David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center — 67 to 72.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center has a number of electrical outlets available throughout the space and free wifi; unsurprisingly, these amenities attract the laptop brigade.  This is almost always a very good indicator that a space is quiet, and it certainly is true here. In addition to free power and wifi, the Atrium offers two well-maintained restrooms with extra facilities on the second floor.

We had previously stated that the public space at 575 5th Avenue (L’Oreal building) was our favorite publicly owned private space (POPS), but that was before we visited the David Rubenstein Atrium. Everything about this POPS is just right. There is plenty of seating, with at least a dozen tables available to the public.  A ‘wichcraft offers  sandwiches and coffee (but you are not required to purchase from them and may bring in food from outside), and you can purchase tickets for Lincoln Center events.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the atrium on three occasions. During our two weekday visits we found the space to be pretty serene, until, that is, a Lincoln Center promo came on a very large screeen.  Fortunately, the promo wasn’t terribly loud and only ran about a minute, but it is played every half hour or so.

The place was packed during a lunch time visit, yet it remained peaceful.  Background music played softly in the background, and while there were one or two noisy people on cell phones,  everyone else was well behaved.

Our weekend visit on a busy Sunday clocked in at 72.5 decibels.  Once again there was music playing softly in the background (bossa nova) but the bass needed to be lowered a notch. There were fewer laptop workers and more couples or small groups chatting and having a nosh. Still very pleasant, just a bit louder than during the work week.

The David Rubenstein Atrium is definitely worth visiting if you want a place to relax or to work remotely.  One caution: free performances are held in the space from time to time, but they generally are scheduled in the evening.  You can visit the website listed below and click on the “free weekly performances” link to get the current schedule.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

reet (betw. Broadway and Columbus Avenue), New York, NY 11023

WEBSITE

David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center

180 Maiden Lane – 65.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

180 Maiden Lane’s newly renovated lobby is a privately owned public space (POPS) offering plenty of seating and amenities for the public.  The POPS has only been available from mid-summer 2016 because an extensive renovation was required after Superstorm Sandy.  A couple of years later and the lobby has finally been opened.  It is a clean, bright, and attractive space, but despite an otherwise excellent reading of 65.7 decibels, the soundscape at 180 Maiden Lane could be better.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There is a lot of seating inside the public lobby, and the design of the space is mostly thoughful.  It’s clear that attempts were made to introduce softer objects and materials–plants, trees, and a very comfortable and cushy astroturf in one seating area–that could mitigate the sound amplification caused by all of the hard surfaces, but there is a lot of glass and stone and the space felt live.  The only obvious and loud sound came from the security officers’ walkie-talkies which were set on loud.  Every screech, every beep, every word bounced around the space, leaving us to wonder just how loud it would get if the place was packed (which, we acknowledge, may never happen).

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Since seating is provided throughout the main floor lobby, there are some smaller seating areas that will likely be more manageable than others.  It felt quieter, for example, on the east side, which bordered South Street.  That said, there was a constant mechanical hum throughout the lobby–we think was coming from the escalator leading to the second level, as the sound got louder as we walked towards it.  The hum wasn’t awful but it was constant; it sounded like white noise.

The lobby has one cafe (it was closed during our visit) that offers the usual deli staples of sandwiches, coffee, bottled drinks, etc., but you can bring your own food and drink and enjoy the space.   It was not crowded during our visit, and given how live the space was with a small group of people about, we suspect it could be significantly louder if fully occupied.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

180 Maiden Lane provides two public bathrooms that are clean and disabled accessible.   And it also offers one amenity that no other POPS offers: free charging stations for public use.  Both bathrooms and the charging stations can be found near the Pine Street entrance.

If you are wandering around the Seaport area and want to grab a quick lunch from one of the food trucks in the area, head on over to 180 Maiden Lane to enjoy your nosh, rest your feet, and charge your devices.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

180 Maiden Lane (betw. South and Front Streets), New York, NY 10038

WEBSITE

180 Maiden Lane

120 Park Avenue — 69.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This is the first time that we recommend avoiding a space that registered under 70 decibels.  Why?  120 Park Avenue’s privately owned public space (POPS) is a covered,  climate controlled indoor space that is stark, cold, and uncomfortable.  The space is so live that every cough, cell phone conversation, or unexpected sound is amplified, bouncing sharply off of all the hard surfaces and rebounding around the room.   Usually indoor POPS are nicer because the space is meant to be enjoyed by building tenants, but not this one.

The tables and chairs provided for the public looked a bit old, but they exist.  There also is plenty of stone bench seating.  Some people were eating during our visit, but there were a number of cell phone users.  And every time someone dragged a chair across the floor, the reading jumped–the sound was so jarring and loud that its effect was not unlike the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  Apparently no one knows how to pick up a chair to move it to the preferred spot, because it happen a number of times during our short visit.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

It was clear that the reason for the low reading was that the space has very high ceilings.  Other than that, there were no other elements that mitigated or softened the noise.

If there are public bathrooms available, we couldn’t find them.

