.net/NYC/nyc4.html#81), Goldman Sachs leases large blocks at 10 Hanover Square, 1 Liberty Plaza (http://www.greatgridlock.net/NYC/nyc3b.html#68), 180 Maiden Lane, 1 New York Plaza (http://www.greatgridlock.net/NYC/nyc3a.html#61), 32 Old Slip (http://www.greatgridlock.net/NYC/nyc4a.html#84b) and 77 Water Street (http://www.greatgridlock.net/NYC/nyc3a.html#62b)."
The company is proposing to provide funds for neighbourhood improvements.
"To make up for the loss of open space, Goldman Sachs would pay for $5 million in improvements nearby. It would furnish a 1,300-foot stretch of East River esplanade, from Old Slip to the Battery Maritime Building, with a bike path, a walkway and seating; landscape a barren public area in front of 55 Water Street; and contribute to the renovation of Vietnam Veterans Plaza on the south side of the tower."
A part of a futuristic plan, the plaza hasn't been a total success, not least due to owners' actions through the years.
"Fifty-four steps above street level — and even farther off the beaten path — the plaza is one of the largest privately owned public spaces in New York."
"Escalators to the plaza have frequently not worked in the past (and were not operating yesterday and Monday). In the 1980's, when 55 Water Street was owned by Olympia & York, stairways to the plaza were barricaded for years."
"Today, it is isolated, barren, usually deserted and sometimes downright scary. A concession stand has long since been boarded up and the fountains silenced."
(I can agree on the scary part, while taking the plaza image (http://www.greatgridlock.net/NYC_Images/uris3.html) last May, I was definitely working faster than normally...)
But the residents in the 205 co-ops of the 3 Hanover Square are against the proposition, partly because of lost river views.

""It is somewhat ironic [...] that part of the reward for neglecting a public plaza is giving the ownership the right to not only eliminate the public space but to add a 750,000- square-foot building on the site.""

Source: The New York Times, 28 February 2001

7 Mar:

The tower plans have been swiftly reversed and Goldman Sachs will let the lease fall through.
"The company's withdrawal puts 1.38 million square feet at 55 Water Street back on the market — more space than in the entire Chrysler Building. It will be vacated in 2003 by J. P. Morgan Chase & Company."
The owner of the building is expecting to get the space easily sold nevertheless:
"Other prospective tenants have already spoken up since Goldman Sachs made its decision known on Monday evening, said Edward J. Kulik Jr., the head of real estate for the Retirement Systems of Alabama, which manages the state's pension programs and owns 55 Water Street."
The owners haven't, however, completely ruled out a later-day tower addition to the plaza.

Source: The New York Times, 7 March 2001


Community Meeting June 26 on 55 Water St. Plaza Redesign

A year after Goldman Sachs abandoned its controversial plan to construct a building on the elevated public plaza behind 55 Water St., now the city’s most massive office tower, the complex’s owners have decided to redesign the plaza into "a vital destination that contributes to the cultural life of Lower Manhattan."

The owner, the Retirement System of Alabama, is sponsoring a design competition with the Municipal Art Society to come up with a plan to make the isolated, unadorned plaza into an attractive public amenity for Downtown residents, workers and tourists.

To solicit input from Downtown residents, the owner and the Municipal Art Society, together with Community Board 1 and the Alliance for Downtown New York, are hosting a community meeting on June 26 at 6 p.m., in the conference center on the concourse level of 55 Water St.

Residents are invited to hear the owner’s plans for the plaza and to share their input on what they would like to see in the 41,000-square-foot space, which commands views of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and Governor’s Island. Anyone interested in attending should contact Mandy Knox at the New Water Street Corp. (which manages the building for the owner), at 747-9120 or mknox@55water.com (mknox@55water.com).

The deadline for preliminary submissions from architects and urban planners is July 8. Six finalists will be selected in July and given $10,000 stipends to come up with more refined plans by mid-September, and a winner will be chosen in late September. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2003.

More information on the project and the design competition can be found on the Municipal Art Society’s website (http://www.mas.org/).

October 19th, 2005, 09:16 AM
New York Times
October 19, 2005

An Elevated Plaza Finally Worth Going Up to See


With the moon floating over Brooklyn, the enormous lantern at the end of the boardwalk at 55 Water Street assumes its place in the East River's nocturnal landscape.

Lower Manhattan, a place of brooding valleys, has reclaimed a precious slice of sky.

