As a 18 year native New Yorker non-architect no lover of art in that field of work, nothing really special stands out to me about the Seagrams’ building and plaza. In my eye it’s just another typical skyscraper, that illuminates the skyline every night. Located between 52nd and 53rd street facing Park Ave, Seagrams’ Plaza has become a well known hot spot for Midtown’s lunchtime crowds. Elevated three steps above the Park Ave sidewalk, the pink granite plaza is bound on its north and south sides by long, narrow walls of marble. The design incorporates two shallow rectangular pools located at both end of the boundaries, each home to a tight group of water jets gathered near the center. Just to the edge of the southern pool stands a bronze flagpole, the only uniquely asymmetrical element on the site. Flanking the base of the north and south of the building are beds of ivy, and a staircase with two metal railings which leads way to the sidewalks of 52nd and 53rd street.
After watching “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” and “Urbanism”, alongside driving and walking along Park Ave many times in 18 years, I had the basic knowledge of what Seagrams’ would look like during the day, especially during the lunch rush. So I went with a different take on the write up. Why not go during the late afternoon, or night? After most have already hit the evening rush hour to head home. What difference would the time of day really make? In fact, it made all the different. In comparison to the Midtown lunch chaoticness, on beautiful weekday after 7pm, Seagram’s seems a bit more spacious than usual. Because there’s not many people there filling and taking up space. Yet, the area is not totally empty, there is still very much activity present this time of night. Oddly enough, if you stay for a while, in random pockets there will be herds of people, then the next no more than 3 or 4. Form people entering and leaving Seagrams’ itself, to private drives taking phone calls, even bikers taking a break form peddling, to pass byers just needing a rest. The list of activity and reason for the commotion ranges.
On thing that stood out to me was how people entering and leaving the plaza, or wanting to take a shortcut to get to 52nd or 53rd st would, for the most part, choose to use the corner part of the Park Ave stairs. Even if people were seating in that area. In addition, due to the fact that Seagrams’ doesn’t have movable seating options, everyone who was sitting chose to sit on the ledge of the boundary walls. Most facing the bustling street of Park Ave, with a few exceptions to the few who chose to find safety sitting on the higher up ledges closer to the side steps. Although, these people, were facing inward toward the building, where their feet could have a solid base to relax on, as opposed to them dangling several feet in the area. As for the people who stopped to take a short break, instead of taking the time to walk up 3 fairly low steps, they just opted to lean on the raised platform lining Park Ave. Shockingly, and I don’t know why I found it so shocking, the was a seemingly endless number of bikes and bikers posted around the sidewalk lining Park.
As for food, Park ave itself isn’t really known for food spots in the Midtown area, heavily business oriented. But just a block over on Lexington, there plays a host of several different dining options, from quick bites, to full out diners. Then just a few blocks down is Grand Central, so food options are always there. However, they’re there only if you’re up for a walk. There seems to be no direct food options available right on the block of Seagrams’ itself. As for the day, I do believe there are food vendors on the corner, but if one is there during prime time, it will be a little walk before quenching one’s’ thirst and hunger.
Sound: Water jet power, Honking horns, Bike bell, Dog barking