425 Lexington Avenue

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Near Grand Central Terminal on the north side of East 43rd Street about 150 feet east of Lexington Avenue, this rectangular urban plaza offers convenient, functional outdoor space in one of the most congested areas of midtown. Behind open gates recently installed for nighttime closings, the space furnishes generous fixed and movable seating highly utilized at lunchtime. Sittable ledges rim the six black-granite sarcophagus-shaped planters, each with tree and ground cover, projecting from the eastern wall like a horizontal Stonehenge. The planters create opportunities for users to choose between public and private moments, to locate themselves on the tips of, or in between, the projections. Over the years, movable tables and chairs have migrated throughout the space, sometimes resting near the adjacent food service at the front, other times placed at back next to three more fixed benches attached to the north wall.

The materials and design are elegant, especially the red-marble walls at lower levels, the pilasters and horizontal bands, and the built-in polished brass-colored litter receptacles that are almost too good for refuse. Across the street is a good view of the Chrysler building, whose decorative eagles threaten to swoop down into the space.

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

 

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