See Snøhetta’s lush public garden now open at 550 Madison Avenue


Aaron Ginsburg, 11.17.2022

The new public garden at Philip Johnson’s 550 Madison Avenue building opened this week, the final component of the postmodern landmark’s renovation led by the Olayan Group. Designed by Snøhetta, the lush privately-owned public space (POPS) is located adjacent to 550 Madison in a formerly enclosed mid-block passageway. Increasing the public space at the site by 50 percent, the half-acre garden is now the largest in Midtown East.

The garden connects to the newly renovated lobby, designed by Gensler to respect Johnson’s original arcade. The architects added a rear window in the lobby that overlooks the landscaped garden.

The outdoor space has 48 trees, 200 shrubs, 6,300 bulb plants, and 10,000 herbaceous understory plants. The garden also offers gender-inclusive public restrooms and three food and beverage kiosks.

A 70-foot glass canopy covering the space can collect 93,000 gallons of rainwater every year to be used to sustainably water the entire garden. Snøhetta worked alongside landscape and horticulture companies Phyto, The Dirt Company, SiteWorks, Arup, and Adamson Associates Architects.

“Snøhetta’s design for the new garden transforms the streets surrounding the iconic 550 Madison building into accessible, lavishly vegetated, and highly visible public space,” Michelle Delk, partner and landscape architect at Snøhetta, said.

“A new lobby window and redesigned storefronts honor Philip John’s original design. We are honored to help return this important part of Midtown to its visitors while contributing to the celebrated vibrancy of New York City.”

The public green space consists of five different sections centered around a tranquil body of water.

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