885 Second Avenue

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The most usable portion of this large plaza and additional plaza is arrayed on two levels on the north side of East 47th Street west of the Second Avenue blockfront office tower. The lower level is entered up a ramp from the sidewalk or up several steps from the building side. Further west is the upper level, accessible up a stairwell from the sidewalk at the plaza’s western edge or from the lower level to the east. At recent site visits, gates at the stairwell have been locked, even though they are required to be open at all times.

Photo: Kayden et al. (2000)

A letter from the owner to the Board of Standards and Appeals in support of a variance described a “landscaped” plaza, but the reality of the space is more hard-edged and urban. A sea of purple brick engulfs the surface and encircling walls. A semicircular water wall, made of rough-hewn stone tile, would be pleasant, but it has not been operational during recent site visits. Several fixed chairs and benches are scattered about, and the ledge around the water wall is sittable. To the extent it exists, the landscaping consists primarily of trees, concentrated in the front part of the upper level and emerging from tall planters constructed of synthetic material. The additional plaza is extra open space that was provided in support of the variance.

The remainder of plaza is a ribbon, wrapped around the three street sides of the building, elevated along Second Avenue and sunken along East 48th Street in front of storefronts. This plaza should not be confused with another, more usable plaza associated with the Dag Hammarskjold name, located one block south behind the Dag Hammarskjold Tower at the northwest corner of East 46th Street and Second Avenue.

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