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Plaza 33

W Architecture & Landscape Architecture

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Project Description


The area around Penn Station is one of the grittiest and busiest in NYC. Our client, a large property owner in the area, wanted to change its identity. For a few months last summer, the space was given over to the pedestrian. Plaza 33, a temporary pilot project, closed off 33rd Street between Seventh Ave and the Madison Square Garden loading area. The project was designed and implemented in six weeks.

The design played on the asymmetrical existing conditions of the street. The street edge on the south side was elevated and lined with heavy planter walls and stairs. The north side was not elevated and included a mid-block pedestrian corridor. To open the upper level to the street, we convinced the client to tear down several of the walls and planters and to create a continuous stair (with the exception of the planter with the existing standpipes) along 33rd Street as a permanent condition in concrete. The temporary planters, benches and bleacher seating areas were built out of timber framing and were added to both the public and private areas of the project to unify them. The surface of the street and the sidewalks were also painted in the same grey and white pattern, further unifying the space. The layout of the new amenities carefully allows for thru pedestrian traffic, which is very heavy in the area, as well as places to get out of the flow and people watch, eat lunch or just gather with friends. The main bleacher seating element is multi- functional, incorporating stage, seating viewing and planting areas. Its height screens the loading dock and allows views to the Empire State Building and Seventh Ave illuminated signage. It is also divided into two to allow for thru pedestrian traffic in a planter lined passageway.

Benches with integrated planters line both sides of the street, and were placed to discourage street vendors. Street vendors were encouraged to stay closer to Seventh Avenue. Loose tables and chairs were set in the center of the street.

Two sculptures were positioned in the space. The first “S-Man” by Keith Haring, was centered on the mid block pedestrian corridor. The second Roy Lichtenstein’s “Brushstroke Group” was placed near the plaza entrance on 7th Avenue.
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