Peggy Rockefeller Plaza

Peggy Rockefeller Plaza

Balancing Restful Public Space with Towering Architecture
{"autoplay":"true","autoplay_speed":"3000","speed":"300","arrows":"true","dots":"false","loop":"true","nav_slide_column":5,"rtl":"false"}

DETAILS

LocationNew York, New York, USA
ClientRockefeller University
Size0.25 acre

Stretching along nine blocks of New York City’s Upper East Side, Rockefeller University is a world-renowned medical research institution with an impressive roster of Nobel Prize winners — and beautiful river views. Once a harmonious urban oasis of 19th century buildings and 20th century modernism stitched together by a renowned Dan Kiley landscape, the campus was brutalized in the 1970s by the erection of three towers that resulted in a series of leftover and barren voids in the most active zone of the campus.

To remedy this plight, the University sponsored an invited competition that Thomas Balsley Associates won with this crisp yet contemplative design, a respectful update of the iconic allees and white marble paths of Dan Kiley. The designers resolved the disparate geometries, staggered topography, and programmatic requirements with one strong, simple move: a circular ginkgo grove and its concentric fountain — a low wall slotted with cooling waterspouts — around which the other spaces revolve.

These other spaces become multi-level outdoor rooms offering varying degrees of intimacy, from a quiet garden bench to a large, open performance lawn. The character of each space is defined by a rich palette of paving, planting, and furniture: robust planters and walls of Ashlar stone. Custom-designed circular metal “Vortex” shade sculptures divert attention from the ‘70s towers and provide shelter for a new river overlook terrace. For its precision, thoughtful details, and clean, crisp lines, the plaza takes its cue from a Swiss watch.

Related Projects

San Jacinto Plaza

The redesign of San Jacinto Plaza, a historic gathering place in El Paso’s downtown business district provides a state-of-the-art urban open space, while protecting and celebrating the history and culture of the site. The project was the result of an intensive community process involving input from a wide range of constituents. Active programming, environmenta...

Xiqu Opera Centre

After it was decided to locate the main concert venue on the building’s top floor to create a covered indoor/outdoor public realm, SWA designed the entire ground level of this venue for traditional Cantonese opera, including a dramatic, covered open-air landscape space. There, an urban stage facilitates movement, provides a gathering space, and enhances ...

One Zero Park

Digital City is blessed with many assets that make it a special place in the Samsung family of campuses. Brilliant minds from around the world, an innovative environment, and an open space system in which the quality of work life is enhanced with play and relaxation. One Zero Park will be its center of spiritual gravity in which Samsung can host events and cel...

51 Astor Place

At the locus of two famous NYC neighborhoods, East Village and Greenwich Village, this new corner plaza takes full advantage of the vibrant urban life generated by nearby NYU and historic Cooper Union across the street. With a strong architectural alignment of banquette seating, this plaza benefits from its urban context by carefully staging the cherished NYC ...

Aitken Place Park

Aitken Place Park will be at the heart of Toronto’s East Bayfront Community – currently being transformed from an underutilized industrial brownfield into a vibrant waterfront neighborhood. Flanked by the residential development to the west and the commercial buildings to the north, the park’s water’s edge location presents a unique opportunity to create...

Ferry Point Waterfront Park

Since the closing of a city-owned landfill in 1963, the site’s transformation into Ferry Point Waterfront Park has been a long, complex process. The new Ferry Point Waterfront Park will be a long linear eastern ecological extension of the previously built and conventionally programmed western Ferry Point Park. Part of a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, this...

Faria Lima

A new office tower, theater and café pavilion known as Alameda is being built in the high end district of downtown Sao Paulo; the centerpiece of the site design is the Alameda civic plaza. Lifted gently above the street level, four generous steps invite visitors to enter and explore the plaza while branded light pylons at all major entrances serve as place mar...

51 Astor Place

At the locus of two famous NYC neighborhoods, East Village and Greenwich Village, this new corner plaza takes full advantage of the vibrant urban life generated by nearby NYU and historic Cooper Union across the street. With a strong architectural alignment of banquette seating, this plaza benefits from its urban context by carefully staging the cherished NYC ...

2020-02-06T00:59:28+00:00