Located at 320 East 43rd street, the building could look like any office complex in New York. However, if the visitor is curious and peeks into the lobby, you are transported to an environment completely away from the busy streets, to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a hidden forest in the middle of the big city. This architectural jewel, paradoxically, is more than five decades old and is still unknown to many.
The magical point houses the headquarters of the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice, an institution with a great history in favor of actions for social good. At the center of the enclosure there is an atrium where a spectacular garden unfolds, with a variety of 40 species of subtropical trees, vines and bushes covering every corner. There is also a mirror of water with a fountain, whose sound adds an additional element for visitors.
Since its inauguration in 1967, the Ford Foundation has occupied the emblematic point. With the activities they carry out, they seek to promote social good and recognize those who dedicate their lives to achieving it, according to the institution’s website.
green space too offers a sensory section, allowing people who are blind or have low vision to enjoy the experience from touch, and interact with the plants that are displayed there. The tour includes signage on Braille writing, as well as an audio guide.
“Our spaces offer unique accessibility features to create an equitable experience for every visitor,” the website reads. With this display of natural beauty, together with the social sense that inspires the institution, the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice building is a must-see for tourists and residents of New York.
To get to this oasis in New York, it is important to maintain the Covid-19 infection prevention protocols, such as the use of face masks and presenting proof of vaccination. The garden in the central part of the building welcomes visitors from Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.. On Saturdays it is only open when there is an exhibition in the gallery.
The building was devised in the 1960s Based on a commission by Henry Ford II, grandson of the founder of the automobile company that bears the family name. The architects firm Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates He was in charge of the concept, which immediately became a reference on the New York skyline.
The facility occupies the area of an almost perfect square and spans the entire block between 42nd and 43rd streets, in the heart of Manhattan. The spectacular garden in the atrium was in charge of the designer Dan Kiley and is considered the first of its kind in the United States.
In 1997, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated it an official landmark after verifying that the building withstood the test of time and remains faithful to the original vocation.
During 2015, it took place an intense remodeling by the firm Gensler, with the mission of adapting all interior spaces to modern safety standards. These works required a temporary closure of the facilities and the cost amounted to about US$190 million, according to a chronicle of The New York Times.
“We are proud of the steps we have taken and continue to take to ensure that our physical space reflects our commitment to being a responsible and conscientious manager of the building in which we work and the world outside our doors,” the foundation said after the reopening in 2018.
Now, In addition to its natural charm, the facilities have strict sustainability certificates, that allow considerable savings in water and electricity. The doors and work tables are made with sustainable chain wood and the office furniture has more than 20% recycled content.
In the renovation work, even the smallest details were taken care of. In the sheet available on its website, it is specified that all paints, coatings, adhesives and sealants are free of harmful chemicals to guarantee a high level of air quality in spaces.