This silvery harbor sky unfolds over a gentle dunelike hillock, with a boardwalk at its crest, on a one-acre public plaza more than 30 feet in the air over the East River waterfront. The elevated plaza at 55 Water Street, one of the largest and least-loved privately owned public spaces in New York, is to be rededicated tonight after a three-year, $7 million renovation.

Marking the new plaza in the cityscape is a 50-foot-high lantern of translucent glass bands, illuminated from within by light-emitting diodes and visible from Brooklyn Heights, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway; from the heliport at Pier 6, the ferry landing at Pier 11 and the square-rigged Wavertree sailing ship south of Pier 16; from Governors Island, Old Slip and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive.

The renovation was overdue.

The 55 Water Street plaza, which opened in 1972, was so plagued by Spartan design, poor planning and indifferent maintenance that few protests greeted a plan in early 2001 by Goldman Sachs to replace the landscaped area with a new building.

"When the public could care less about putting a box on it filled with Goldman traders, you knew it was depressing," said David G. Bronner, chief executive of Retirement Systems of Alabama, the state pension fund that has owned 55 Water Street, New York's largest office building, since 1993. After Goldman decided not to build there after all, the pension fund decided to revive the plaza. In 2002, in cooperation with the Municipal Art Society, a civic group whose concerns include public space, the landlord sponsored a design competition.

Rogers Marvel Architects and Ken Smith Landscape Architect won.

Their work was cut out for them, beginning with the street-level entrance to the plaza, sandwiched between the 13-story north building of 55 Water Street, now occupied entirely by HIP Health Plan of New York, and the 54-story south tower.

Here were long escalators and a staircase that offered no clue to passers-by that they were welcome upstairs or would be rewarded by an ascent.

Those intrepid enough to go up anyway were greeted by a brickyard. A flat, empty space was embraced by a semicircular curving brick wall that blocked the remarkable view. Above and beyond that was a terrace with two dozen trees, reached by narrow staircases at either end, from which one could finally see the East River panorama.

At one time, there were at least a few amenities - like a concession stand, pools and fountains - as part of the trade-off under which the elevated plaza yielded a 410,000-square-foot development bonus (roughly six and a half tower floors). But the stand was shuttered, the pools were emptied and, under the ownership of Olympia & York in the 1980's, the whole plaza was closed to the public for several years.

To lure people back, the architects have radically altered the Water Street approach, replacing the long escalator and staircase with a series of four smaller stairways and four shorter escalators, better lit and punctuated by terraces and overlooks.

"The designers have transformed a forbidding escalator into a celebratory and wonderfully imaginative ascent," said Amanda M. Burden, the chairwoman of the City Planning Commission.

At the top of the steps (the plaza can also be reached by elevator through the lobby), visitors are now greeted by a gently inclined surface that appears to be a dune, dotted with honey locusts and black locusts and ornamental grasses.

At the top of the dune is a boardwalk, paralleling the East River, made of broad planks of ipe, a Brazilian hardwood. Through the stainless-steel cable balustrade, sunlight sparkles on the choppy waters below.

"You come here and it celebrates something: New York City," said Jonathan Marvel of Rogers Marvel. "The whole ascent is part of the drama of having a new horizon line as you reach the top."

The boardwalk leads up to the lantern, called the Beacon of Progress, at the far corner of the plaza. Though contemporary in design, it recalls the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse that once stood on this block, atop the Seamen's Church Institute.

"It marks the site again with a consequential feature," said Rob Rogers of Rogers Marvel. (The lighthouse was moved to the South Street Seaport Museum after the institute's building was razed to make way for 55 Water Street.)

One more surprise is in store: a seven-tiered concrete amphitheater forming an L around a large lawn blanketed in an artificial grass made by FieldTurf.

"You can do a lot in an acre," said the landscape architect, Ken Smith.

The lawn takes the place of what was to have been an ice-skating rink. That, and a 100-person elevator, were eliminated from the project because of cost.

Under its agreement with the City Planning Commission, the landlord will sponsor at least 12 public events a year on the plaza. "We envision people throwing blankets on the turf and we'll do movies for them," said Harry A. Bridgwood, executive vice president of the New Water Street Corporation, a subsidiary of the pension fund. A food cart will arrive next spring. In addition to the benches, there will be 80 movable chairs and 20 tables.

Frank E. Sanchis III, senior vice president of the Municipal Art Society, admired the view of Governors Island yesterday morning. "It's a million times better than it was," he said of the plaza. "This is a perfect example of a beautifully designed privately owned public space. But we also need to provide them with activities so that the public uses them and gets used to using them."

