2015 Merit Award

General Landscape Architecture Design

51 Astor Place

Landscape Architect:

Thomas Balsley Associates


About the Project:

What was once a famed crossroad and gateway to NYC’s East and West Villages has been expanded and transformed into a public space that is shared by those residents and students of historic Cooper Union and NYU. The distinctive pew-like alignment of banquette seating takes full advantage of this urban context by carefully staging the cherished NYC pastime of street theatre voyeurism. Transverse pedestrian traffic moves along the building, storefronts, and lobby of the Maki-designed headquarters for IBM’s Watson. Nighttime activity at this busy intersection is enhanced by the light wands and “halo” lighting beneath the seating. Teeming with urban life, this iconic NYC space has replaced the famous Rosenthal Cube traffic island as the “village” agora and exemplifies our highest social, cultural, and economic sustainability goals and the transformative powers of landscape architecture in the densest urban locations.