The owners of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City are positioning themselves to sell air rights associated with the landmark to permit construction of a high-rise building in the Midtown East rezoning district, where JPMorgan Chase is planning a 70-story tower to replace its current headquarters, the former Union Carbide building at 270 Park Avenue. Representatives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York are scheduled to present a “restoration and maintenance plan” to New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on March 13 to show how proceeds from the sale of air rights would be used to improve spaces in and around the church property at 625 Fifth Avenue, which has been designated a city landmark. According to an agenda item listing the meeting, the commission will review a program “for the continuing maintenance of the complex in connection with future development right transfers” pursuant to applicable provisions of the Midtown East zoning resolution. A second midtown landmark, Grand Central Terminal, also may be transferring air rights for the JPMorgan Chase project, according to Crain’s New York. Two investment firms and a developer control a majority stake in up to 1.35 million square feet of transferrable air rights above the terminal, according to the publication, but the preservation commission has not scheduled any public meetings to review any transfers from there. The meeting involving St. Patrick’s is scheduled to take place less than a month after JPMorgan Chase and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the bank is planning to tear down its 52-story headquarters and build a much larger replacement. A representative for the Archdiocese declined to provide specifics about the air rights plan, but others with the city say it would, if approved, enable the transfer of development rights to the Park Avenue site controlled by JPMorgan Chase. The JPMorgan Chase project is the first major building to be announced for the East Midtown district since the city adopted new guidelines that address where owners of city landmarks can transfer development rights to construct larger buildings. Under previous guidelines, the development rights had to be transferred to sites close to the landmark that has them. Under the new guidelines, enacted in August 2017, the air rights can be transferred anywhere within the larger Midtown East rezoning district, giving owners of landmark properties more options for transferring air rights. The transfer is expected largely to benefit the cathedral, which underwent a $177 million restoration from 2013 to 2016, with Murphy Burnham & Buttrick as the architect. Besides the Gothic Revival cathedral designed by James Renwick Jr. and completed in 1880, the property includes the cardinal’s residence and a rectory designed by Renwick, a French Gothic style Lady Chapel designed by Charles Matthews and built in 1906, and the church grounds. According to preservationists, the cathedral property cannot be demolished without city approval, but it has transferrable air rights that could be used to build an estimated 1.1 million square feet of development elsewhere. The Archdiocese has made no secret about its desire to take advantage of the sale of air rights to benefit its property. The rezoning plan requires sellers of air rights to pay a share of the proceeds to the city to help improve sidewalks, plazas and streets. According to The New York Times, JPMorganChase is expected to buy up to one million square feet of air rights from other property owners, and its air rights purchase is expected to generate more than $40 million for public improvements. A 2017 analysis by The Real Deal indicated that the archdiocese and St. Patrick’s would receive $270.6 million if it sold all of its air rights, and the city would receive $67.6 million. Under the city’s Midtown East rezoning rules, development and approval of a continuing maintenance agreement is required before development rights can be transferred. The plan can involve both interiors and exteriors of the designated landmark. Although extensive restoration work has been completed at St. Patrick’s, the archdiocese still wants to upgrade building systems, including fire protection and roof drainage., and that is what the conservation plan is expected to address. The JP Morgan Chase project is controversial because it calls for the demolition of an office tower designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill and opened in 1961. The tower was designed by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie Griffin De Blois, one of the few women to design a midcentury office tower, but is not protected by landmark status. It would be the tallest building in the world demolished voluntarily. This month’s announcement of the JPMorgan Chase project drew criticism from architecture experts who say the SOM tower should be preserved. The scope of the March 13 Landmarks Preservation Commission does not specifically address the demolition proposal or the irony that a conservation plan that would help preserve the cathedral could be used to demolish the SOM tower. Preservationists have advocated that the preservation commission consider giving the Union Carbide building landmark designation, but no public meetings have been scheduled at this point to discuss such a designation.