New Yorkers can find their own uses, too. The lighting consultant, Jim Conti, was working inside the lantern one evening last week when he emerged to find a couple on the boardwalk - thinking they were unobserved - holding hands and kissing tenderly.

"I wonder," said Vincent M. Lee, the project architect for Rogers Marvel, "when the last time there was a moment like that on the plaza at 55 Water."


Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

October 19th, 2005, 12:01 PM
From Tropolism (http://www.tropolism.com/):


October 19th, 2005, 12:39 PM
Beacon of Progress - the 50-foot-high lantern of translucent glass bands, illuminated from within by light-emitting diodes on the elevated plaza at 55 Water Street.


October 19th, 2005, 01:07 PM
It looks grotesquely out of place. It's like a garish lava lamp in a morgue.

October 19th, 2005, 01:12 PM
Why is this called the beacon of PROGRESS?

Why is it that strange color?

Why are there shrubs instead of trees?

Why are there only a few benches?

If 55 was trying to make themselves a Winter Garden-ish type public activity place they've failed miserably, nothing like some peace and quiet right atop the FDR.

October 19th, 2005, 01:14 PM
Yet another vastly improved park. I like the Beacon of Progress, an eye-catcher for an inconspicuous park.

October 19th, 2005, 02:11 PM
Plus when the improvements of the East River Esplanade are built down below at street level then the new "Beacon" will not seem so out of place.

October 19th, 2005, 03:11 PM
Looks good to me. I mean, it's not spectacular, but it's a lot nicer than it was before. I see many benches along the boardwalk. And the boardwalk itself is a nice addition, allowing you to go out to the edge a take in views of the bridges. I like the way the concrete walkways mimic the look of the boardwalk.

October 19th, 2005, 08:17 PM
Plus when the improvements of the East River Esplanade are built down below at street level then the new "Beacon" will not seem so out of place.

Egad, what does this mean...more neon pink?

October 19th, 2005, 08:55 PM
Does that night-time scene above really need an in-your-face pink wall of lights? It looks like the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

"Beacon of Progress" is even cornier than "Freedom Tower".

October 19th, 2005, 09:09 PM
Egad, what does this mean...more neon pink?
Not necessarily more pink, but definitely more light (this is the area just beneath 55 Water St.) ...

Improved East River Waterfront Esplanade with pavilions and FDR cladding
(Image courtesy of SHoP:Property of the City of New York)

October 19th, 2005, 09:53 PM
It looks like the interior of Penn Station without walls. And what's with the boxed-in ballerinas?

October 19th, 2005, 10:07 PM
For more info on East River plan go here: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=35472&postcount=33

And the full plan at City Planning website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/erw/index.shtml

October 20th, 2005, 11:14 AM
"Beacon of Progress"
October 19, 2005

From Curbed (http://www.curbed.com/):

October 20th, 2005, 01:03 PM
From Tropolism (http://www.tropolism.com/):


October 20th, 2005, 04:26 PM
So at least it's not neon pink all the time...but the other colours aren't much better.

It really ought to have been considered for Times Square, or maybe the Meatpacking District, instead.

October 20th, 2005, 04:59 PM
The "Beacon of Progress"? I wonder who came up with that name and ...why?

( I can just hear the Circle Line guy pointing it out and people craning their necks and snapping photos like crazy.)

TLOZ Link5
October 20th, 2005, 07:21 PM
Wasn't something with that name planned for Chicago maybe a hundred years ago?


The Paris Salon of 1900 awarded its highest medal to MIT Professor Désiré Despradelle (Department of Architecture, 1893-1912) for his extravagant design for a proposed monument "dedicated to the glory of the American nation." Had he found sufficient backing for his "Beacon of Progress," the resulting structure would have been by far the tallest man-made object in the world.

Plans called for a 1500-foot stone tower in Jackson Park, Chicago, on the site of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, which had celebrated technological progress. The fair had inspired Despradelle with futuristic visions of the benefits to be drawn from technological leaps forward in the approaching century. He was likewise enthralled by Americans, whose "marvellous energy" was capable of "developing material things to a superlative degree." The giant tower, which he referred to as an "altar," would support a beacon light at its apex and have an amphitheater at its base, wherein leaders could impart "inspiring words" to assemblies in the room he called a "sanctuary." A series of elevators would carry visitors to observation balconies at different levels and up to the pinnacle itself.

