Landmarks Approves Revised Plan For Former Chase Manhattan Plaza

Rendering of 28 Liberty Street, southeast corner

A new dawn is coming for a lower Manhattan landmark. With Chase gone, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a proposal for an adaptive reuse of the plaza in front of the building formerly known as One Chase Manhattan Plaza (now 28 Liberty Street since Fosun International Ltd. bought). There will be ground floor retail and major changes to the plaza that should bring a lot of it back to its former glory.

One Chase Manhattan Plaza was designed by the legendary firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and completed in 1964 on the block bounded by Liberty, William, Pine, and Nassau streets. The 60-story building is considered a monument to the International Style. The lobby was renovated in 1993 and the plaza in 2002. It was declared an individual landmark in 2009. The designation report called it “among the largest and most important 20th century skyscrapers in New York City.” JPMorgan Chase sold it in 2013 and no longer resides there.

The tower will remain an office building and there are no current applications to change it. But the plaza will get a new life (and new light) and the ground floor and three basement levels are slated for retail. When the proposal was presented in May, it was made by SOM’s Frank Mahan. The commissioners found it to be too glassy, among other issues.

The revised presentation was made by Bill Higgins of the preservation firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, who referred to a “powerful expression of a horizontal plaza” with a tower. After Higgins came SOM’s Roger Duffy.

Out are the plans for some new benches, an extended lit lobby ceiling, and the glassy extensions on the parapet. In fact, out is the current parapet, which is not original. The new one will be bolder, thicker, and more in keeping with the original, and it will be constant along both Liberty and William Streets.

There will be new accessible entrances, restored lobby doors, and lighting for the sculpture, all trees, the stairs, and even the handrails. Non-original air intakes along Liberty Street will be removed. There will also be two glass entry cubes inspired by the Apple store on Fifth Avenue, though their size will be tweaked with LPC staff. Also to be tweaked will be the distribution of the black marble.

LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called the revised proposal a “significant improvement.” Commissioner John Gustafsson called it “extremely responsive.” Commissioner Frederick Bland said it was a “masterful presentation” and the building’s original architect, Gordon Bunshaft, would be pleased. Commissioner Roberta Washington said this was 100 times better than what they saw in May.

Fun fact: The plaza contains no right angles.

The plans were presented in extreme detail. Here is the full presentation:

28LibertyStreet_20150804_01 28LibertyStreet_20150804_02 28LibertyStreet_20150804_03 28LibertyStreet_20150804_04 28LibertyStreet_20150804_05 28LibertyStreet_20150804_06 28LibertyStreet_20150804_07 28LibertyStreet_20150804_08 28LibertyStreet_20150804_09 28LibertyStreet_20150804_10 28LibertyStreet_20150804_11 28LibertyStreet_20150804_12 28LibertyStreet_20150804_13 28LibertyStreet_20150804_14 28LibertyStreet_20150804_15 28LibertyStreet_20150804_16 28LibertyStreet_20150804_17 28LibertyStreet_20150804_18 28LibertyStreet_20150804_19 28LibertyStreet_20150804_20 28LibertyStreet_20150804_21 28LibertyStreet_20150804_22 28LibertyStreet_20150804_23 28LibertyStreet_20150804_24 28LibertyStreet_20150804_25 28LibertyStreet_20150804_26 28LibertyStreet_20150804_27 28LibertyStreet_20150804_28 28LibertyStreet_20150804_29 28LibertyStreet_20150804_30 28LibertyStreet_20150804_31 28LibertyStreet_20150804_32 28LibertyStreet_20150804_33 28LibertyStreet_20150804_34 28LibertyStreet_20150804_35 28LibertyStreet_20150804_36 28LibertyStreet_20150804_37 28LibertyStreet_20150804_38 28LibertyStreet_20150804_39 28LibertyStreet_20150804_40 28LibertyStreet_20150804_41 28LibertyStreet_20150804_42 28LibertyStreet_20150804_43 28LibertyStreet_20150804_44 28LibertyStreet_20150804_45 28LibertyStreet_20150804_46 28LibertyStreet_20150804_47 28LibertyStreet_20150804_48 28LibertyStreet_20150804_49 28LibertyStreet_20150804_50 28LibertyStreet_20150804_51 28LibertyStreet_20150804_52 28LibertyStreet_20150804_53 28LibertyStreet_20150804_54 28LibertyStreet_20150804_55 28LibertyStreet_20150804_56 28LibertyStreet_20150804_57 28LibertyStreet_20150804_58 28LibertyStreet_20150804_59 28LibertyStreet_20150804_60 28LibertyStreet_20150804_61 28LibertyStreet_20150804_62 28LibertyStreet_20150804_63 28LibertyStreet_20150804_64 28LibertyStreet_20150804_65 28LibertyStreet_20150804_66 28LibertyStreet_20150804_67 28LibertyStreet_20150804_68 28LibertyStreet_20150804_69 28LibertyStreet_20150804_70 28LibertyStreet_20150804_71 28LibertyStreet_20150804_72 28LibertyStreet_20150804_73 28LibertyStreet_20150804_74 28LibertyStreet_20150804_75 28LibertyStreet_20150804_76 28LibertyStreet_20150804_77 28LibertyStreet_20150804_78 28LibertyStreet_20150804_79 28LibertyStreet_20150804_80 28LibertyStreet_20150804_81 28LibertyStreet_20150804_82 28LibertyStreet_20150804_83 28LibertyStreet_20150804_84 28LibertyStreet_20150804_85 28LibertyStreet_20150804_86 28LibertyStreet_20150804_87 28LibertyStreet_20150804_88 28LibertyStreet_20150804_89 28LibertyStreet_20150804_90 28LibertyStreet_20150804_91 28LibertyStreet_20150804_92 28LibertyStreet_20150804_93 28LibertyStreet_20150804_94 28LibertyStreet_20150804_95 28LibertyStreet_20150804_96 28LibertyStreet_20150804_97 28LibertyStreet_20150804_98 28LibertyStreet_20150804_99 28LibertyStreet_20150804_100 28LibertyStreet_20150804_101 28LibertyStreet_20150804_102 28LibertyStreet_20150804_103 28LibertyStreet_20150804_104 28LibertyStreet_20150804_105 28LibertyStreet_20150804_106 28LibertyStreet_20150804_107

Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.

TFC Horizon