The largest public space at the World Financial Center, the Winter Garden was designed as a grand glass hall with a huge bay window facing the Hudson River. An integral element to the World Financial Center and Battery Park City, the Winter Garden was designed for the general public as well as for those working in the financial district. It is a grand public hall unlike any other space in New York. The Winter Garden includes 16 native American palms in a rectangular grove. The floor around them is paved in diagonal patterns of marble. Skyscraper tops are visible through the roof, and a panoramic view of the Hudson River appears through the grove.
Collateral damage from the attacks of September 11, 2001 destroyed the pedestrian bridge that functioned as the main entrance to the Winter Garden. As a result, a new entrance had to be entirely reconceived. The design for the new east entrance created a wall-sized expanse of very clear glass panels supported by the most minimal structure. By stripping away the original granite façade and opening views of the interior structure, the building’s luminous public space can be seen as a destination for all of downtown. This glassy screen has become the new front door into and through the World Financial Center, the Winter Garden and the riverfront.
In addition to the glass wall, several elements of the Winter Garden have been reconfigured. The original marble floor pattern extends into the new entry, and the original stone have new openings to allow for the easy movement of large numbers of people. Upon entering, visitors face a large semi-circular wall of backlit glass ribs that follow the curve of the grand stair, and guide movement to either side. This new interior wall is set significantly back from the entry to expand the lobby area. The retail storefronts on the outer curved wall have also been redone as all-glass walls. Stairs and elevators flanking the entry allow visitors to bypass the main space and go directly to the second floor. Upstairs, a 110-foot long balcony faces out through the open façade, creating an indoor viewing area for the World Trade Center site and future memorials and buildings.
The renovation received the 2002 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Project Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy.