Waterfall-equipped Manhattan public park set to open this fall

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Midtown is about to get a little more lush. 

A new public park is slated to open in Manhattan’s skyscraper-filled center later this year (an exact date has not yet been announced). The green space will open in a formerly closed-off mid-block passageway which the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta is transforming into an airy escape. 

When designing, the firm was “inspired by the regional context of the river gorges of the Catskills and by the vibrant and canyon-like quality of Midtown Manhattan,” Snøhetta’s landscape director Michelle Delk told NBC of the Midtown East oasis, located at 550 Madison Ave. between 56th and 55th streets. 

Features of the grassy patch are set to include dozens of trees, 200 shrubs, 2,000 bulbs, 10,000 perennials as well as a glass canopy, intended to bring an indoor-outdoor feel. It will be divided into five separate sections, and there will also be a water feature, various vendors and that most rare of New York City amenities: a bathroom. 

550 madison public private park
A glass canopy will give the space an indoor-outdoor feel.
Snøhetta
550 madison public private park
The oasis measures in at 21,300 square feet.
Snøhetta
550 madison public private park
An exact opening date has not yet been announced.
Snøhetta
550 madison public private park
The new public park is set to open this fall.
Snøhetta
550 madison public private park
The exterior of 550 Madison Avenue (the former Sony Tower) pictured on October 12, 2016.
Annie Wermiel/NY Post
550 madison public private park
The public park is part of a reimagining of an adjacent building.
Annie Wermiel/NY Post

“A central cascading fountain aligns with the view from the interior lobby, seasonal plantings create interest and variety, food and retail kiosks, public restrooms, a circular hearth offering warmth during the winter, and a variety of fixed and moveable seating are distributed throughout,” Delk noted to the publication. 

While the urban garden will certainly make for a comparative escape from the corporate chaos of Midtown, its location between two skyscrapers ensures visitors won’t ever truly be able to be transported. 

The project has been in the works for five years, the seed for it first planted in 2016 as part of a reimagining of a single-tenant commercial tower into a multi-tenant one. Construction broke ground on it three years later, in 2019, and this Monday the first soil delivery was made to the site — a milestone. 

In a description of the 550 Madison project on Snøhetta’s website, the firm calls the 21,300-square-foot soon-to-open privately-owned public space “the only publicly-accessible vegetated open space in the East Midtown District.”

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