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Americana’s Architectural Presence

Construction site

to house

Hillside Staircase

The southwest corner of Northern Boulevard and Searingtown Road is home to numerous drivers making their ways to and from the Long Island Expressway, and for much of the summer, a construction site on the property of Americana Manhasset.

Longtime shoppers may remember a staircase at that location. It was removed approximately 10 years ago, when Waldbaums – not Gucci – was visible from the street. Americana officials and designers from the Oehme van Sweden landscape architecture firm are now working to replace the timber and gravel version with a contemporary addition.

The Hillside Staircase project comprises 32 steps made of bluestone shards, bronze handrails on either side containing LED lighting, a rose garden accentuated by seasonal flowers and 1,000 additional points of LED lighting, stemming from wicks that will rise from the landscape and sway in the wind.

“It’s not your typical bricks and mortar type of landscape,” said Oehme van Sweden Principal Eric Groft, on Americana’s approach to design. “Luxury is obviously one of the goals here. It’s the haute couture that rivals Rodeo Drive.”    

Groft also noted that this project aligns with American communities’ efforts to become more pedestrian friendly. “If there are not pleasant places to walk, people aren’t going to walk,” Groft said, acknowledging that while driving is entrenched in the daily routines of many north shore residents, the staircase represents “a nice first step in making Manhasset a more pedestrian friendly place.”

Groft suggested that Roslyn Estates residents walk along the path connecting one street in their neighborhood, The Serpentine, with the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Searingtown Road. These shoppers could then use the new staircase to enter Americana.

Walter Pawliw, a North Shore University Hospital employee, frequently sips coffee from Cipollini Pronto Caffe while relaxing in the shopping center’s East Walkway. While Pawliw does not personally expect to use the staircase, he is eager to see Americana’s beauty enhanced by the final product. For him, it is the “surrounding flowers and inviting spots” that make Americana an ideal place to frequent.

Manhasset resident Angela Binetti questions whether most patrons will walk the staircase. “How? Where are you going to park? The only people who are going to use it are the people who will come off the bus,” she said, citing the Nassau Inter-County Express bus stop at the intersection.

Still, Binetti realizes the importance of enhancing Americana’s landscape. “You’ve got all high end stores here, it should be beautiful,” she said.

Deirdre Major, of Americana Manhasset, agrees. “Architecture is one of our defining characteristics,” she said. “It gives a sense of place to the shopping center … [and] it’s in keeping with the Manhasset community. There’s a certain aesthetic to Manhasset and we’re part of it.”