Manhattan-based firm HS Jessup Architecture has been given the green light for a five story faux-classical apartment on 34 East 62nd Street. The design, which is for the Woodbine Development Corporation, was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and will rest on the site where Dr. Nicholas Bartha blew up his own house in 2006.
Only days more than a decade ago, Bartha had become embroiled in a marriage dispute that forced him to sell the house. However, Bartha wasn’t budging. The New York Times reported the incident on July 11 2006:
The graceful town house on East 62nd Street was more than a home to Nicholas Bartha. It was the culmination of his life’s work, proof that he had realized the classic immigrant’s dream. In court papers, [Bartha’s former wife] said he had repeatedly vowed in ominous tones that he would die in that house and that she would never get it.
Now there is no house.
Shortly afterward, the 20 by 100 foot plot was available for $8.35 million and marketed by Brown Harris Stevens as an “opportunity to build your dream house” on a “quiet, lovely tree-lined street.” A year on from this, Bridgehampton-based architect Preston T. Phillips was touted to design a slender, modern replacement for Bartha’s town house, though the 2008 crisis proved to fatal stumbling block for the project.
Fast forward ten years ten years and now it looks like there will be a house on East 62nd Street once again. Employing a limestone and red brick on the North and South facades respectively, the 7,800-square-foot Manhattan mansion seeks to fall in line with its adjacent typologies adding a contemporary edge. The Historic Districts Council (HDC) however, had other ideas. At a hearing on July 12 the council said:
HDC finds that while the proposed design is not offensive and would be constructed of appropriate materials, it raises the question of whether it is appropriate to construct faux historic houses in historic districts. Introducing a design that is of our time or replicating the house that originally stood here would be acceptable strategies, but this house, while thoughtfully picking up details found in the neighborhood, does neither. The house might look like it has always been here, but we are not sure that would be an honest approach.
They weren’t the only group to raise their concerns too as Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts voiced their issue with the facade’s design:
While the proportions and scale of this building are appropriate for its setting, our Preservation Committee can’t help but feel that this project may be a missed opportunity for a more creative design.