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10 Dec 2019

Snøhetta's new public garden at 550 Madison to be "green oasis"
BY Stu Robarts

The new designs will increase the amount of public open space at the building by 50 per cent

The new designs will increase the amount of public open space at the building by 50 per cent

A new public garden, designed by Snøhetta, is being created at the prestigious 550 Madison tower in Manhattan, with the aim of introducing much needed green space to the area and honouring the vision of the building's original architects.

Designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, 550 Madison was initially intended to be a community amenity with public open space, in addition to an office tower.

Co-owner of the building the Olayan Group says the amount of public space at the tower has declined over the years due to multiple alterations and that this has compounded the lack of public in the East Midtown area as a whole.

It describes the building's current provision as "a dark, enclosed, and underutilised space with minimal vegetation".

As part of ongoing renovations that Olayan is carrying out, Snøhetta were enlisted to create "a welcoming sensory retreat" for tenants and the local community to enjoy.

The new designs, conceived as a green oasis for the area, will see the amount of public open space increased by 50 per cent to more than 21,000sq ft (1,950sq m).

Almost half of the space will be planted with flora including annuals, perennials and evergreens chosen to celebrate the local climate, as well as 45-50 trees.

There will also be more seating, tables, public bathrooms and bike racks.

Referencing Johnson and Burgee's original vison, Erik Horvat, managing director of real estate at Olayan America, said: "Snøhetta is restoring their intention for the open space with a reimagined new public garden that will further improve the vitality of East Midtown.

"As the largest outdoor space of its kind in this district, the garden at 550 Madison will be a new anchor point in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, and a huge amenity to the local community and our world-class office tenants."

Michelle Delk, partner and director of landscape architecture at Snøhetta, said: "A contrast to the urbanity of midtown, this new garden complements the adjacent tower while drawing upon the vibrancy of the neighbourhood and the natural history of the region, offering visitors an immersive respite in the city."

The public garden is due to open next year.



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