One Pace Plaza - Historical Context
“The horizontal five-story ‘teaching element’ structure will be so constructed as to block city street noises from filtering into classrooms...Corridors along the perimeter of the building will serve as a ‘sound moat’ to exclude the noises of surrounding city streets.” Industry Publication on the Design of 1 Pace Plaza, 1966
The area around City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge had been the subject of multiple urban renewal plans since the late 1940’s, most famously the ABC Plan of 1962 (named after its architects, Max Abramovitz, Simon Breines, and Robert W. Cutler, of SOM), which encompassed 60 acres between City Hall and Canal Street. 1 Pace Plaza was built in 1969 as part of the 1964 Brooklyn Bridge Southwest Urban Renewal Plan, which also included transforming a congested swath of industrial waterfront properties into middle-incoming housing.
The reliance on these renewal plans reflected a city, and era, enamored on the one hand by the promise of monumental urban projects, while plagued on the other by the deep-seated unrest those projects aspired to resolve. During the groundbreaking for 1 Pace Plaza, the ceremony was attended not only by Vice President Hubert Humphrey, but also by antiwar protestors demonstrating against the Vietnam War.
The architecture of 1 Pace Plaza embodies this paradox, with long perimeter corridors buffering classrooms from the street, and an 18-story dormitory tower ensuring that its students would seldom need to leave the building at all. The 1983 3-story addition, built on top of the West Building, strictly adhered to the original building’s architectural intent, duplicating its peripheral circulation patterns and severe exterior façade.
Excerpt from, “Opportunitas: A Master Plan for Pace University in NYC,” FXFowle for Pace University, May 2016