Jacob K. Javits Federal Building Plaza

Jacob K. Javits Federal Building Plaza

The Jacob K. Javits Federal Building Plaza combines the dignity of a civic threshold with the intimacy and sense of welcome of a neighborhood park. In a Lower Manhattan neighborhood where city, state, and federal buildings adjoin residential enclaves, the plaza balances informal use by locals and tourists with the capacity for official functions and necessary security features.

The site sits partly atop a plinth created by an underground garage. To soften the transition to street level, curving landforms connect the plaza to the sidewalk, framing a gently sweeping accessible entry path and broad stair.

These landforms continue their playful meander over the level plane of the plaza, creating outdoor rooms loosely bounded by evergreen shrubs and spring-blooming magnolias. Within the rooms, animated ensembles of richly veined marble seats are a counterpoint to sets of marble and rose granite pavers.

In one space, a fountain emerges directly from the pavement: a traditional symbol of civic landscape reimagined as a something more approachable and playful.

The plaza’s richly detailed paving surface mirrors the geometry of the Federal Building’s distinctive façade, uniting the vertical and horizontal surfaces of architecture and landscape. The exuberant treatment of materials and planting in this relatively simple space ensures that it will feel just as alive and welcoming to a lone visitor as it does hosting crowded market stalls and performances.