156 West 56th Street

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For pure circulation, this indoor through block connection is one of the most pleasant links in the six-block chain of privately owned public spaces forging a mid-block passage from West 51st to 57th Streets between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Evoking a loosely art deco motif, the design skillfully blends illumination, color, and materials to produce a two-story corridor that is remarkably light, airy, and cheerful for a space without natural light and activities. Recessed ceiling fixtures, uplights hidden behind wall panels, and exposed wall-mounted sidelights bounce their illumination off the slick surfaces of red primarily marble walls and black, white, and gray polished floors. Articulated display windows closer to West 56th Street exhibit theater posters and create the feeling, if not reality, of retail stores along the way. The controlled climate renders the passageway ideal for escaping, albeit briefly, winter and summer extremes of weather. Since the intention of the space was to facilitate movement, seating is neither required nor provided. A small building entrance recess area is located on West 56th Street at the tip of the through block connection. Although the owner received a floor area bonus, it was for the rehabilitation of the City Center Theater rather than for the through block connection.

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

The other spaces in the six-block passageway include the through block gallerias at PaineWebber, the Flatotel, and 1325 Avenue of the Americas, the through block connection at Rihga Royal Hotel, and, to the north, the through block connection at Metropolitan Tower.

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1 User Submission

  1. submitted by: Luke Szabados

    This Through Block Connection has been enhanced up with large posters dangling from the ceiling. It allows the viewer to enjoy the scale of the space while also getting a sense of place in the periphery of the City Center.
    Be on the lookout for joggers! While writing this, a man and a leashed pet in a dead sprint nearly collided with me, proving that this is certainly a public space intended for traffic flow.

    However, one can’t help but slow down to thoroughly enjoy a quiet stroll through this through block connection enclosed from the outside’s blaring horns and ubiquitous scent of garbage.
    This space is clean and regal.
    If only it had seats…