We look at buildings as “citizens” — and with the privilege of occupying a key corner at Bryant Park comes the obligation of responsibly shaping the space in which it stands. With respect for Bryant Park and its visitors, we designed a form that directly addresses the southwest corner of the park, as well as taking advantage of the extraordinary linear frontage on Avenue of the Americas. In addressing the challenge, we demonstrated that how a building is situated can enhance the experience of the park, by making the corner into something more than a mute object marking the intersection of city streets. Two conical incisions-one pointing up, the other down-with their apexes touching at the setback level constitute an engaging gesture that animates the building volume as seen from the park. Building-width balconies at this juncture further punctuate the structure while offering appealing exterior tenant space. At street level, the form is further dramatized by a generous circular floating stainless steel canopy that shelters a welcoming public space where pedestrians are invited to pause and enjoy one of the city’s most treasured landscapes. From inside the building, park views are enhanced by the façade, allowing occupants and visitors to enjoy an unexpectedly privileged affiliation with Bryant Park. In our minds, an ideal occupant of the building is someone who understands the gesture of the building and enjoys it both from the outside looking in, and especially from the inside looking out.
Henry N. Cobb and Yvonne Szeto