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Good news re: 140 Broadway and Noguchi’s big red cube

April 22, 2018

The expansive plaza at 140 Broadway is probably best known for its landmark sculpture. Isamu Noguchi’s red “Cube” on point is a striking complement to the refined tower and plaza Gordon Bunshaft of SOM designed for Marine Midland Bank in 1967. In 2013, 140 Broadway earned much-deserved individual landmark status.

In January 2018, the building owners announced plans for updating the plaza. Given that the plaza had undergone unsympathetic alterations prior to the designation this was an opportunity to return the plaza to something closer to Bunshaft’s original vision. And in end, it looks like that will be the outcome. The owner’s original proposal met with disapproval at Community Board 1 and was revised in response. Further revisions were made as the LPC public hearing was postponed twice. The hearing took place March 20. DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State testified in support of approving the plan with some reservations, as did most of the groups and individuals at the hearing. The LPC voted to approve the application with the provisos that light bollards proposed along Cedar Street be eliminated from the plan and that the owner explore using travertine—the original material—for the new paving.

When completed the tall barricade-like rectangular planters along Cedar Street will be removed and six low circular bench-style planters similar to the original seating will take their place. The non-historic pink granite paving will be replaced in a lighter colored granite in the dimensions of the original travertine, if not in travertine. In the southwest corner of the plaza the large Harry Helmsley memorial added in 2000 will be replaced by a memorial plaque flush with the paving. Read the testimony letter.

140 Broadway (Gordon Bunshaft/SOM, 1967) with Isamu Noguchi sculpture, "Cube." photo: Jan Martin