599 Lexington Avenue

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The City obtained open space and sidewalk widenings along with the developer’s agreement to provide a major subway station improvement, in exchange for a zoning floor area bonus. An above-ground, triangular glass structure surrounded by comfortable green-and-black polished granite bench hovers over the subway entrance at the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and East 53rd Street. The public space wraps fully around the building along the avenue as well as East 52nd and 53rd Streets and includes three recessed areas inside the building’s curtain wall. Although not a public space, the private lobby nonetheless engages the passing pedestrian. Visible through the glass-walled, two-story arcade is a colorful Frank Stella artwork, entitled Salto Nel Mio Sacco (1985), adorning the lobby wall. Such transparency into normally invisible lobbies and the intent to display art for passersby as well as building tenants can, as here, greatly enhance the experience of the exterior public spaces. It is instructive to compare this public space with another one fronting a private lobby exhibiting Stella artwork, at 375 Hudson Street in lower Manhattan. Permitted café tables and chairs installed by the adjacent storefront food service on East 52nd Street offer members of the public places to sit without obligation to purchase.

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



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1 User Submission

  1. submitted by: Danielle Thomson

    I mean, it’s not much by way of seating or amenities, but it’s so pretty! Whenever I get on the subway here, I feel like I am descending into a futuristic world. Just standing here makes me feel fancy.