Rockefeller Plaza Reconstruction, Plan Approval, and the Future

One of the most well-known locations in New York City has been going over possible plans for a little revitalization. With proposals going through the Landmarks Preservation Commission over the last few months, the main aim was to improve foot traffic and overall flow to the area. Many submitted their plans in the hopes that their creative vision would be the one to transform the famed landmark. It was in late April that the LPC finally approved a plan from developer Tishman Speyer and architectural firm Gabellini Sheppard Associates. The project’s approval status was up in the air for a while, especially since it went back for some changes in January, but all appear to be ready to move forward. 

Rockefeller Plaza: A History

Rockefeller Center spans some 22 acres with almost 20 commercial buildings, and the famous plaza is the home to the iconic statue of Prometheus by Paul Manship, an ice rink, and a seasonal Christmas tree whose lighting is a major event drawing thousands every year. The site was home to several notable locations before Rockefeller Center existed, including botanical gardens before ownership ceded to Columbia University. The Metropolitan Square Corporation formed in the 1920’s, involving John D. Rockefeller Jr. 

Plans were to move the Metropolitan Opera there, but the stock market crash dashed these plans. Rockefeller instead brought in RCA, NBC, and RKO to start a mass entertainment complex. His efforts were memorialized when the official name of the site changed to Rockefeller Center in 1931. Today its legacy as an entertainment mecca continues, and the approved plans to revitalize the location will allow more visitors to enjoy what it has to offer. 

What Will the Current Plans Take to Finish? 

The plans, as the developers have revealed, will connect the concourse and the sunken plaza once again, helping to improve the flow of foot traffic. Still, it aims to increase the available seating in the area, as well as landscaping. The John D. Rockefeller Jr. monument is also going to be relocated to the southern part of the Channel Gardens and the pools. As a result, its current location hopes to see less congestion. 

The scope of the changes will call for expertise from a number of trades. This will include:

  • Increased greenery. Plans cover the inclusion of multiple planters all over the plaza, including both permanent, tiered installations that will outline the plaza and seasonal, removable ones for warmer seasons. Contractors will need to construct new installations and also re-purpose or completely remove existing ones. 
  • Storefront restorations. Along the seasonal skating rink, developers intend to return to the historic storefronts that line the area, increasing line of sight and natural light for patrons inside and a more stylish curb appeal for passerby. 
  • A seasonal, fanning stairway. The current impression is that in the spring, summer, and early autumn, there will be a wide, open stairway to allow for an easier flow of traffic that can be removed once cold weather sets in and the ice rink opens. How this is to be implemented has yet to be revealed. 
  • New seating construction and new accessibility. Seating in the sunken plaza will be increased along its northern edge, and an enclosed elevator will be installed near here to take pedestrians to the street above. 

There is no official start date yet, but with construction resuming in many parts of the metro area, bids should be opening very soon. It will be any firm’s game once the race to groundbreaking begins. 

 

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