The Beacon of Progress was said to be "of a grandeur of conception and of a daring in execution almost unparalleled." Drawings, such as the one reproduced here, are all that survive of Despradelle's grandiose scheme. They are themselves monuments to the spirit of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century science, which saw no limits to the heights to which scientific and technological advances could carry us.

From an account in The Technology Review, Vol. 2, No. 4, October 1900.

Well...am I the only one who's reminded of Barad-Dûr?

October 20th, 2005, 07:57 PM
OMG that would look absolutely sick on Governor's Island

looks like some evil temple of the devil, I love it!

October 20th, 2005, 08:15 PM
"The Beacon of Progress was said to be "of a grandeur of conception and of a daring in execution almost unparalleled." Drawings, such as the one reproduced here, are all that survive of Despradelle's grandiose scheme. They are themselves monuments to the spirit of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century science, which saw no limits to the heights to which scientific and technological advances could carry us."

It´s 2005 and our "Beacon of Progress" is a box decorated with pink neon.

October 20th, 2005, 08:26 PM
Maybe it's pink because it signifies the progress of gay rights and it will forever glow over Manhattan saying "give me your gay and your queer, your huddled masses yearning to huddle with other masses in bed."

The S&P guys at 55 Water are just screwing with us cuz they're sore they're not on Wall Str, so they devise this stupid thing that's completely useless. Actually there is an identical box on top of one of the shorter buildings near the Seaport that glows the same way but yellowish-white. Why is this Beacon of Progress down on the ground? If this is progress then we really haven't achieved much. My prediction: S&P will either take it down due to protest or due to high energy bills. Predicted life span: 3-5 years

TLOZ Link5
October 20th, 2005, 09:20 PM
I thought people cuddled in bed. :p

October 20th, 2005, 10:22 PM
I was referring to a gay orgy, thus a huddled mass of people, :D I don't want to think about this anymore.

Are there any signs there that let people know this is a public space? I mean people don't just naturally go climbing stairs into buildings looking for a park.

TLOZ Link5
October 20th, 2005, 10:30 PM
Still, gay people cuddle just like everyone. Okay, I'll stop :D

Yeah, we'll have to see if this plaza will really attract a lot of people. If it doesn't, it can still serve as a secret — er, hem — cuddle spot.

As for the Beacon: I suppose that its diminutiveness tells a lot about the designers' opinions on progress. The name does sound hokey, anyway. The "Water Street Beacon" would do well enough.

October 21st, 2005, 12:52 AM
I saw it from the N train going over the bridge it is very PINK! It has to be pissing off the snobs in Brooklyn Heights.

October 21st, 2005, 09:20 AM
Pink Power? The Power of Pink?

October 25th, 2005, 01:00 PM
Downtown Express
October 21 - 27, 2005

$7 million plaza reaching a higher level reopens

By Ellen Keohane

The new elevated plaza at 55 Water St. reopened Wednesday.
The plan features a Beacon, below left, that will be lit at night with different colors.


Walking by 55 Water St. in Lower Manhattan, there’s little evidence that a landscaped open space with trees, benches and a boardwalk exists just 30 feet above street level. But ascend a set of stairs or escalators, and you’ll discover a newly redesigned public park that delivers views of the East River, Governors Island, Brooklyn Heights and the Brooklyn Bridge.

“I think it’s going to be one of the most sought-after spaces in Lower Manhattan,” said Joel Kopel, a Community Board 1 member and resident of nearby 3 Hanover Square, which overlooks the plaza. “We’re very excited about it.”

As of Wednesday, “the Elevated Acre,” a newly renovated privately owned public space at 55 Water St., was officially opened to the public. The $7 million project has been in the works since 2002.

The project started with a design competition three years ago, hosted by the Municipal Art Society. Building owner Retirement Systems of Alabama, which handles retirement and insurance funds for an array of public employees, selected the Lower Manhattan-based firms Rogers Marvel Architects and Ken Smith Landscape Architects for the project out of more than 100 submissions.

When 55 Water St. opened in 1972, it was the largest privately owned office building in the world. Now, it is the second largest in the U.S. The site spans 3.7 acres and includes a 56-story north tower and a 15-story annex. All this space adds up to 3.6 million square feet of office space, which is occupied by eight tenants including Standard and Poor’s, Chubb Insurance and the Health Insurance Plan of New York, said the building’s senior vice president Edward J. Kulik, Jr.

The building’s unusually large size is due, in part, to a zoning resolution passed in 1961. In exchange for incorporating public space within or outside of a privately owned building, developers were granted additional floor space. Since the zoning change, 3.5 million square feet of public space has been produced in New York City. However, much of it is not of high quality, says Jerold S. Kayden in his book, “Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience.”

