300 East 93rd Street
In exchange for City Planning Commission authorization to close this residential plaza at night, the owner recently completed a renovation of the space, and the results are highly promising for the neighborhood. The plaza wraps around the building’s street frontage at the southeast corner of East 93 rd Street and Second Avenue. An open, pergola-like structure, consisting of four triangular columns that support a metal lattice box over glass block floor, continues to mark the corner and serve as modest icon for the space. From Second Avenue, the wide entrance, low see-through metal fence, and consistency of grade level into the primary space east attract passersby and are a model for visual and physical permeability.
At the same time, the primary space has not sacrificed its identity as a separate area, defined at its perimeter by well-landscaped planters with polished granite seating ledges and a ground-level round planting bed anchoring the middle of the decorative paving scheme. Three German-made, high-tech steel chair units with multiple seats each are arrayed on three of the four sides, facing each other as if in conversation. Trees planted against the building at the southern edge of the space mask the building wall.
The provision of usable, rather than visual, residual residential plaza for the entrance corridor is welcome. Unlike visual residual space, which legally does not have to be open and accessible to the public, usable residual space must be accessible and provide functional amenities. The entrance corridor provides another steel chair seating unit and more granite ledge seating. A water sculpture near the front door will be operational in the near future. The glass bump-out from the lobby provides a perch from which the doorman can watch over both the primary and usable residual portions of the space from the inside. As of this writing, the owner plans to install a glass canopy over parts of the usable residual space. Additional usable residual space is provided in front of retail uses along the avenue. There, set off from the public sidewalk by street trees, is a small area with additional steel chair units and a granite bench on the south wall. It is perfect for the brief stop.