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Former Citicorp Center may lose its notable fountain

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The public plaza at 601 Lexington Avenue is set for redevelopment

Rendering of the plaza at 601 Lexington Avenue
Gensler

The cascading fountain that occupies the public plaza at the former Citicorp Center at 601 Lexington Avenue is facing demolition—and preservationists aren’t happy about it, reports Architects Newspaper.

The 59-story office tower was declared a city landmark in December 2016—just before the Midtown East rezoning initiative moved forward—but not everyone was aware that a clause in the landmark designation report allowed for changes to the plaza as long as they obtained approval from the City Planning Commission. The Landmarks Preservation Commission claims that the changes to the building’s exterior were approved long before it became a landmark.

So what would replace the plaza’s fountain? According to Architects Newspaper, global architecture firm Gensler is planning on giving the 200,000-square-foot site a renovation that would include a new exterior plaza and redesigned atrium. According to the firm, “[T]he new outdoor plaza and terraces make room for more dining and retail options, while enlivening the staid office component.” However, the current atrium is regarded as an important decorative feature that encourages public interaction with the space.

Gensler

“[T]oday, as I learn that the plaza we designed is in danger of demolition I ask that we consider connection once more. I would like to see the plaza live on, connecting one era of design into the next,” said Stuart Dawson, principal emeritus at Sasaki Associates, the firm who employed the fountain’s designer Mas Kinoshita and was founded by the late landscape architect Hideo Sasaki.

Landmarks commissioner John Gustafsson has declared that a definitive decision has yet to be made on whether the fountain will be cleared for demolition.