top of page

Lever House Open Court Plaza Redesign Concept

This iconic building, Lever House located in Midtown Manhattan, NY, "marked a watershed in U.S. architecture when completed in 1952. Located on the west side of Park Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets, the corporate headquarters, with its facade made of blue-green glass and stainless steel mullions, was one of the first glass-walled International Style office buildings in the country."

"The structure consists of two intersecting masses, balanced in their proportions but contrasting in shape. A two-story horizontal block containing an open court occupies the entire site with a 21-story tower located on the north. The columns and the ground floor court create a large open plaza allowing entrances to the lobby to be located away from pedestrian traffic. Inside, the typical floor is characterized by large, open office areas with easy access to individual offices, and service cores at the western end."

"Within a decade of its construction, the initial enthusiasm for Lever House gave way to a universal recognition of its pivotal importance to American architecture. In 1982, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Lever House an official landmark."

Safe to say, it's not 1950 anymore nor is it 1982. An upgrade to the Lever House is much needed. As part of a project, I was faced with the task to bring this space up to date while also making it sustainable and keeping the structure the same. I was to design and furnish the open plaza with intention. This was the result (done without drawing).

1. Observations: My main observations are the seating areas and how they are open benches on both sides of the space. Also, there is a place to play shuffle board and is in the element of the outdoors. There are implied thresholds and two walkways to gain access to either side of the space. The space is located in the heart of a busy city but doesn't break away from the hustle and bustle of it all. I noticed there are no particular views of this space other than the building surrounding it and they offer tours of this particular space so peace and quiet or a break from the work day may not be easily achieved here. That being said, the seating situation may not be ideal to gain a moment of "me" time.

2. Intention: Since these are people who still wear suits and are more than likely in a chair most of the day, I want this space to promote activity, peace, and conversation if desired.

3. Method: Lets replace the shuffle board strip with a 3-5 hole putt-putt zone for people to have a little fun on their breaks, get thoracic spine/hip rotation to loosen up the body from sitting, and to have others join in with them if desired. In the large elevated planter, adding a solar powered water fountain of some sort will give the feeling of relaxation while still being in the city and also bring the healing effects from being around water into play. Two seats pointing diagonally towards one another and a small table between them would be added to each corner; promoting conversation if desired, observation, or somewhere to have coffee/lunch with a colleague. One each side where the benches are, replacing them with Alcove seating would allow rest but also quiet and peaceful "me" time for those who may need a moment to themselves. The placement of the desired design would reinforce the intention by having implied thresholds; when you see the alcove seating areas, you'll know the person is having personal time versus when you walk further ahead, you can see places for more community and conversation to take place and a place to be active if you so choose to be. There is also still a walkway to avoid the active area and take a peaceful stroll by the fountain, promoting a peaceful getaway.

4. Furniture Selection: For furniture, Vitra was the winner for all furniture selection. The Alcove furniture selected would need a more protective and sustainable material than offered. Likewise, the tables would need to be weather-proofed or enhanced in some fashion as well. The concept of the unique furniture is what drew me here, not the materials. The product can be upgraded with better materials to sustain variable weather conditions.


bottom of page