Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza

In the middle of the Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza is where you can find the Sunken Garden which was made by the Japanese artist Isamu Nogichi. The garden can be seen from the top view of the plaza and from the sides, when you happen to look from the bank’s inside. Despite majority of the sections of the building is not allowed to be visited by the public, the section that overlooks the entire sculpture is a full service branch of Chase Bank.

If you are a bank customer, then you can go through the building and search for the escalators at the western section of the lobby. You must go one level by taking the escalator and you can enter the bank with its glass doors to the left. The plaza’s opening has borders made of top metal rails which allow possible viewers to stand on the edge and look below into the sunken garden. The allotted space is surrounded by windows so that the garden can be viewed from the inside.

The garden’s floor is made up of tiny bricks which are light colored. It has smooth slopes on its surface creating the effect of low hills and valleys made up of seven boulders colored black. The boulders come in different sizes which Noguchu personally collected from the Uji river’s bottom in Kyoto, Japan.

The surface slope is well coordinated with the brick organization which is scattered around to display the contours. The brick lines are also used to grab attention for the boulders which are places on the highest levels of the ground. During the winter season, the Sunken Garden can be found dry. While during the months of summer, the garden turns into a water fountain with water sprouting high up in the air and flows back to the ground before becoming totally gone around the space’s edges.


Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza Sunken Garden

By Wally Gobets, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0,

Due to the variety of the brick surface layers, there are a few boulders which become partly sunk while others remain on dry ground with some water just drizzling over them. Noguchi designed this garden after the traditional concept of Zen garden in Japan. It is just not so luxuriating that viewers can only see this from the outside for no one is allowed to enter the Sunken Garden. Even the lines made apparent in the light colored bricks structure would remind you of the raked sands in common Japanese gardens.

However, according to Noguchi, he also tried his best to integrate other cultures and values into the design of the garden, especially that of the Western people. He has also included some European styles and his inspiration for the movement of the water feature was the Chinese style of ocean paintings.

After his Sunken Garden project, he continued to create a lot more achievement like the Red Cube. It is very much different from the Sunken Garden for it is more geometric than organic. The rest of his succeeding works were called the Group of Four Trees, the Federal Plaza and the Pulitzer Fountain.