A Room With A View: Hanging Out In The Elevated Living Room In Columbus Circle

A  few months ago I noticed that the Christopher Columbus statue at Columbus Circle was being taken over by layers of scaffolding.  Figuring it was either another one of NYC’s construction projects or that Chris really needed a bath, I didn’t think much of it until I read an article about an elevated living room being built in Columbus Circle, which certainly upped my level of intrigue.



The non-profit Public Art Fund commissioned Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi to build a penthouse whose central focus is none other than Christopher Columbus himself…(or the fabulous views overlooking the park.  Take your pick.)



In an interview with the NY Times, Nishi was asked what attracted him to the Columbus statue.  He replied:

“I noticed a lot of public sculptures in New York City are set on a low base, or even without a base, on the ground, compared to the ones in Europe. And I noticed that Columbus is really in a high position. That’s what attracted me. By raising up people’s eyes, you can see things with a different perspective. That’s the important point of it.”



As with anything, the project has its skeptics.  The friend I brought along with me to explore mumbled something along the lines of: “Are my tax dollars seriously funding a living room for a statue?!”

The exhibit is free and open to the public, but you must first reserve a timed ticket online and print it out before arriving.  (Very important folks, the ticket takers were turning people away who didn’t print tickets out or who came at the wrong time.)  It’s a 6 floor walk-up to get to Columbus’s pad, so make sure you bring your walking shoes and leave your fear of heights at home.



The living room itself is bathed in pink wallpaper featuring images of Elvis Presley, The Empire State Building, and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few.  You can sit on one of the couches and watch TV, flip through a magazine, or even pull a novel off Columbus’s shelf and give it a read.  There were a few budding artists sketching the statue when I went, and others (ahem, me) enjoying the bright lights from the taxis and Time Warner Center.  How I do love a room with a view.  Thanks for having us over, Chris.



WHAT: Tatzu Nishi “Discovering Columbus”

WHERE: Right in the middle of Columbus Circle…you can’t miss it!

TICKETS: Reserve your free passes here.

WHEN: The exhibit is open until November 18th, 2012.


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen



  • Is this living room instalation making the statue no longer visible from the street? That’s the main Issue I’d see with it.

  • It’s an interesting concept, but I still don’t see the point. I love art, but building “living room for a statue” is little out there:)

  • I walk by Columbus Circle all the time and never knew this existed! How weird!

  • I’m with your skeptical friend. I fail to see the point of this exhibit.

    • Used York City says:

      Ha! Appreciate your honesty:-) I’m always amazed to walk around this city and see what kind of projects are getting funded and hanging in the major museums…sometimes begs the question, “Art, or just REALLY good connections?”

  • “Are my tax dollars funding a living room for a statue?” <–that is so funny. I guess it's how you look at art and innovation. And how you feel about the role of culture in your city…Obviously, New York is all about innovative, creative and cuttting-edge. I think the penthouse is a wonderfully unique venture.

    Very symbolic about raising your eyes for a different perspective. I think it's a fun way to see the sculpture and maybe more people will have an appreciation for Chris–having to make a trip to see him, and all…

    Thanks for another bit of culture to brighten and enlighten my Monday, Jess!

    • Used York City says:

      Hysterical, right? I think his point was that it’s fine to celebrate million dollar installations of fun works of art only AFTER all the pot-holes on the West Side Highway are filled in and public school teachers in the city are given enough pencils for all their students:-)

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