After an outcry, architects have submitted a new proposal to redesign the plaza that houses Noguchi’s “Red Cube” sculpture.
In January, a proposed redesign of a prominent Manhattan plaza caused an uproar among aficionados and community members. The public plaza is part of 140 Broadway, designed by architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Some saw the design as a move to displace food vendors with planters and benches along Broadway, while others objected most to the aesthetics of a large tree planter offsetting the purposeful asymmetry of Isamu Noguchi’s “Red Cube” sculpture in the space. The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum decried designers and the owner of the building for failing to consult them, calling the whole design detrimental to Noguchi’s vision.
Now, the firms behind the redesign have released a revised plan.
Update, 3/20/2018, 4:50pm: The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum responded to Hyperallergic’s inquiry, calling the revised plan “a significant improvement,” but taking issue with several of its components. The Senior Curator of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, Dakin Hart, provided the following comment about the revised renovation plan:
The changes NV5 have made recently to their proposed renovations to the plaza around 140 Broadway are a significant improvement. The elimination of the large circular planter, the recessing of the Helmsley memorial, and the elimination of trees from the new planters planned for the Cedar side of the site will all help to maintain the scale and conceptually geometric quality of “Red Cube”‘s relationship to the plaza.
The proposed addition of planters and benches along the edge of the plaza on the Broadway side remains problematic. While the current presence of the food trucks is a visual obstruction to “Red Cube,” they are neither permanent nor intentional changes to the design. We believe it is worth aiming to reestablish the plaza as a visually continuous plane, as it was conceived. These planters and benches will permanently affect “Red Cube” in a way that is at odds with Noguchi and Bunshaft’s conception of the space. Though well-intentioned, we believe these suggestions represent a step in the wrong direction. We hope DOT will take that into consideration as they review the plans.