Urban Garden Room
One Bryant Park
42nd Street and Sixth Avenue
New York, New York
Designer: Wallace Roberts & Todd
A new public space has sprouted in One Bryant Park’s Bank of America building. Four leafy-green monoliths ranging from 7 to 25 feet tall now stand in the street-level atrium of the tower, a tribute to the Cook + Fox–designed building’s newly acquired LEED Platinum rating. Dubbed the Urban Garden Room, the permanent installation was commissioned by the building’s owner, the Durst Organization, and designed by a team from Wallace Roberts & Todd headed by designer Margie Ruddick and sculptor Dorothy Ruddick. The team’s goal was an immersive installation of living green sculptures. However, established technologies like the modular BioWall proved hard to adapt to the curved forms the designers wanted to create. “The building is quite crisp and clean,” said Margie Ruddick. “We didn’t want to just repeat the lines of the building.” Instead, the team hired Montreal–based firm Mosaiculture Internationale to create the sculptures in pieces using galvanized steel frames outfitted with irrigation systems and porous fabric, in which they hand-planted thousands of ferns, mosses, and lichens in mosaic patterns inspired by the fern canyons of Oregon. When complete, the sculptural parts were driven from Montreal to New York and assembled on site in September by a crew over a period of two days to create a living Stonehenge. An added side benefit? A cleaner, fresher atrium. “The sculptures scrub the air,” Ruddick said.