Posts tagged with "Grand Central Terminal":
The New York Landmarks Conservancy is honoring Apple with its 2016 Chairman's Award. The award, to be given at a fundraising luncheon where individual tickets start at $500, honors the company for "their contribution to preserving, restoring, and repurposing notable historic structures in New York City." Although Apple's New York flagship store, on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th streets, is recognized widely for its modern glass cube, the company has four stores in historically significant locations around the city. Apple has a shop in Grand Central Terminal, a New York City landmark, and stores within the Soho, Gansevoort Market, and Upper East Side historic districts. With 700,000 travellers passing through Grand Central Terminal, that store is the most heavily trafficked of the historic four, Apple Insider speculates. In March, the NYLC will recognize the company's commitment to historic preservation (or locating stores in historic areas, as there is no explicit preservation agenda in the stores' design). The Chairman's Award was started in 1988 to recognize "exceptional commitment to the protection and preservation of the rich architectural heritage of New York." The NYLC is different from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission: the latter is a city government group that decides which districts and structures receive recognition for the historic, cultural, or architectural merits and subsequent protection under local historic preservation laws. The former is a nonprofit advocacy organization that protects the architectural heritage of New York City by advocating for preservation-friendly policy at the state, local, and national level; running workshops and providing technical assistance; and providing loans and grants for preservation of individual structures, sites, and neighborhoods.
New York City's MTA has posted another collection of East Side Access construction photos to remind New Yorkers that its majorly delayed and hugely over budget project is still actually chugging along. When East Side Access is ultimately completed, at the cost of nearly $11 billion, it will connect Long Island Rail Road trains to Grand Central making life easier for about 80,000 commuters. But that's a long ways off—last we heard, the project will not be completed until 2023. As for where the project currently stands, the MTA explained in a statement, "Work continues on the Manhattan side of the East Side Access Project below Grand Central Terminal with waterproofing, rebar arch installation and drilling for couplers. In addition, temporary shoring for concrete slabs that will make up track and room levels can be seen." To see for yourself, take a look at the photos below which were captured by the MTA deep beneath city streets.
Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile Museum of the City of New York 1220 5th Avenue, New York Through September 7th Coming to New York City from Washington, D.C., this exhibition illuminates the legacy of architect and builder Rafael Guastavino. A Catalan immigrant, Guastavino created the iconic (and aptly named) Guastavino tile. By interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar to build his arches, Guastavino married old-world aesthetics with modern innovation. The resulting intersection of technology and design revolutionized New York City’s landscape, and is used in over 200 historic buildings including Grand Central Terminal, Carnegie Hall, The Bronx Zoo’s Elephant House, and Ellis Island. Guastavino’s son, Rafael III, is part of the family legacy explored in the exhibition. MCNY has expanded this showing to include 20 more projects found throughout New York City’s five boroughs. The exhibition also boasts an 11-by-15-foot replica of a Guastavino vault, contemporary photos by Michael Freeman, previously unreleased drawings and materials, and a video gallery installation that visually immerses the viewer in Guastavino’s vaults.
Grand Central has always been more than a train station. It’s an architectural and cultural touchstone for New York City. Even the most hurried commuter will stop to admire the building’s impressive scale and immaculate detail, before making their next transfer or stepping onto the crowded Midtown streets. The iconic building celebrated its Centennial last year, and it's looking pretty good for 100. But, to be fair, it has had some cosmetic work done over the years. Either way, to honor that milestone, the New York Transit Museum hosted an exhibit called Grand By Design, which explored the station’s storied history. And now, a year later, that exhibit has a fun, new website. With some drawings, photos and videos, the site tells the captivating story of how the “Grand Central Depot” of the 1800’s became the Grand Central Terminal of today. Turns out, a lot happened before the Apple Store showed up. As these things go, the story is full of greed, politics, threats of destruction, and what's described as a “stormy partnership.” It's like one of today's development battles, but with more provocative facial hair. Check out the new website here. [via Gizmodo]
The Municipal Art Society recently commissioned and released four versions of a re-imagined Penn Station. It commissioned Diller Scofidio + Renfro, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to prepare drawings of what a new terminal would like for the busiest train station in the country. It has now come to light that actually a fifth concept was prepared but not presented at MAS's "press conference." The design by the firm Michael Sorkin Studio builds on MAS's legendary 1970s protest against the destruction of Grand Central Station. In that protest Jacqueline Onassis famously joined forces with other powerful Manhattanites to stop a proposed Marcel Breuer high rise slated to be built above and across the southern front of Grand Central. Sorkin's proposal would build on Breuer legacy and move the Current Madison Square Garden from 33rd Street and place it atop Mr. Vanderbilt's Grand Central that he claims would give the Dolan family—owners of the Garden—a "highly accessible new site for MSG." Hugh Hardy (H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture) in a widely circulated email has called for a wider discussion of his and the other proposals so that "informed public discussion and analysis will lead to recognition that the large scale problems presented by Penn Station require large scale thinking and funding." If this does not happen he warns, "these ideas could easily be dismissed as “pie in the sky.” In reality we have at least fifteen years until a new station can even begin construction and Mr. Sorkin's garden in the sky has as much to offer as the other four designs. Let the informed public discussion begin.
