The construction of midtown skyscrapers along the Avenue of the Americas—known locally as Sixth Avenue—topped out during the early 1970s.
Then, builders traded floor space for extra height. That tradeoff was expressed by creating ground-level public space which provided access for everyone to their privately owned land.
Further, the nature of such developers is to compete for artistic fame over artistic ennui, though you will not find that to be the case over on Fifth Avenue at Trump Tower.
So, in the lobby of 1166 Avenue of the Americas—the Skidmore, Owings and Merrill building sometimes known as the International Paper Building—from the Julie and Edward J. Minskoff Art Collection hang some significant tapestries by Roy Lichtenstein and a very large bronze homage to capitalism by Tom Otherness. On the other side of the long lobby window is an attractive and well-used outdoor passage connecting 46th and 45th Streets.
Tom Otterness has created little bronze people who struggle and strain to keep the wheels and gears of capitalism spinning, barely escaping those very same crushing gears. More of them are found farther downtown inside the 14th Street Subway station on the A / C Train.
So too for Lichtenstein where, in the Times Square Station network of tracks (every NYC subway line stops at 42nd Street), hangs a huge enameled piece. Here on Sixth Avenue, his work is softer being rendered in fabric and appearing as a very large carpet.
This is seven blocks from MoMA.