Midtown Manhattan will soon become much greener thanks to New York City Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of Snøhetta’s design for a new privately-owned public space (POPS) in 550 Madison, a Philip Johnson-designed postmodernist landmark. Designed as a “vibrant sensory retreat,” the new public space will take the shape of a lush garden — the largest of its kind in the area — that will become a haven for both people and urban pollinators. The garden is being developed as part of the recent renovation of 550 Madison, which will open this year as a multi-tenant building under The Olayan Group. This structure will be the only LEED Platinum and WELL Gold certified building in the Plaza District.
Proposed for the west end of the tower, the 550 Madison garden will engage the public with a series of interconnected outdoor “rooms.” The landscape design takes inspiration from its urban surroundings and architecture. Philip Johnson’s playful use of circular motifs at 550 Madison will inform the geometry of the garden rooms, while the layered planting plan references the canyon-like verticality of Midtown Manhattan. The lush circular rooms will encourage passersby to slow down, linger, and connect with nature.
“Privately-owned public spaces are a critical part of New York City’s public realm. Urban life thrives in and around spaces that allow us to connect with one another and to nature,” said Michelle Delk, Partner and Director of Landscape Architecture at Snøhetta. “Moreover, we need to make the most of the spaces we already have and recognize that they are part of a network that contribute to the livelihood of the city. We’re thrilled to be a part of renewing the future of this historic site.”
The immersive green respite will comprise a seasonal Northeastern planting palette that will include evergreens, perennials and flowering shrubs. Over 40 trees will be planted in the space. An enormous glass canopy will flood the interior with natural daylight. The architects will also install a central water wall as a point of interest and noise buffer from the commotion of the neighborhood. Informational signage will punctuate the space and provide details about the site’s environmental and cultural history.
Images via Snøhetta