As fall and winter finally approaches, and as we adjust to our winter routine of spending less and less time outside, I wanted to share with you a special interior green space here in the city we can all enjoy. Below are pictures from the Ford Foundation Atrium, which is located between 42nd and 43rd Streets just west of First Avenue. Built from 1963-67, this interior garden space is one of the most popular green atriums here in New York City, and rightfully so. When you enter this green oasis you can't help be amazed by the tropical plants of all shapes and sizes that stand before you. As you follow the choreography of the pathways you find yourself eventually surrounded by these trees and shrubs, taking in the good air, and at peace thanks to the soft sound of the water feature in the center. The atrium is open to the public from 10-4 on business days and if you have never been, it is a visit that you should treat yourself to very soon. Even yesterday, on such a dreary day here in the city, my coworker and I couldn't help but feel inspired and energized after our trip through the atrium.
Different kinds of Ficus trees that have been there for years are now well established and reaching up 20+ feet into the vaulted ceiling that goes up the entire height of the building.
Below the larger trees the sloped beds are loaded with tropical shrubs like Schefflera arboricola with it's rounded palmately compound leaves, and groundcovers like Trandescantia with striking purple on the undersides of their silver-striped leaves, just to name a few. Variegated plants are incorporated too, like the arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum) to provide additional texture to the planting beds on a year-round basis. With enough plants to maintain decent humidity in the atrium there were even a number of different ferns that I was thrilled to come across.
As we strolled through my coworker and I had to marvel at how brilliantly the atrium was laid out so that it was visible and enjoyable to all those in the offices up above. A man and woman were sitting on one of the paths having an afternoon debriefing and certainly we thought they had found the perfect setting for their little meeting.
In addition to all the levels and layers on the ground floor there is a mezzanine that had large trees and shrubs in it, as well as many hanging plants that cascade down to welcome you when you enter from 43rd Street.
And even though most of the plants in the atrium are tropical plants known for their foliage, I was able to find a few wonderful flowers to educate my colleague about. Above is a tropical shrub or tree botanically known as a Calliandra. Not surprisingly the common name of this tropical shrub is known as either powderpuff or flame bush. There were also camellias in bud and a few already putting out their multi-petaled winter blossoms. Down by the water feature in the center I found a gardenia that still had a number of their intensely fragrant flowers on it, and I tell you, I could stand there and smell the gardenias all day they are so amazing. So, next time you are over on the east side around 42nd or 43rd Street, treat yourself to a walk through the Ford Foundation Atrium. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised. And lastly, as always, keep in touch with HSNY and become a member as I hope to lead a tour or two of the atrium, and perhaps others, in the upcoming months.