31 in 31: #1

At the beginning of 2007 I documented thirty buildings in the thirty days between grad school semesters. The explorations resulted in my 30 in 30 series, one of the better things on this blog, if I do say so. I've decided to bring back the feature, but this time it's 31 in 31 because, well, August has 31 days. Some of the buildings in this new series will make it into my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton), but just as many will not. (I'll leave it to you, dear readers, to guess which is which.) As well I'm expanding the feature to include a few buildings in progress, paralleling a section of the book that looks ahead, but also illustrating the online and print research that happens alongside my "on the ground" research from walking and driving around the city.

Phyto Universe

On the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and 58th Street, across the street from the Bloomberg Tower, is a three-story building (by BBG-BBGM, I believe) where signage seems to be as important as the curtain wall. At least the signage is incorporated into the lower portion of each floor's exterior wall, New York & Company on the middle floor and Phyto Universe on the upper floor. The latter stands out because behind the signage sits a green wall, one designed by the maestro of vegetative walls, Patric Blanc.

Phyto Universe

Completed in 2006, the third-floor spa was designed by Truisi Suk Design Group. The green wall surrounds the spa-goers, removing them from the hustle bustle of the city below, or as Phyto Universe describes themselves, "a sanctuary nestled in the vibrant epicenter of Manhattan." For those without one hour and $150 to spend, the green wall is best seen at night, when it takes on more prominence and makes the New York & Company store below look even more humdrum.