Like the neighboring plaza at the Grace building one block north, this special permit plaza experienced some problematic spillover from the Times Square neighborhood in the 1980s, problems that have largely disappeared with the area’s dramatic revitalization. Unlike the situation at Grace plaza, however, the owners here successfully obtained City approval for upgrading their plaza in 1989 and 1990, in return for permission to install gates at both ends for nighttime closing. The design changes, including new amenities, have produced a more usable space for members of the public. Indeed, even with the overwhelming competition presented by the City-owned Bryant Park directly across Sixth Avenue, this space still attracts it share of users.
Located immediately west of the dark glass Bell Atlantic tower occupying the western blockfront of Sixth Avenue between West 41st and 42nd Streets, this large, brick, through-block rectangular plaza is entered up several steps from either side street. Most of the amenities are concentrated along the western side, across from the tower. These include two raised groves of mature trees with ivy and shrub undergrowth at the north and south ends, granite benches with uncomfortably obtuse angled backs built into the base of the groves, plentiful fixed metal benches and seats which replaced the previous plastic modular seating units, and individual trees in small concrete planters. A trellis offers shade between the two groves. The brick waterfalls and pools that used to operate here have been removed. No record of City approval for their absence has been found. More benches and concrete planters are set out next to the two entrances to the building on the eastern edge of the space. Like a baseball field at a late afternoon game, the plaza can become sharply divided between sunny and shady areas, and user patterns reflect the search for or evasion of sun. The subway concourse below the street is accessible from northeast and southwest corners of the space.