The official unveiling of the redesigned Astor Place and Cooper Square took place today.
The renovated plazas and walkways transform the popular area with public amenities and plantings, traffic-calming measures, storm-ready landscaping, and restored public artworks including the famous rotating black cube, Alamo, prized mosaic installations on light poles, and a statue of the square’s namesake, Peter Cooper.
WXY architecture + urban design was the lead architect and planner for the project which revamped four busy intersections from 4th Street to 9th Street in Astor Place, expanding pedestrian space by about 50,000 s/ft.
Claire Weisz, FAIA, founding principal of WXY, said her firm’s design also added new plazas, new seating, as well as 9,900 perennial plants and shrubs, 60 additional trees, and more than 100 bike racks.
The iconic WXY Zipper Bench System is among the inspired new outdoor furnishings. To handle rain and storm water, the design adds about 6,600 square feet of absorbent permeable paving and new bioswales, which are sloped drainage courses lined with plantings.
“We are delighted to be part of the history behind this major New York City crossroads and to add to Astor Place’s story a new layer that brings together space for pedestrians as well as green infrastructure,” said Weisz.
“Diagonal streets and the history of the 2nd Avenue El set up unusual urban challenges,” she added, alluding to the elevated railway in Manhattan that was dismantled in 1942. “By upgrading New York City’s below-grade systems, we didn’t have to put off solving these issues any longer. This resulting plaza is a showcase of pedestrian-friendly city amenities as well as cutting-edge green infrastructure, which helps protect against flooding while improving the environment and public health.”
Named “firm of the year” for New York State last month, WXY led a blue-ribbon design team including world-renowned landscape designer Piet Oudolf, landscape architects Quennell Rothschild & Partners (QRP), and Tillett Lighting Design Associates.
“Our team brings together leaders in our various fields to address everything from traffic and pedestrian patterns to moving underground utilities, as well as accommodating the many events and public gatherings that take place at this Greenwich Village hub,” said Layng Pew, AIA, principal at WXY.
DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora, said the artworks are key to this public project. “The Alamo is the centerpiece of the neighborhood and, following its restoration, the highlight of a new and improved neighborhood square.”
Other pieces include the restoration of Peter Cooper and the bringing back of J Powers Mosaic Trail.
The $16 million urban design project reclaims thousands of square feet of former roadbed for pedestrian use.
Reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square:
Owner: The City of New York
New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC)
New York City Department of Transportation (DOT)
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
Lead Architect/Designer: WXY architecture + urban design
Landscape Design: Piet Oudolf
Landscape Architect: Quennell Rothschild & Partners (QRP)
Outdoor Lighting: Tillett Lighting Design Associates
Engineer (MEP): OLA Consulting Engineers
Engineer (civil): New York City DDC, Infrastructure Division
Photos by Wade Zimmerman
Renderings courtesy WXY architecture + urban design