Quiet Spaces

by Wendy Giman, 12/18/2013

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  • Ford Foundation Atrium
    320 E. 43rd St., Midtown East, Manhattan
    Built in 1967 when architects of office buildings were just starting to consider public spaces, the Ford Foundation Atrium remains a model for most, which is fitting for a private foundation focused on social change. With a tropical garden planted in a 12-story glass atrium, the building offers a chance to recharge after shopping or before catching the train at nearby Grand Central Terminal. The garden's multitiered space leads down to a meditative pond with an arboricola tree in the center, creating a sensory experience of a greenhouse in the big city. It took awhile to perfect, however; the landmarked building originally used temperate plants including magnolia and redwood trees that perished in the warm interior (think: sun and glass). Today a variety of subtropical plants thrive, while the building's workers benefit from having a generous amount of natural light (and nature) in their offices. The atrium is free and open to the public during business hours.

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