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Architects selected to redesign 55 Water St. plaza.

The Municipal Art Society and the New Water Street Corporation announced that the team of Rogers Marvel Architects and Ken Smith Landscape Architect, both New York based, has been chosen as the winner of the competition to redesign the elevated public plaza at 55 Water St.

The elevated plaza at 55 Water, approximately one acre in size, is nearly invisible from street level and its current primary point of access is a dimly lit.escalator located between the North and South Towers along Water Street. Its generous proportions and beautiful panoramic views of New York Harbor from the Brooklyn Bridge to Governors Island provide the raw material for a truly grand public space.

Inspired by the topography of the regional landscape, the winning design creates a series of dune-like spaces along a slope that rises as it approaches a terrace overlooking the water. The new-sloped site will be planted with a diverse selection of native species that provide year-round interest. Areas of respite and recreation space will be created to bring the park down to the street and the street up to the park. A new multi-story beacon will anchor the northeast corner and serve as a welcoming lantern visible from the East River piers and the Brooklyn Promenade. The glowing structure will provide an additional park entrance via a large capacity elevator. An event space to the west of the beacon will accommodate year-round programming such as ice-skating, film screenings and evening parties.

"One of the special features of this project is the unique interplay between landscape architecture and architecture as two different disciplines. We worked hard with Ken Smith's office to find that balance and to create a plaza that will work 24/7 - twelve months a year," said Jonathan Marvel, principal, Rogers Marvel Architects.

55 Water Street has been an important fixture of Manhattan's Financial District and the East River waterfront for 30 years. Designed by Emery Roth & Sons and opened in 1972, 55 Water is the largest privately owned office building in New York City. A $150 million renovation program undertaken by the New Water Street Corporation in the 1990s has propelled 55 Water to Class A real estate property status with an array of venerable financial institutions as tenants. The Vietnam Veteran's Plaza on the building's south side, refurbished and rededicated in November 2001, is now a lively public open space included on New York City's Sites to See List. The New Water Street Corporation will finalize and implement the redesign of the upper plaza in the spring of 2003.

"The winning design promises to transform a barren, underused space into a destination point for Lower Manhattan - a green promontory overlooking the harbor for all New Yorkers to enjoy" said Frank E. Sanchis III, executive director of the Municipal Art Society. "It will serve as an inspiring example of what privately owned public space can be."

In July of 2002, the jury selected six finalists -- Architecture Research Office LLP of New York; William McDonough + Partners and VMDO Landscape Studio of Charlottesville, VA; Weisz and Yoes, Judith Heinz, Michael Singer, and the Sam Schwartz Company of New York; Elyn Zimmerman and Gensler of New York and Cheryl Barton of San Francisco; Rogers Marvel Architects and Ken Smith Landscape Architect of New York; and Chan Krieger & Associates and Carol R. Johnson Associates of Cambridge, MA. The finalists were selected from over 75 submissions from architects, landscape architects, urban designers and public artists from across the U.S. and several foreign countries. The proposals of all six finalists will be displayed at the Municipal Art Society's Urban Center Galleries from Oct. 21 through Nov. 29.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Oct 2, 2002
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