420 Fifth Avenue

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Some urban plazas are designed with narrow width and considerable depth relative to the street. This urban plaza on the north side of West 37th Street, 75 feet west of Fifth Avenue, reverses the ratio, employing a wider street frontage and shallower depth to great effect. The proportions keep it closer and exposed to sidewalk and street, and the result is an open, less claustrophobic feeling than that experienced at other similarly sized spaces.

Photo: Kayden et al. (2000)
Photo: Kayden et al. (2000)

A Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. sign is prominently displayed at the western end, practically guaranteeing that the space will meet certain standards of excellence. Although advertising at spaces is strictly limited by the Zoning Resolution, the idea of encouraging tenants or owners to identify themselves prominently in or with a space has a certain appeal, if only because the condition of the space then reflects positively or negatively on that tenant or owner and renders them more responsible. Here, the quality shows through. Planters on the western side are well-landscaped with trees, overflowing ivy, and flowers. Elegant marble benches and ledges provide fixed seating, and movable café chairs and tables are scattered about. Stylish stanchions balancing globes of light lead up to the front lobby.

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