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Federal In-Security Downtown at Foley Square

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Security is an issue all over town, and nowhere more so than down at Federal Plaza north of City Hall. The International Court of Trade on the west side of Foley Square was built back in the late 60's as a 7-story glass block over an open plaza between Worth and Duane Streets. These days, however, "openness" in NYC is more theory than reality. So, the gang in Washington which oversees Federal projects has ordered up some improvements to the public areas around the Javits Federal Building. Originally, they called the addition now under construction along Lafayette Street a SECURITY PAVILION. Interestingly, the word "SECURITY" has been pasted over in recent weeks. So, we now have a simple "PAVILION," which sounds much less restrictive and so much more inviting and festive. Like someplace for a party, rather than a retina scan.

The International Court of Trade with the Javits Federal Building rising behind.

Now that we can't count on Spidey to protect us, steel bollards and retractable barricades are the order of the day. The Javits Plaza on the northeast side of the site has, over the years, served as a veritable treatise regarding various modes of civic security. The maze of lime green benches which wind around the Plaza would seem to be enough to confuse even the wiliest of schemers. Now, that whimsical 1997 Martha Schwarz design is going to be bull-dozed for yet another something-or-other. Alas, the new plan will not include the return of Richard Serra's massive Core-Ten steel sculpture, Tilted Arc, which was the not-so-popular resident of this plaza back in the 1980s. With all the missteps that have taken place here it's no wonder that this plaza is listed in the Project for Public Spaces Hall of Shame.

The original sign showing the plan for the "Security Pavilion".

The site 250 years ago (L), and with Serra's "Tilted Arc" (R) circa 1985.

The full-of-irony and soon-to-go Martha Schwarz configuration of the Plaza.
· Jacob K. Javits Federal Building thread [Wired New York]
· Jacob Javits Plaza: Reconsidering Intentions; John Hill, 2007 [The Graduate Center, CUNY]
· Hall of Shame [Project for Public Spaces website]