Located on the north side of East 40th Street between Second and Third Avenues, the primary space of this well-designed residential plaza subtly allocates its spatial geography into a through traffic area for building residents and a passive recreational area for members of the public as well as building residents, without creating that balkanized us versus them environment evident in some residential plazas. The plan employs three critical elements to achieve this detente. First, although the ultimate destinations may be different, private and public users still enter and exit through the same opening. Second, the two areas, while spatially separate, are transparently visible to users in one or the other. Third, the two areas are unified by application of identical paving patterns and similar materials.
Warmed by the southern exposure, the sidewalk side of the eastern half of the plaza supplies a polished granite seating ledge used through much of the day. The plaza opening further west is entered around either side of a round brick planter, once filled with colorful annuals, now filled with green shrubs and limned with spiked ledge. For residents, the wide walkway continues north, sloping upward until it reaches the building’s front door. For the public as well as residents, up several steps to the east, is a shady, parklike, intimate, and well-proportioned space delineated by low-rise planters at its western edge and variously sized trees and plants at eastern and southern perimeters. Trees at the center are surrounded by two rows of fixed, curving wire-mesh chairs, facing north or west, furnishing comfortable, albeit limited, seating opportunities. Granite seating ledges and planters on the sidewalk perimeter of the visual residual space are supplied on East 41st Street.