This is a space that people use but do not enjoy.  Many appeared to use the space to make phone calls as they wandered through.  We found the 120 Park Avenue POPS to be absolutely uncomfortable and our least favorite POPS to date.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION

120 Park Avenue (at the corner of 41st Street), New York, NY 10017

WEBSITE

NYC overview of the 120 Park Avenue POPS

60 Wall Street (Deutsche Bank Building) — 66.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The lobby of 60 Wall Street, the American headquarters of Deutsche Bank, is a privately owned public space (POPS).  A POPS is an “amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, in exchange for additional floor area.”  Amenities typically are outdoor plazas or seating areas that may be used by the general public without charge, but occasionally, as here, the space is indoors and climate controlled.

During an early afternoon visit, the lobby of 60 Wall Street registered a positively peaceful 66.9 decibels.  Even though every inch of the lobby is clad in stone, glass, or some other hard surface, peace is maintained due to the high vaulted atrium.  The lobby is much louder during the morning and evening rush as employees stream into the space and head to the elevators, but the space was not empty during our visit.  In fact, three separate tour groups were assembling in the lobby, and many of the tables and chairs were occupied.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The lobby has a Starbucks, newsstand, and a deli/cafe available for food and drinks, but you are not required to purchase from them to sit at the tables.  One public toilet is also provided, but use it only if absolutely necessary as it can best be described as challenging.  The rest of the space is very well maintained.

HOURS

Covered pedestrian space open 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. | Arcade open 24 hours

LOCATION

60 Wall Street (betw. William and Pearl), NY, NY 10005

WEBSITE

60 Wall Street

Trump Tower — 74.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Trump Tower’s privately owned public space (POPS) is not a comfortable place.  A POPS is an “amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, in exchange for additional floor area.”  Amenities typically are outdoor plazas or seating areas that may be used by the general public without charge, but occasionally, as here, the space is indoors and climate controlled.  The Trump Tower POPS space is located on the same lower floor as various Trump-designated food options: Trump Cafe, Trump Grill, Trump Bar, and Trump Ice Cream (surprisingly, the public bathrooms were not identified as Trump Toilets).   In any event, it’s a little difficult to see where the space for the various eating options begins and the POPS space ends, but the tables in the open area near the escalators are definitely available to the public.

Our reading was taken on a not very busy Sunday afternoon, and even in a relatively empty space the meter clocked in at almost 75 decibels.  We weren’t surprised, as the design insures a noisy space.  A loud water feature takes up one wall, and background music (not too loud, but unnecessary) and general chatter bounce off of every hard surface.  And almost every surface in this POPS is a hard surface.  The only soft elements available to absorb or deflect sound were a few floppy plants and some cushions on the chairs in the public space.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

But no matter how loud the space is it will not approach the loudness of the decor.  It’s exactly what you would expect in a Trump building: heavily veined stone, mirrored glass, and lots of brass.  The excessive use of mirrors was disorienting, especially coupled with the lights bouncing off of every brassy surface.

It’s clear that the space is meant to impress, and it did–we were impressed with how uncomfortable it was.  There is little that can be done to make the space truly comfortable save a gut renovation.   In short, the Trump Tower POPS should not be your first (or last) choice for a quiet respite.  That said, it’s a veritable tourist spot–tourists seemed to make up a large percentage of the visitors–and given Donald Trump’s current political run, a visit to the Trump Tower POPS could be instructive.  We think you will leave with a fuller understanding of Trump the man, the candidate, and the brand.

The public restrooms are clean.  There’s that.

HOURS

8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

725 Fifth Avenue (betw. 56th and 57th Streets), New York, NY 10022

WEBSITE

APOPS review of Trump Tower POPS

601 Lexington — 68.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The atrium at 601 Lexington (formerly known as the Citigroup Center) is a covered, climate controlled privately owned public space (POPS).  A POPS is “an amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, in exchange for additional floor area.”  POPS can vary in quality, but the covered public spaces tend to offer more amenities, like cafes and public restrooms, and they tend to be better maintained.  The atrium at 601 Lexington is no exception, as it offers plenty of amenities for visitors.

There are lots of tables and chairs in the multi-story atrium, which is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and delis.  But as with all POPS, you don’t have to buy anything from the commercial spaces within the public space to use the amentities.  In fact, you can bring in your own food or beverages and use the tables and chairs that are provided.

The plaza outside of the building is also available for public use 24 hours, but it’s uncomfortably loud during the work week due to street noise and a really noisy water feature.  The atrium, in contrast, was serene even though more than half of the tables were taken, no doubt due, at least in part, to its height.

The public space is served by large and clean bathrooms.   The only drawback is that the restrooms use the dreaded and LOUD Xcelerator hand dryer and there is no alternative hand drying option.

If you want to rest your feet, have a coffee, or just stop to relax somewhere in midtown, 601 Lexington is an excellent option.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

601 Lexington Avenue (betw. 53rd and 54th Streets), New York, NY 11022

WEBSITE

NYC POPS Info on 601 Lexington

David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center — 67 to 72.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We had previously stated that the public space at 575 5th Avenue (L’Oreal building) was our favorite publicly owned private space (POPS), but that was before we visited the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.   Everything about this POPS is just right.  There is plenty of seating, with at least a dozen tables available to the public.  A ‘wichcraft offers  sandwiches and coffee (but you are not required to purchase from them and may bring in food from outside), and you can purchase tickets for Lincoln Center events.

