Louise Nevelson Plaza, Manhattan

A key element in the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s open space plan for Lower Manhattan, prepared by the planning team of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson and Ralph Lerner, was the redesign of Louise Nevelson Plaza, a small triangular open space containing four large Louise Nevelson sculptures erected in the 1970’s, and one of Lower Manhattan’s few public open spaces. The plaza, once the site of an office building, had suffered from serious settlement problems leading to partial collapse and removal of one of the sculptures.

The planning team with QR&P created a new gravel surfaced plaza with new trees, ground cover plantings, lighting and benches. A large granite plinth, at the plaza’s western end, will form the base of the largest sculpture and serve as a stage for organized outdoor events. Loose chairs will be placed to encourage use of the plaza for informal gatherings. The reconstruction also offered opportunities for increasing the area of pedestrian space by modest realignment of the surrounding streets. Provision was also required for locating a security check-point for the Federal Reserve Bank at the plaza’s western end.

The design of this small space involved extensive discussions with several City agencies including NYC DOT, NYC Parks, NYC DEP as well as the Downtown Alliance, Community Board 1, the NYC Art Commission and the Legion Square Committee – a group of surrounding building owners who have been responsible for the plaza’s maintenance.

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