The story of Red Cube sculpture
The Tribeca Trib reported that the owners of 140 Broadway, a historic building across from Zuccotti Park, are planning to renovate their public space. Although the article focused on the potential impact of the plan on street vendors in the neighborhood, the Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) noted that something else was at risk: the integrity of the architecture of the space itself. Here is everything you need to know about the story of Red Cube sculpture at Zuccotti Park.
Completed in the 1960s, 140 Broadway was praised for its unique relationship with space. One thing you need to know about the story of Red Cube sculpture is that designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill under the direction of Gordon Bunshaft, it was one of the first projects to include a large public space in its office building plan.
The skyscraper itself occupies less than half of the allotted area, the rest is left for a large public space, in which Isamu Noguchi placed his public sculpture “Red Cube” in an unmistakably asymmetrical location. One thing you need to know about the story of Red Cube sculpture is that now the owners of 140 Broadway want to modernize the plaza and install a large planter that would offset the “red cube” and thus negate the aesthetic vision of the designers of the public space.
Dakin Hart, senior curator at the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and the Garden Museum, believes that Isamu Noguchi himself would strongly oppose the proposed changes. These changes will undoubtedly have a negative impact on Isamu Noguchi’s Red Cube and his relationship to the plaza, the building, and the surrounding space, all of which were important to him.
The statement said that the public artwork was site-specific and that the result of a long-term collaboration with Bunshaft was “to energize and complicate the relationship between the building and the square. One thing you need to know about the story of Red Cube sculpture is that when the project was built, what is now Zuccotti Park was occupied by two buildings that made the plaza at 140 Broadway look like an interior courtyard. Noguchi liked it and planned this feeling of confinement.
In the heart of New York
As conceived, the severity of the square, the way it isolates the relationship between sculpture and building, is fundamental to the work. It disproves our simple guesses about size and gives the entire space an otherworldly look that is rare in an American city, in the heart of New York’s financial district. But here too many years have passed since the complete work was worked on, defined as the red cube in the matrix of scale, material and spatial relationships for which it was designed.
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Building, space, sculpture
With homeowners and other stakeholders looking to enhance the area around 140 Broadway as a public facility, we hope that restoration of this once magnificent sculptural space will be considered. We would say, as is often the case, that the greatest public value of the work (building + space + sculpture) is that it works properly again.