The resulting public space at 55 Water St.— constructed in 1972 by the building’s original owners — was an isolated and unadorned elevated plaza, rarely accessible to the public. “I’ve lived here since 1986, and I don’t remember anyone being up there,” Kopel said.

“It became a very uninviting space to go. The escalators didn’t work. They let the space deteriorate,” said Jonathan Greenspan, a member of the board of directors of 3 Hanover Square.

In the mid-1990s, Retirement Systems of Alabama obtained the title for 55 Water St. and began more than $400 million in much-needed renovations to the building, Kulik said.

Then, in 2001, when Chase Manhattan Bank vacated the annex and moved to New Jersey, Goldman Sachs expressed interest in leasing the space and building a 15-story structure on the plaza. In exchange, Goldman was going to improve park spaces nearby. The plan was backed by Community Board 1, but Goldman Sachs never signed the lease and the idea was scrapped, Kulik said.

The proposed new building, which would have blocked light and views of the East River, met opposition from residents of 3 Hanover Square. “We spent a lot of money and time and effort to fight the Goldman Sachs building,” Greenspan said.

Now that the 55 Water St. plaza has been renovated, Greenspan said he’s “thrilled.” “It went from totally being ignored, to something the community can be proud of and enjoy,” he said.

The newly renovated one-acre park, which will be open to the public during daylight hours, consists of four central features including an inclined open green space, a boardwalk along the East River, a 7,000-square-foot activity area with a turf field and a lighthouse “Beacon.”

The Beacon, the park’s most unique feature, is a 25-foot-tall glass tower. It contains more than 1,000 feet of programmable L.E.D. lights. “You can make it any color you want it to be,” said Jonathan Marvel, one of the principals of Rogers Marvel Architects. “You can ask the lights to perform any kind of gymnastics operation you want from a laptop in your office. It’s an amazing piece of technology,” he said.

The original plan for the park included an ice-skating rink as well as a 100-person glass elevator, which would take people from street level up to the park. However, due to budget constraints, the architects had to scale back their original design, Marvel said.

The inclined, open green space contains seating and plants, such as sea grass, and locust trees. Landscape architect Smith tried to select species of plants that were indigenous to New York’s estuaries, creating a dune-like quality to the space. “It has the magic of the beach, when you run up a dune and see the ocean,” said Marvel. Instead of the ocean, visitors will be exposed to a view of the East River.

“You’re reconnecting Water St. back to the water,” Marvel said.

October 25th, 2005, 03:23 PM
Contrary to the views expressed on this thread, I think that the beacon, despite it pitiful name, is a beautiful addition to the park and elevates this small piece of public space from another featureless vest-pocket park into the realm a of a great public space. This will be published in books in a few short years, mark my words.

October 25th, 2005, 06:57 PM
Great public space? Maybe great open space if one is so inclined to think, but there's no reason for this ever to be a natural public gathering place. It's open to the masses but will clearly never approach such spots as Union Square which actually nourish, invite, and accomodate activity.

TLOZ Link5
October 25th, 2005, 08:32 PM
I think that the wild card here is accessibility. If people find it easier to get to this plaza now that the escalator(s) have been modified, then perhaps there's some hope. At the very least, it might be attractive to the office tenants of 55 Water.

Perhaps comparing this plaza to Union Square is a bit erroneous and misleading. Union Square is a park of sorts in a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood, with lots of shopping and sights nearby. The plaza at 55 Water is, well, a plaza at an office building. It's a very corporate space in a very corporate place: namely, the Financial District. The closest and fairest comparison that I can think of, therefore, should be Seagram.

October 25th, 2005, 08:53 PM
Right, but imagine the plaza in front of the Seagram Building elevated and set behind the building itself. What's the point, even, in going there?

October 25th, 2005, 09:18 PM
The barren old plaza used to be a great place to ride a bike -- doubt that I'll be allowed to do so now. Fair trade-off, though.

The fact that "The newly renovated one-acre park, which will be open to the public during daylight hours" is not to be accessible to the public after sundown is a major negative.

TLOZ Link5
October 27th, 2005, 05:04 PM
Right, but imagine the plaza in front of the Seagram Building elevated and set behind the building itself. What's the point, even, in going there?

I'm still opting for isolated "cuddle" spot :D

Still, it's also likely that workers in 55 Water might be tempted to take their lunch outside in nice weather. We'll have to wait until it warms up again, unfortunately, to see if that will be the case.

