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, the plaza is one of Lower Manhattan’s few public open spaces. Once the site of an office building, the plaza had suffered from serious settlement problems leading to the partial collapse and removal of one of the sculptures.

QRP and the planning team created a gravel-surfaced plaza with new trees, ground cover, lighting and glass benches. A granite plinth forms the base of the largest sculpture and serves as a stage for outdoor events. Loose chairs encourage informal gatherings. The reconstruction also offered opportunities for increasing the pedestrian area by modest realignment of the surrounding streets. Provision was made for 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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