1 Court Square
Citigroup

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Privately owned public space and office skyscrapers are equally anomalous in Queens. Indeed, the landscaped public open space and pedestrian circulation space here are the only privately owned public spaces in the borough, and the green-tinted glass skyscraper that generated them is strikingly atypical in an area defined by low-rise structures. Once the developers of this tower rejected the conventional wisdom that skyscrapers should stay on the skyscraper side of the East River, it was hardly a stretch that they would Import a “tower in the park” design.

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

Formed by the convergence of Jackson Avenue and 44th Drive, the usable space is triangular in shape at the eastern end of the lot. Three stands of birch trees totaling roughly 75 trees struggle to establish a beachhead in this otherwise ill-defined spatial context. Numerous fixed green metal benches serve the lunch crowd as the four-sided antique-style clock keeps time. Part of the space is actually built on 1,537 square feet of City-owned street bed. Across Jackson Avenue to the southeast is a publicly owned public space, with ornamental fountain, polished granite ledges, and greensward, attached to the ornate state Supreme Court building. The design for that square manifestly takes its cue from the courthouse. The interesting question for the landscaped public open space here is whether it has taken its design cue from its host tower and surrounding neighborhood. Additional landscaped public open space and pedestrian circulation space front 44th Drive and 45th Avenue sides of the tower.

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3 User Submissions

  1. submitted by: Nicole Murdoch

    Benches and clocktower at 1 Court Square.

  2. submitted by: Nicole Murdoch

    Citigroup’s privately owned public space at 1 Court Square is indeed the only of its kind in the entire borough of Queens. It’s nestled between other triangular public spaces (Raferty Triangle and Mckenna Triangle) and situated in a space where foot traffic is frequent between the Long Island City Court House and CUNY Law School, as well as to and from the G subway stop within court square and the many MTA bus lines that connect at the square as well. Much like as in Kayden’s profile, I too wonder whether the design of this pops took its cue from the host tower and surrounding neighborhood. Though, while it does seemingly borrow from its neighboring elements, I will say that the trees of the space do an adequate job of creating a spatially secluded and shady area for civilians who are en route. The neighboring spaces that have planters and seating present do not offer such a respite from the sun. All in all, I would argue that there are much less effective pops out there (here’s looking at you, Midtown) and this example of the landscaped public open space and pedestrian circulation space at 1 Court Square is ultimately more functional than most.