This dramatic public plaza is Albany's most distinctive urban feature. Its official name is Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller State Plaza, after the man who undertook the massive project in 1962 (it wasn't finished until 1978). Rockefeller envisioned a kind of starkly modern Brasilia in upstate New York. Fiercely controversial at the time, for not only its daring aesthetics but also the fact that an entire residential neighborhood was wiped out to install it, the plaza and its unique buildings have since grown on most locals and visitors. The centerpiece of the plaza is the spherical Performing Arts Center, known to all as "The Egg." One glance and you'll know why. The plaza is flanked by the New York State Museum, the New York State Capitol (alongside legislative and justice buildings), four tall state agency buildings, and the tallest structure in Albany, the 42-story Corning Tower. War and other memorials share the open air with an important 92-piece collection of large-scale modern sculpture, most by artists associated with the New York School, including Tony Smith, Alexander Calder, David Smith, and Claes Oldenburg. The Empire Plaza might be cold and off-putting, but the city schedules events such as concerts, festivals, ice-skating, fireworks, and other activities that draw Albany residents, rather than keeping them away. Free public 1-hour tours are given by reservation only; call for details.