New York City will soon lose another one of its bookstores—at least temporarily. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has denied landmark status for 31 West 57th Street, the century old building that houses the truly iconic Rizolli Bookstore. This clears the way for the building’s owners to demolish the current structure and put up what is expected to be a commercial or residential tower— this is 57th Street, after all. The owners of the building are reportedly trying to find a new home for Rizolli.
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Manhattan's 57th Street continues its ascent as New York City's new gold coast with a skinny skyscraper unveiled by SHoP Architects and JDS Development today. SHoP most recently celebrated the groundbreaking of another skyscraper for JDS along the East River, but has now been tapped to build a lean, luxury high-rise on West 57th Street that could climb to a whopping 1,350 feet tall. If built, the condo tower would stand 100 feet taller than the Empire State Building. The Wall Street Journal reported that while developers JDS Development and Property Markets Group will not comment on whether financing has been secured, they have already presented plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Stepping back from the street as it rises, the quarter-mile-high skyscraper will emulate steps and be clad in bronze-and-white terra-cotta stripes. SHoP partner, Vishaan Chakrabarti, told the WSJ the materials would create an effect that "sparkles during the day and has a soft glow at night." The developers were able to add height to the building by purchasing air rights from other properties in the vicinity. Elsewhere on 57th Street, BIG is building a pyramidal "court-scraper," Raphael Viñoly has designed the 1,380-foot-tall 432 Park Tower, Christian de Portzamparc's One57 tower is nearing completion, Cetra Ruddy has designed an ultra-skinny 51 story tower, and SOM's Roger Duffy is planning a prismatic, 57-story tower. Chicago's skyscraper experts, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, have also been tapped to design a skyscraper near 57th and Broadway, but no design has been released. The developers said they hope to break ground by 2014.
Development is soon on the horizon for Hudson Square, the 18-block area sandwiched between Soho and Tribeca. Yesterday New York City Council approved the Hudson Square rezoning, which entails raising the allowable building height to pave the way for more residential and mixed-use development. The city was able to finagle more affordable housing and open space throughout the approval process. From the get-go, preservationists have feared that development will seep into the South Village and have pressed the city to landmark the entire district. City Council has worked out a deal with Landmarks Preservation Commission to vote on the northern section of South Village by the end of the year.
After implementing a few small changes to the original design, Alloy Development has won the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to build the first set of townhouses in DUMBO. The developer modified the height of the five-story residential complex by eliminating a screen on the roof level that was designed to keep out noise and maintain a certain acoustic level in the penthouse units. Now the 3,000-square-foot project needs the approval of Department of Buildings, but AJ Pires of Alloy anticipates that they will be able to break ground by this summer. (Rendering: Courtesy Alloy Development)
Five firehouses, built over a century ago, were granted landmark status yesterday. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved each of these five buildings for what Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney characterized as “a clear expression of civic spirit and pride of purpose that existed at the time they were built and continue to this day in our City’s municipal architecture.”
These historic firehouses are located in Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace sections of Brooklyn; Bathgate and Longwood in the Bronx; and the Rockaway Park area of Queens. The buildings represent a range of architectural styles from Romanesque Revival and Neo Classical to Arts and Crafts and Colonial Revival—and were designed by several noteworthy architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including, Frank J. Helmle, Peter J. Lauritzen, and the firm Napoleon LeBrun & Sons. With these recent additions, a total of 37 firehouses have been designated as landmarks throughout the city, of which 32 are still in operation, according to LPC.
Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood is home to many a loft, but few, if any, townhouses make up the neighborhood streetscape. Curbed reported that boutique development firm and architect Alloy Development plans on building five adjacent, 6-story houses at Pearl Street in place of a graffiti-covered garage. But these won’t emulate your typical 19th-century Brooklyn-style brownstone, they will include a single facade built of ductal concrete fins with wood on the ground level. “While these are the first townhouses in DUMBO, we’re hoping to bring the same level of thoughtfulness and care as we have to the other projects,” wrote AJ Pires, executive vice president at Alloy, in an email. Alloy has been behind other residential projects in DUMBO including two warehouse conversions at 192 Water and 185 Plymouth Streets. According to the Brooklyn Paper, some preservationists, are not pleased with the proposal. They not only want to keep the colorful graffiti-covered garage, but have also expressed concern that the chosen materials—concrete and wood—will not mesh aesthetically with DUMBO’s predominantly brick facade buildings. These same questions came up last week when Alloy presented its plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Overall, the feedback was positive, but Alloy will return in a few months with revised plans.
