“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” – Thomas Wolfe
How right you are, Mr. Wolfe. New York. In a city where 9 different restaurants on a block is average and where subway serenaders and bucket musicians are commonplace, I instantly felt a sense of pride in this metropolitan mayhem. Sure, my address says Jersey but my home is here in NYC.
I am happily writing to you at the David Rubenstein Atrium near the Lincoln Center in the Upper West Side. (Yes, I understand this isn’t about food… but I must write a post about this glorious place. After all, what if you need a place to relax or do work in after a food experience?)
In a city that charges rent to its street vendors, I have come to find that space is a precious commodity. This lovely atrium is open to the public and offers its residents (and you know.. tourists) a place to kick back and use their FREE (YES! FREE! HOLY MACKEREL!) WIFI. I was hesitant to come to the Atrium after reviewing another user’s blog saying that there were no outlets for laptops. However, there are a few outlets that are scattered throughout the place. It’s better than no outlets at all. You just have to wait for a seat to open up and pray that your battery has enough juice to make it. [Or you can be like the gentleman (I use the term very loosely), who is sitting right next to me, and just invaded personal space to plug in a cord that isn't far enough to reach his own table so he pulls up a chair next to the one I am sitting at.]
Formerly known as the Harmony Atrium, the DRA is one of roughly 503 Privately Owned Public Spaces (also known as POPS) in NYC created under a program that offers zoning incentives for buildings to provide accessible spaces to the public. It was named after the Vice Chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, David Rubenstein, for his generous $10 million gift to the Bravo Campaign. Designed by Todd Williams and Billie Tsien, the Atrium reflects the various materials used throughout the Lincoln Center and is the first LEED certified, “green” building on the Lincoln Center campus. (Lincolncenter.org)
Entering from the doors closest to the Lincoln center, my eyes are immediately drawn to a vertical garden. Thousands of green leaves and plants hang in an organized chaos on the wall. Despite it being completely fake, the green vegetation is easy on the eyes and gives the atrium a certain feeling of serenity. There are two of these vertical gardens on either end of the atrium.
Walking in a little further, there is a little café called ‘wichcraft. I’m sure I’ll be writing about this little place in the future. But for now, know that it is the first Upper West Side outpost and is overseen by the chef/owner of the Craft family of restaurants, Tom Colicchio (I know, I died when I found out!) I had a DELICIOUS little oatmeal creme cookie and my favorite, DIET COKE. Open daily, they offer breakfast items, pastries, sandwiches, and soups that are made from scratch every day. They also offer a full bar with a selection of small plates in the evening. Stay tuned in the near future for further reviews on this lovely café.
There are many tables gathered in the center of the atrium. On one of the walls there is an art installation by the Dutch textile artisan, Claudy Jongstra. Grey ovals are playfully scattered on a pleasant goldenrod background. It’s as if someone dropped a few olives on a golden plate and watched them roll around. This pattern is mimicked on the ceiling with the ovals being the windows and the background still being the beautiful yellow with a bit more orange. The ceiling also displays 16 “occuli” lighting fixtures that bring natural light and state-of-the-art illumination into the Atrium.
On the other wall is a huge screen that is almost as long as the artwork across from it. The media wall occasionally shows performance information at the Lincoln center but mainly serves as a canvas for media artwork. It is not distracting at all like most media walls I have seen. It’s quite a pleasant distraction.
Kitty corner to where I am sitting, there is a floor-to-ceiling fountain. Though the many long metal poles that are protruding from the ceiling are bizarre and slightly unsettling, the overall tinkling sound of the fountain is relaxing.
With an information desk and public restrooms (on the second floor), this space is beautiful and perfect. It is open from 8am-10pm on Mon-Fri and from 9am-10pm on Sat- Sun. Definitely check it out!
As always, Eat On <3