New York, USA
Originally designed by Johnson & Burgee in 1980-1983 as part of the 37-story AT&T Building (now known as 550 Madison Avenue), Snøhetta has re-envisioned and re-invigorated the neglected garden, which will be accessed from the west side of 550 Madison Avenue.
The garden results as part of the controversial backlash around the remodeling of Johnson’s postmodern icon that ended with the building being declared a landmark.
550 Madison’s garden is a privately-owned public space (POPS) that is modelled on “pocket parks” elsewhere in the city, like the Modern Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden and the nearby Paley Park.
Coordinated with AAI the renovation architects and SiteWorks for developers The Olayan Group, RXR Realty, and Chelsfield, the new garden design, transforms the existing public area which previously housed cafe tables and chairs, and linked to the adjacent building at 717 5th Avenue.
The architects will demolish the existing curved glass roof covering the space and also remove annex building built inside, to create 50 per cent more room for the project.
A new, steel-and-glass roof supported by slender white columns will provide cover over the space and be a reference to the former roof.
According to the architects, an abundance of vegetation will be featured with many evergreens and shrubs well suited to the climate in Northeastern US. “Over 40 trees will be planted where today there are none.”
New landscaping will also cover over a car park and truck dock, forming a buffer along the rear wall.
“Conceptually, the landscape responds to the canyon-like verticality of Midtown Manhattan, with a verdant, layered topography that lifts up along the west side of the garden, both minimizing the impact of existing tower service infrastructure while providing a sense of being immersed in the garden,” said Snøhetta.
A series of circular forms will also be included in the garden to take cues from Johnson’s circular motifs at 550 Madison, like the large circular window defining its front entrance and the arches in the lobby.
Pavings will be laid in circular shapes to mark different areas in the public space, including The Living Room, The Waterfall Room, The Tree Room and The Picnic Room.
The indoor garden will contain a feature water wall that will also help to buffer street commotion from the surroundings of Midtown Manhattan.
The garden will also be visible from inside the tower’s office lobby, which will be renovated by Gensler.
Completion date is 2022.
Architects: Snøhetta AS
Original Architects: Johnson & Burgee (1980-1983)
Architects of Record: AAI Architects, P.C.
Landscape Architects: SiteWorks
Developers: The Olayan Group, RXR Realty, and Chelsfield