Preservationists who have waged a battle against Foster + Partners' planned renovations of the New York Public Library received bad news Tuesday: The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the library’s application for changes to its Beaux-Arts exterior, mostly on the side facing Bryant Park, in a six-to-two vote. The $300 million renovation calls for removing seven floors of stacks beneath the famous Rose Main Reading Room to accommodate a large workspace and the collections from the Mid-Manhattan and the Innovative Science, Industry, and Business Libraries. This might be a major step forward for the library, but the approval process is not yet over. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Landmarks Commission can only vote on changes proposed to the landmarked exterior—the decision about the stacks is out of their hands.
Lenore Norman, a pioneer of historic preservation, died at 83 years old in her home on the Upper West Side on December 21st. She spent over 4 decades working tirelessly to preserve some of New York's most iconic buildings and historic districts. Ms. Norman first stepped into her role as the executive director of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the mid-1970s—a time when the idea of landmark preservation was fairly new and unpopular among some New Yorkers. "The whole idea of preservation was not something that people really understood, and of course, all of the larger institutions and buildings, for the most part, fought it," said Ms. Norman in an interview for The New York Preservation Archive Project. The New York Times described Ms. Norman as someone who was influential, but "did her work behind the scenes" and "was content to let the commissioners, developers, advocates and lobbyists occupy center stage." During her tenure as executive director, she played a critical role in designating a number of significant landmarks including Grand Central, St. Bartholomew's, the neo-gothic-style Woolworth Building by Cass Gilbert, and the Villard Houses by McKim, Mead & White. Her approach with the real estate industry was collaborative, even when discussions grew contentious: "We always try to compromise, to find a way where we could co-exist," said Ms. Norman. Ms. Norman left the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the early 1980s and took a position as the director of intergovernmental affairs at the city's Department of Buildings. In her later life, she served as the co-chairwoman of the preservation committee of Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side—the very neighborhood she lived in and helped designate as an historic district when she worked at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. While a preservationist by profession, she didn't see development as a black and white issue. She understood the need to balance the city's growth with its architectural history. "I want to live in a city that has diversity but I also want it to be reminiscent of what it was like years ago," Ms. Norman said in the interview. "The city has to change, it won't grow if it doesn't, and don't misunderstand, but I don't believe that we are rooted in tradition to the point where nothing new can be built or there can be no modifications to accommodate life as it is today, I think in general, there are verboten areas that we shouldn't be going into."
In response to the New York City Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone Midtown East, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) has asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to give landmark status to 17 buildings in the 78-block area concentrated around Grand Central Terminal. It is a last ditch effort to preserve several prominent structures—with styles ranging Beaux Arts and Renaissance Revival to Neo-Gothic and Mid-Century Modern—before Midtown gets the green light to raze old structures and erect new (and taller) buildings that provide modern features for tenants who “want open space plans” wrote the DCP in its proposal. The New York Times described the re-zoning as part of the Bloomberg administration’s vision to re-vamp midtown and turn it into a more competitive business district. Some notable buildings that have made MAS’ list include the New York Health & Racquet Club in Gothic Revival Style, the Graybar Building with Art Deco accents, the Neo-Gothic Swedish Seamen’s Church, and the Yale Club noted for its neo-classical façade.
- 445 PARK AVENUE, Kahn & Jacobs, 1946-1947
- 450 PARK AVENUE, Emery Roth & Sons, 1968-1972
- 4 EAST 43rd STREET, Andrew J. Thomas, 1916
- 661 LEXINGTON AVENUE, York & Sawyer, 1925-1926
- 111 EAST 48th STREET, Cross & Cross, 1925-1926
- 18-20 EAST 50th STREET, Rouse & Goldstone; Joseph L. Steinman, 1915
- 420 LEXINGTON AVENUE, Sloan & Robertson, 1925-1927
- 509 LEXINGTON AVENUE, Schultze & Weaver, 1928-1929
- 56 EAST 42nd STREET, J.E.R. Carpenter; Dwight P. Robinson, 1928-1929
- 17 EAST 47thSTREET, Henry Otis Chapman, 1932
- 5 EAST 48th STREET, Wilfred Edward Anthony, 1921
- 125 PARK AVENUE, John Sloan (York & Sawyer), 1921-1923
- 250 PARK AVENUE, Cross & Cross, 1923-1924
- 525 LEXINGTON AVENUE, Arthur Loomis Harmon, 1922-1923
- 270 PARK AVENUE, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1956-1960
- 52 VANDERBILT AVENUE, Warren & Wetmore, 1914-1916
- 50 VANDERBILT AVENUE, James Gamble Rogers, 1913-1915
In a unanimous decision, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the first phase of plans by the Trust for Governors Island to restore and revamp the island. The vision includes a paisley-like landscape by West 8 on the terrace in front of McKim, Mead and White designed Liggett Hall. Way-finding by Pentagram and lighting by Susan Tillotson also made the cut. For a detailed breakdown of the designs click here.
