825 Eighth Avenue

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Sloping up and down as it connects West 49th and 50th Streets between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, this plaza represents a hybrid public space typology: a space that serves as back yard and front yard at the same time. Sandwiched between the back of an office tower and the front of a residential tower, the plaza forges a common ground for office workers, residents, and visitors. Indeed, on any given day, its large, diverse community of users might include lawyers from Cravath Swaine & Moore, advertising account representatives from Ogilvey & Mather, condominium owners, health club members, restaurant and cinema patrons, and neighboring Clinton residents.

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

Mixed-use developments such as One Worldwide Plaza engage the social potential of mixed-use development when they provide well located, well designed, highly functional public space for mixing. This plaza capably meets that challenge. Its placement between the two buildings was clever, gaining critical mass and allegiance from two large sets of users. Its half-acre size, numerous movable chairs, comfortable ledge seating, food service at north and south ends, decorative water fountain, and landscaping of trees and shrubs render it highly functional for the diverse audience. Neon-vested private security guards maintain building management’s sense of behavioral decorum, even to the point of asking a shirtless sun worshiper to put his shirt back on.

The plaza’s theme of commonality is subtly reinforced in other ways. The red-brick paving integrates visually the façades of the bookend buildings. The iconic sculptural fountain is composed of four standing bronze nude women balancing, almost like caryatids, a large metal globe on their heads, while four disembodied male heads spout water into the pool below. The allusion to the famed bronze sculpture Atlas (1937), by Lee Lawrie, shouldering the world’s burdens on the west side of Fifth Avenue in front of a Rockefeller Center building between West 50th and 51st Streets, is unmistakable, even admirable, conceptually connecting this development to Rockefeller Center and its superb mixing of buildings and public space, although the owners probably had their development’s name, One Worldwide Plaza, more in mind. The star-shaped fountain ledge is inviting and heavily used on hot summer days.

As a space slightly off the beaten path, the plaza is helped by such draws as the movie theaters on its West 50th Street side. Although not required by the legal actions creating the space, the theaters draw additional persons that ensure an active and varied group of users during evening as well as daylight hours. Lined with storefronts, the elliptical arcades at the base of the office building connect the plaza to Eighth Avenue. The public restrooms are located inside the arcade immediately north of the entrance off the plaza. Situated at the base of the office building near Eighth Avenue, with an elevator closer to West 49th Street and an escalator closer to West 50th Street, subway access areas connect the plaza to the rest of the city.



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5 User Submissions

  1. submitted by: Liz O

    I was harassed by security for putting my feet up on a chair while reading a book in this park. Is this really the kind of policing POPS security is for. Let people live and enjoy these spaces.

  2. submitted by: Andrew Mitchell

    825 Eighth Avenue provides a relaxing environment not far from what may be one of the more hectic places in Manhattan (being Times Square). Due to its size, this POPS is able to serve both the residents of the surrounding Clinton neighborhood and employees working in the area. The movable furnishings (tables and chairs) allow those who utilize the space to turn a public area into a more private feeling. Aside from the seating and tables, 825 Eighth Avenue provides a useful cut through between 49th and 50th Street and greatly improves the walkablity of the area. With two restaurants located within the space, users can also enjoy a meal while relaxing outdoors without the noise from cars and buses driving by, all adding to a rather pleasurable experience.

  3. submitted by: Andrew Mitchell

    825 Eighth Avenue utilizes many movable furnishings, and provides seating areas for two restaurants that are located in the center of the north and south sides of the POPS. My primary suggestion would be delineating the areas which are designated for restaurant seating from the regular publicly accessible seating. Additionally, because there is a Starbucks located adjacent to the POPS, many users purchase a drink from Starbucks but there are few recycling cans in which they can dispose of their drink after consumption. Other than that, I think the movable furnishings are great and would suggest purchasing even more as I frequently see couples or groups of people having to sit on the more linear concrete seating, which makes it hard for a group of people to engage one another.

  4. submitted by: Amy L

    I regularly sit in the park and my understanding is that the cafes in this area need to share the space with the public. No luck today. I went to sit at one of the chairs and tables at Mother Burger and was told I couldn’t sit down because the space was for the restaurant. I responded, isn’t this public space. They said they would like me to sit elsewhere, near a wall with a bunch flies instead of out in the open.

  5. submitted by: Brian I.

    The security is worst! Absolutely no dogs allowed, ridiculous!