November 2nd, 2005, 04:21 PM
Photos from the plaza

OCTOBER 30, 2005





November 2nd, 2005, 05:04 PM
^ Nice ...

Except that the staircase out the back is basically the same...

A water slide would have been nice ;)

November 2nd, 2005, 11:18 PM
Not great public space, but maybe public-use space, a destination.

http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/227/55water098gq.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water098gq.jpg)
It could use some street advertising. You'd never know it was open to the public.

http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/880/55water059kd.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water059kd.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/6442/55water077lg.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water077lg.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/3946/55water112pi.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water112pi.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/633/55water018ta.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water018ta.jpg)

http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/48/55water128hw.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water128hw.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/8809/55water038cm.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water038cm.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/2937/55water085gi.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water085gi.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/6281/55water020mz.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water020mz.jpg)

November 2nd, 2005, 11:20 PM
http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/3217/55water133mr.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water133mr.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/9909/55water145ww.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water145ww.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/5323/55water157ti.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water157ti.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/3356/55water163fn.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water163fn.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/9497/55water174vm.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water174vm.jpg) http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/1647/55water184cr.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=55water184cr.jpg)

November 3rd, 2005, 12:04 AM
Great photos, as always ;)

I especially like:

1. The expanse of lawn in relation to the old Police Building on Old Slip

2. The concrete steps / retaining walls and how they bend and relate to the slope of the original building

November 3rd, 2005, 02:49 AM
I´m looking forward to seeing this. I wonder if they´ll have guards up there ...exposed as it is, I imagine it´ll need constant maintenance. Maybe that´s why they went for the weedy natural-looking landscaping.....but for me that´s starting to look a lttle cliched. Look how great the formal green lawn looks....kind of Bryant Parkish. The whole operation, starting with that beacon-of-progress, on to the wild-life-preserve asthetic, seems to be a mish-mash of ideas.....like they´re trying way too hard. A bar or cafe?

November 3rd, 2005, 08:10 AM
The area along the building (4th photo) would be good for some sort of food concession, but whether someone would be willing to take a lease will depend on how popular the space becomes.

The plaza is split into two distinct environments. The sloped landscaped section is focused on the river. A good place to take in the views or read a book.

The other section is an amphitheater focused on the lawn, somewhat sheltered from winds. A good place for lunch.

I don't know why I didn't check when I was there, but in my minds eye, the lawn is artificial.

November 13th, 2005, 03:55 PM
^ Yep -- it's fake, which is probably the only way they could keep looking green.

After going up and hanging out for a while, I found the placement of the concrete "amphitheatre" to be odd ... sitting there the sun is always to your back and you're left with a view of the sloping Brutalistic wall of the building -- when what you want is to be leaning against the concrete and looking out over the river with Brooklyn beyond and the sky going on forever.

Also: many small but persistent looking cracks have already appeared in the concrete of the amphitheatre risers (running the full width and ocurring about every three feet). Perhaps this is unavoidable :confused: ???

Another quibble ...

To lure people back, the architects have radically altered the Water Street approach, replacing the long escalator and staircase with a series of four smaller stairways and four shorter escalators, better lit and punctuated by terraces and overlooks.

"The designers have transformed a forbidding escalator into a celebratory and wonderfully imaginative ascent," said Amanda M. Burden, the chairwoman of the City Planning Commission.

NONE of the escalators were working -- perhaps because it was Sunday -- but not one other person was up there, despite clear skies and an amazing mid-November temperature of 65 degrees.

Terraces? overlooks?? celebratory??? wonderfully imaginative????

That's a bit of over-sell if you ask me.

The best thing IMO (besides, of course, the view out to the harbor) is the way the roof of the Old Slip Police building frames the edge of the plaza beyond the lawn.

And: Don't miss the old bit of seemingly original 70's pipe railing where the sloped down edge of the building meets the wall of the plaza. It's the one bit of humor in the whole place (hoping they don't change that).

November 13th, 2005, 05:00 PM

All that money spent for...what?

They ought to turn it all over to a high-powered restaurateur. In good weather, outdoor power lunches with a view.

But of course: keep public access.

November 14th, 2005, 05:19 PM
Wait, the lawn is fake? What kind of park is this?

October 24th, 2007, 12:51 AM
crackerCAM on Flickr
August 14, 2007


October 24th, 2007, 10:52 AM
^ The '70s at its best/worst - take your pick.