303 East 60th Street
This formal residential plaza sits in front of its host building, on the north side of East 60th Street some 75 feet east of Second Avenue. Although the presence of Queensboro Bridge ramp traffic across the street is felt, the space successfully buffers the commotion with effective screening of trees, planter wall, and fence on the southern perimeter. The screen also has the effect, however, of making the space less visible to passersby. Indeed, to obtain entry, members of the public as well as residents must walk through an elaborate postmodern pavilion, composed of black columns, notched-brick pediment, triangular glass canopy, and pyramidal red cap, at the western edge and be buzzed in through a locked gate. Individuals unknown to the doorman must identify themselves via intercom which, at a recent site visit, elicited no buzz and a response that the space was private. No record of City approval has been found for the gate or the statement that the space is private.
The plaza adopts the two-zone residential plaza model of designated lobby approach zone and usable space zone, although the two here are happily porous to one another. Building residents normally proceed north under the glass canopy to their front door, but their path is neither visually nor physically obstructed from the usable space to the east. Members of the public would veer east, although they could walk to the front door if they wanted to do so. Given this visual and physical transparency, it is not surprising that the plaza presents high-quality materials and well-maintained conditions suggestive of the solicitude of management. Polished black-granite planter walls and ledges invite seating as they undulate along the eastern edge and surround a free-standing small planter. Well-manicured shrubs, trees, and flowers monopolize the planters, except for a whimsical, triangular red cover over the black mechanical vent.