Shortly after the Landmarks Preservation Commission declared a section of the Grand Concourse an historic district on Tuesday, New York Times columnist Constance Rosenblum received a call with the news. Walking down Montague Street near her home in Brooklyn Heights, the usually unflappable writer burst into tears. When it comes to the Concourse, Rosenblum wrote the book. Her 2010 chronicle of the corridor, Boulevard of Dreams (NYU Press, $20), played a significant role in calling attention to the plight and promise of the neighborhood. “It was notable day,” she said in a phone interview in reference to the announcement. “It wasn’t easy for the Bronx, and the stigmas will remain for a long time.” Thick with Deco and Moderne, to say nothing of early twentieth century Tudor and Renaissance, the district also showcases work of a few contemporary firms as well. Architectronica’s Bronx Museum of Art sits just down the street from Rafael Viñoly’s Bronx Housing Court. But not all of the 78 properties within the district are knock-out architectural gems. “It’s a little pockmarked,” said Rosenblum. “It’s not cute brownstones, one after the other.” Rosenblum profiled Sam Goodman in the book. He lives, works, and grew up on the Concourse. He said that should the Bronx's fortunes swing up or down, the redistricting will deter owners from abandoning the neighborhood. “Now they'll say, ‘I’m not going to sell to Donald Trump or to the city,’” said Goodman. “So let’s do what we can to keep the buildings attractive.” Goodman pointed out that the landmarking is for a very small section of the Boulevard. Plenty of wonderful buildings sit just to the north, including Emigrant Savings Bank, Paradise Theater and the freshly restored Edgar Allan Poe House. Even with a new visitors center by Toshiko Mori, recent vandalism at Poe Park show that the bad old days aren’t necessarily over. Funding and maintenance remain key issues that preservation alone can’t solve. To that end, Rosenblum believes that the designation goes beyond the bricks and mortar. Landmarking can provide pride of place. “Living in a place that’s important can make you feel good about yourself,” she said. “It’s more than protecting a gorgeous building, it’s giving imprimatur to a very important idea.”
After a protracted land use review with vitriolic community meetings that disquieted even battle-hardened presenters, the Landmarks Preservation Commission finally approved plans by the Rudin development family and North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical to renovate the St. Vincent’s O’Toole building in Manhattan's West Village. As of Tuesday, the former Maritime Union headquarters is set to become a comprehensive health care facility with emergency services. "Today's vote is further recognition that the North Shore-LIJ Comprehensive Care Center is not only the best plan to bring health care back to the West Side, but the right one for the neighborhood,” Rudin Management CEO Bill Rudin said in a statement. Renovations by Perkins Eastman will preserve much of the original design by architect Albert C. Ledner. "The interesting point is that we are adaptively reusing a 1960's building and turning it into a 21st century medical facility," said Frank Gunther, principal at Perkins Eastman. "We're fitting a square into a circle." The final proposal also addressed concerns by commissioners and several preservationists that the cantilevered overhang not be undermined. Original designs included a ground floor glass wall that practically merged with the overhang on the building’s west side. The approved design pulls the glass wall back away from the second floor while gently curving toward the north entrance, which will be used for the medical offices. The south side of the building will be carved out to provide privacy for the ambulance entrance, while the east side of the building facing Seventh Avenue will remain largely unchanged with new glass block replacing the old, aiding the illusion of a substantial rectangular mass floating above a glass base. Atop the building, a large modernist turret and old executive office space will be restored and converted into medical offices. Perhaps the most substantial change will be the removal of the tiny-tile cladding, which was added by the client shortly after the building was completed in 1963. The new façade will sport a fresh coat of white paint the color of vanilla ice cream, as Ledner had always intended. “It was an ill fated application,” Gunther, said of the tiles. “We plan to restore it to the original concrete finish, similar to what they did at the Guggenheim a few years ago.” Gunther said the firm received Ledner’s blessing on the restoration after extensive consultations with the architect. The team even made a pilgrimage to visit the 87-year-old Ledner who accompanied them to his archives at Tulane University.