Volume 21, Number 15 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 22 - 28, 2008

Downtown Express photos by Jefferson Siegel

This week preliminary work began on Liberty St. around Louise Nevelson Plaza. Nevelson’s sculptures will be restored and the plaza’s broken equipment will be fixed as part of the project, which also includes repairing the nearby streets.

Work finally begins around Louise Nevelson Plaza

By Sisi Wei

Four years after former Gov. George Pataki stated “The damaged and collapsing plaza, located at the corner of William St. and Maiden Lane, will be transformed into a tree filled open space with an outdoor café,” the Louise Nevelson Plaza is undergoing a major makeover as part of the Liberty St. Reconstruction Project funded by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Scheduled reconstruction began on Liberty St. on Mon., Aug. 18 as part of the street project by the city’s Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation. When construction on the plaza itself begins, the entire area will no longer be accessible to pedestrians, said J.R. Martine, a D.D.C. spokesperson.

Currently decorated with a cracked water fountain, eight stone benches, a few trees and its most prominent feature — seven sculptures by Louise Nevelson — the plaza is getting new components.

Though the outdoor café will not become a reality, frequent visitors of the plaza can look forward to the installment of an array of new lighting. New glass and stainless steel benches with nighttime illumination will be replacing the old stone benches for increased appeal and seating, according to the Web site of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson, the architecture company the L.M.D.C. commissioned to redesign the plaza.

All of the current plants and trees will be replaced with and the plaza will have additional "uplighting" at trees and within the planting beds, according to Martine. D.D.C. is considering either monarch birches or common honey locusts for the new trees. New lighting will also surround the main sculpture at the plaza's west end from inside a new raised granite base. The base will also provide more seating along the sculpture's perimeter.

S.M.H. has also planned for an improved open space for evening and weekend use, improved paving materials and a re-designed Federal Reserve Bank security booth. All seven Nevelson sculptures will be restored to their original condition.

The L.M.D.C. gave just over $2 million for the plaza’s reconstruction.

The reconstruction on Liberty St. between Nassau St. and Gold St. will repair all components of the street — including water mains, combined sewer, sanitary sewer, curbs, sidewalks and roadway. Construction will also be taking place on Maiden Lane from William St. to Water St. and Pearl St. from Fulton St. to John St. Scheduled construction hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays.

The plaza and street work is expected to be finished by the fall of 2009.





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