Landworks Studio is proud to announce that it has been selected as a 2012 Honor Award recipient by both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects for its work at 200 Fifth Avenue. Landworks Studio and Studios Architecture joined together to sensitively remodel the historic building at 200 Fifth Avenue in New York. The building once functioned as a grand hotel, and, starting in 1950, it served for decades as a hub for toy manufacturers as the International Toy Center. One of many buildings that forged the architectural heritage of New York’s Flatiron District, its U-shaped configuration was considered highly innovative when it was built in 1909, due to its ability to bring natural light into the building’s interior and its creation of a courtyard for the building’s tenants.
In 2007, the new owner, L&L Holding Company, hired the Landworks Studio and Studios Architecture team to re-conceptualize and reinvigorate the fifteen-story commercial building by improving the quality of the workplace environment while preserving its historic architectural quality. Energy efficiency, water reduction, daylighting, green building materials, and improved indoor air quality were a just few of the renovations planned to improve the building’s environmental performance, not only to save on energy costs over time, but also to create better working conditions. In addition to removing harmful toxins, circulating fresh air, and flooding spaces with natural light, the project also incorporated access to outdoor spaces such as the remodeled courtyard. Beyond providing fresh air in a verdant setting—a rare privilege for many Manhattan residents—the courtyard responds to the changing dynamics of contemporary office culture by encouraging chance encounters and offering respite from workplace stress.
The team’s proposal creates a four-tiered series of office spaces located mainly within the footprint of the existing building. The terraces that result gave Landworks Studio the opportunity to create an elegant and functional landscape to serve everyday users, as well as large groups during special events.
Three main landscape elements insert new program into the historic armature: a vegetated ground plane, folding tray, and light cloud. First, the ground plane is constructed of a stainless steel framework planted with a dense carpet of moss. Hovering six inches above, a pre-cast concrete tray contorts to form a continuous walking surface, planters, and benches. Stainless steel planters containing ferns slide into benches along the edges of the tray, and in-grade light strips and trench drains slide through the joints of the concrete tray. The light cloud extends out from the lobby in the lowest terrace and reemerges on the upper terrace to create a memorable landscape experience for evening events.
Through the insertion of a contemporary landscape into a significant but dated historic structure, the building at 200 Fifth Avenue is transformed to enable the complex and dynamic interactions that define contemporary working relationships. This accomplishment is the result of rigorous collaboration between client, architect, and landscape architect, whose unified vision for the renovation increased the property’s real estate demand, reduced its environmental footprint, and most importantly, made it a vibrant, enjoyable, and functional space for its users.
Architect: Studios Architecture
Construction Manager: Structure Tone Inc.
MEP Engineers: FMC Engineering
Lighting Consultant: Johnson Light Studio
Green Building Consultant: CodeGreen
Precast Concrete Fabricator: Concreteworks Studio
Landscaping Contractor: Harder Tree and Landscape Services, Inc.
Architectural Metal Fabricator: A-Val Architectural Metal Corp.
Bamboo Supplier: New England Bamboo
Moss Supplier: Moss Acres
Photograph: Andrea Varutti