The Atrium has a number of electrical outlets available throughout the space and free wifi; unsurprisingly, these amenities attract the laptop brigade.  This is almost always a very good indicator that a space is quiet, and it certainly is true here.   Additionally, there are two well-maintained restrooms in the Atrium and additional facilities on the second floor.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the atrium on three occasions.  During our two weekday visits we found the space to be pretty serene, until, that is, a Lincoln Center promo came on a very large screeen.  Fortunately, the promo wasn’t terribly loud and only ran about a minute, but it is played every half hour or so.  The place was packed during a lunch time visit, yet it remained peaceful.  Background music played softly in the background, and while there were one or two noisy people on cell phones,  everyone else was well behaved.

Our weekend visit on a busy Sunday clocked in at 72.5 decibels.  Once again there was music was playing softly in the background (bossa nova) but the bass needed to be lowered a notch. There were fewer laptop workers and more couples or small groups chatting and having a nosh.  Still very pleasant, just a bit louder than during the work week.

The David Rubenstein Atrium is definitely worth visiting if you want a place to relax or to work remotely.  One caution: free performances are held in the space from time to time, but they generally are scheduled in the evening.  You can visit the website listed below and click on the “free weekly performances” link to get the current schedule.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

reet (betw. Broadway and Columbus Avenue), New York, NY 11023

WEBSITE

David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center

550 Madison — 71.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The lobby of 550 Madison Avenue is is a privately owned public space (POPS).  A POPS is an “amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, in exchange for additional floor area.”   The amenities typically offered are outdoor plazas or seating areas that may be used by the general public without charge.  Here, the space is indoors and climate controlled, and there are plenty of table and chairs available to the public.  There are a couple of cafes in the lobby should you wish to purchase food or beverages, but you may bring food or drink from outside of the building and use the tables and chairs.

The space was very busy during our visit.  Given all of the people who were present, the sound level was manageable.  There were banging noises from the Rieu Cafe every time the barista emptied the espresso maker.  This added to the chatter and made the decibel level rise, but overall we found the space to be very tolerable.

Public toilets are available; they are located in the SONY Wonder Technology Lab (closer to the 56th Street exit).  The restrooms are hardly fabulous, but they are mostly clean and well-stocked, just suffering from a little neglect.

HOURS

Arcade is open 24 hours

Covered pedestrian space is open 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

The space may be closed occasionally for private events.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

550 Madison Avenue

575 Fifth Avenue (L’Oreal Building) — 70.7 decibels

575 5th Avenue (L’Oreal Building) is a privately owned private space (POPS).  The lobby is a covered and climate controlled public space with plenty of tables, chairs, and benches for sitting and eating.  Some POPS are obvious afterthoughts, with little effort to make them useful or comfortable, but not this one.  One sure sign that a POPS is considerate and well thought out is whether it actually is used.  By that measure, the POPS at 575 5th Avenue is a success–it was packed when we visited.

Despite the crowds–every table taken and very little seating was available–and even though the lobby was clad in stone with metal and glass accents, the space registered a very reasonable 70.7 decibels.  It’s clear that the high atrium must wick the noise away, because the space was fairly comfortable.

The POPS has a newstand and Starbucks, but you don’t have to purchase anything to use the space.  In fact, many of the people eating at the tables came in with food they had obviously purchased elsewhere.  The lobby also has public bathrooms and they are clean!  And no hand dryers, just paper towels!  This is our favorite indoor POPS.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to midnight every day

LOCATION

575 5th Avenue (at the corner of 47th Street), NY, NY 10018

WEBSITE

apops/MAS review of 575 5th Avenue

Bel Canto Condominium — 61.1 decibels

Not pretty, but at 61.1 decibels who cares?

Not pretty, but at 61.1 decibels who cares?

The Bel Canto Condominium is home to a publicly owned private space (POPS) that was absolutely serene on our weekday noontime visit.  There were only seven other people present, some eating, some not, and everyone was quiet–no conversations, no cell phones, no extraneous noise.  The building owners must have invested in special windows because the location was busy and there was a lot of street noise outside the building, but inside it was as quiet as a library reading room.

That said, you wouldn’t call this POPS pretty.  According to the APOPS review linked below, there used to be a restaurant in the space but it must have closed some time ago.  On our visit there were simply a number of mismatched chairs in various states of disrepair coupled with plain-bordering-on-ugly utilitarian tables.  There also were absolutely no amenities offered–no cafe, newstand, or public toilets–just peace and quiet.

If you are on the Upper West Side, crave some quiet, and don’t care about being in a beautiful space, try this POPS.

HOURS

8:00 a.m. to midnight every day

LOCATION

1991 Broadway (betw. 67th and 68th Streets), NY, NY 10023

WEBSITE

APOPS review of Bel Canto