New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has completed blasting through bedrock far below Grand Central Terminal for the East Side Access Tunnels that will connect the station with Sunnyside, Queens. As part of the announcement, one of the last production blasts from late March has debuted on YouTube. The video above reveals what has been transpiring beneath the streets of Manhattan during the tunneling process, and the sight is rather impressive. A camera caught the final blast that made way for a massive cavern. So far 2,424 production blasts have occurred below the commuter rail terminal station, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. For this explosion, sandhogs drilled more than 200 blast holes and loaded them with over 300 pounds of powder to guarantee a powerful explosion that could rival any action movie’s special effects.
There's plenty of tunneling going on underneath the streets of Manhattan. On the west side, digging through the city's bedrock has given way to interior station fit-ups for the Dattner-designed 7 line subway stations connecting Times Square to Hudson Yards as early as 2014. To the east, sandhogs continue to carve through solid rock for the $4.5 billion Second Avenue Subway Line while other crews outfit the tunnels with concrete and rebar. Between the two, more massive caverns are being opened up beneath Grand Central Terminal, which turned 100 this month, that will extend the Long Island Railroad to the famed station from Sunnyside, Queens in 2019. The $8.24 billion East Side Access Project will allow commuters to bypass Penn Station and enter Manhattan 12-stories below Grand Central. Now, the MTA has released a dramatic set of photos from inside the 3.5-mile-long tunnel, revealing enormous cathedral-like spaces connected by perfectly cylindrical tunnels. Take a look. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow. All images courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin. [Via Gothamist.]
As New Yorkers celebrate Grand Central's Centennial, many might have forgotten, or perhaps never even knew, that the train terminal almost suffered the same fate as Penn Station and was nearly demolished in the late 1960s. This controversy made historic preservation a critical part of the conversation about development and the future of New York City. Grand Central "was a gift to preservation and left a legacy. By its influence, it will save other buildings in the future," said Frank Prial, Associate Partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the firm responsible for the restoration of Grand Central. "It is our poster child for preservation." Prial mentions that the effort to save Grand Central Terminal "grew from great community service" and with the help of city leaders such as former Mayor Ed Koch, who recently passed away, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Over the years, there have been renovations and updates to the building. Prial was part of the team at Beyer Blinder Belle to work on the restoration, and recalls a significant decision—to construct a new staircase on the east side, which was included in the original designs by Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem, but was ultimately cut because the project was "running out of money and there was no place to go on east side because they filled with tenements and slaughter houses." While some of the more conservative preservationists doubted the necessity of the new staircase, Prial says that "there was more than just an architectural need for it, not only to uphold the architects’ original intent, but also to create access to this great space below and also to encourage ciruculation and in times of emergency." Few commuters might realize that this stairwell was only built in 1998—it fits naturally within the space, and as Prial points out, is in keeping with Beaux-Arts tradition. "People are simply not aware that this stair didn’t exist. It is simpler, cleaner and more modern than original on the west side."
Happy Birthday Grand Central Terminal! Today the 49-acre train station is turning 100 and celebrating this grand 'ole affair with performances, events, and even a LEGO model of the Beaux-Arts style station itself, courtesy the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester Station Master’s Office. Designed by Reed & Stern and Warren & Wetmore, the station is believed to be the largest station by number (44) of platforms in the world. In honor of the Centennial, some of the retail shops and restaurants are even dropping their prices to 1913 levels, so commuters can grab a piece of cheesecake at the Oyster Bar for 19 cents. The New York Times also fired up its own time machine, posting the original supplement from 1913 when Grand Central first opened to the public. (You can download the PDF here.)
This year's a big one for New York's Grand Central Terminal: On February 2, the Warren & Wetmore-designed train station will celebrate its 100th birthday. We expect to hear quite a bit about Grand Central all year long, as a massive rezoning effort takes shape around the Beaux Arts landmark. For instance, take a look at the Municipal Art Society's recent recent reimagining of the terminal by Norman Foster, SOM, and WXY. Now the United States Postal Service is getting on board with a stamp by artist Dan Cosgrove depicting Grand Central's main concourse. The Express Mail stamp carries a price tag nearly as big as the station itself, but like the trains running beneath Grand Central, it's sure to offer speedy transit. [Via Gothamist.]
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