Outstanding Project, Open Space Category
Greater New York Construction User Council
Best Privately-owned Public Space
Municipal Art Society of NY
General Motors (GM) Plaza
GM Plaza is one of New York City’s most recognizable and successful urban public retail spaces, most notably for the Apple glass cube rising above the plaza. The illusion creates the sense of a boundary-free open space that engages the neighboring Central Park and Grand Army Plaza. The original 1968 GM Plaza sat ten-feet below the surrounding streetscape, and ABB worked closely with the design team to develop a grading scheme that raised the entire plaza grade above the surrounding area. The result improves accessibility, sightlines, and plaza usage. The design details include new stepped walls around two fountains that recede in exact counterpoint to the Apple Cube.
Developing appropriate design vocabulary for materials and site furnishings was critical to realizing the elegant, yet modern environment envisioned by the client. The team chose a rich Pietra di Bedonia granite, quarried in India and cut in Italy, throughout the space for new walls, ledges, steps, fountains, and pavement. Precision detailing and carefully located drain grates, railings, and jointing in the granite benches create a consistent pavement pattern, crucial to realizing the design intent. The success of the plaza has attracted major retailers over the years, including FAO Schwartz, CBS Television, and Apple and has turned the space into a 24-hour hotspot for people-watching and deal-making.