Yesterday, Curbed got the scoop on the new 27 Wooster Street, designed by KPF. Just as they were hitting publish, Henry Smith-Miller, principal of Smith-Miller Hawkinson and the designer of the proposal KPF is replacing, had written us about the project--and his apparent consternation. We asked to know more, and he gamely responded, even encouraging us to air his grievances here-in:
Thanks for your e-mail, I'd say there is no infringement here just bad manners and questionable design. After several years of hard work with Axel Stawski and his partner Tony Leichter, we had a project endorsed by Landmarks and City Planning and ready to permit. At the completion of our work, Mr. Stawski determined that he needed bigger units and a less expensive building exterior. We parted amicably, Axel then spoke with Thom Mayne [Ed.: Thom Mayne!] who passed on the project, and then he turned to KPF, who have built some of the best new buildings in the city. KPF has set a very high standard for design excellence all over the world, and I was surprised to see their attempt to build in SoHo. Their design, although similar in massing to our proposal, is radically different in its appearance. Taking a cue from the Nouvel's extraordinary exterior design at 40 Mercer, KPF has brought the window mullions forward of the full height operable glazing and "protected" the opening with juliet balcony front. I guess the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission will have to judge the new proposal based on its merit and not on what we had proposed. For the record, we had proposed an intentionally, and completely flat, structurally glazed and reflective water white glazed skin (with parallel projected window sash) that "wrapped" the corner of the building in a configuration very similar to the typical cast iron neo-classical applique found on many of SoHo's buildings. Our mullion system was behind the glass skin and there were no balconies, our proposal was about skin and surface, reflection and lightness.All that hard work for naught. And now, courtesy of 27 Wooster's very own blog, a picture of a board of a rendering of the KPF design. UPDATE: The 27 Wooster blog posted some new renderings last night, plus a rundown of neighborhood buildings against the new one. I wonder where they stand on the issue. Still, given recent trends in and around the neighborhood, we'd argue it's a pretty close fit.