Posts tagged with "Landmarks":

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N.Y.C. Landmarks Preservation Commission approves Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire memorial

Last week, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to approve a memorial dedicated to the 146 victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911. Reframing the Sky, designed by architects Uri Wegman and Richard Joon Yoo, will debut next year if supporters can raise $850,000 to cover long-term maintenance costs. The commission’s approval is the latest step in what’s been a six-year-long process to install the project in commemoration of the tragedy. Gina Pollara, a consultant with the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, said now is the perfect time to get it done due to heightened awareness on labor rights issues in the United States. “Given the current political climate, I’m hoping this project begins to really open up the conversation about the importance of unions, workplace safety, and how we can address certain social justice issues today,” said Pollara. “For all of their imperfections, unions still perform a vital duty and are an important piece of the American labor force.” The factory’s infamous fire, now 108 years ago, set off a series of historic legislative reforms to protect workers’ safety. The employees who died there, many of which were young immigrant women, were trapped on locked floors of the multi-level facility at 29 Washington Place. Today, the structure, known as the Brown Building, is owned by New York University and though it’s a local and national landmark, many people don’t know its history. The coalition seeks to change that through a public memorial that shines a light on the tragedy and details its significance for blue-collar workers in the 21st century. According to the project statement, the future memorial will mimic the mourning ribbons that were traditionally draped on building facades as outward expressions of a community’s collective sorrow. It will feature horizontal stainless-steel bands that wrap the southeast corner of the building and a textured panel that lines its vertical edge. The names of the victims will be laser cut into the elongated panels where daylight will shine and reflect the letters off a highly-polished, steel surface placed at hip level. Through this, visitors will be able to see the names reflected in the sky. The project has already received widespread support since its announcement in 2013. Three years ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo approved a $1.5 million grant for its design and construction, but money is still needed to maintain it. The coalition is organizing a two-day upcoming event in collaboration with the Fashion Institute of Technology to raise awareness of the project and offer people the chance to contribute to its design. Anyone interested will be able to bring an individual piece of fabric that will be used to create a large ribbon that the designers will cast in metal and mount onto the building for the textured vertical panel. “The public engagement piece of this memorial is the most important part to us,” said Pollara, “because the legislation that came from this tragedy has affected us all personally whether we know it or not. The design features a very subtle thread of stitching the past and present together.” A public event, A Collective Ribbon — Weaving Stories of the Triangle Fire, will take place on March 16 and 17 at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Those who are unable to attend can send in personal pieces of ribbon to the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition at PO Box 1822, New York, New York 10113. Donors of $25,000 or more will have their names inscribed on the memorial.
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Advance tickets available to scale New York’s massive Vessel next spring

Over the past two years, New York City residents have been awaiting the unveiling of one of the city’s most complex and outlandish landmark attractions. The Vessel—a 150-foot-tall, beehive-esque, interactive art installation in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards—is now allowing people to sign up for early tickets for a first step on its massive stairs. Visitors must sign up for specific time slots for entry into the free, climbable public space, which is expected to be engulfed by a frenzy of locals and tourists when it opens this coming spring. Composed of concrete and shimmering bronzed steel, the $150 million landmark, which will serve as the centerpiece of the Hudson Yards Plaza, topped out last December. The honeycomb-shaped megastructure will undoubtedly shape the nascent aesthetic of the new West Side neighborhood, one that is unique for its location above a massive rail yard. Aside from the Vessel itself, whose 2,500 steps, 14 flights, 80 landings, and 16 stories can hold over 1,000 people at a time, the site at Hudson Yards Plaza will also comprise a fountain and over 27 acres of landscaped space for events with views across the Hudson River and Manhattan. London-based Heatherwick Studio was chosen to design the landmark. To create a memorable work of art, the studio chose to build a structure that visitors could not only look at, but also use and explore.
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Celebrate LGBTQ History Month with this interactive map of historic N.Y.C. sites

This month is LGBTQ History Month and to honor it The Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York featured a panel about historic sites associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights movement at this week's MAS Summit in New York City. Every year, the conference explores how present-day issues can be informed and challenged by historical advocacy. On Tuesday the ninth annual program featured a lecture led by the co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, Ken Lustbader, who, in his own words, is trying to put LGBT history on the map by “looking at it through a rainbow lens.” Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, a police raid at the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village. Lustbader recalled that the riot wasn’t the first at the Christopher Street institution, but one that is especially remembered for the days-long protest where patrons were inspired to fight back, forever marking the N.Y.C. neighborhood as the unofficial cradle of the LGBT rights movement. Stonewall Inn is just one of the places the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project documents in its interactive map of historic and cultural sites associated with the community in all five boroughs. From the Angel of the Waters statue atop the Bethesda Fountain—an 1860s masterpiece by lesbian sculptor Emma Stebbins and the earliest public artwork by a woman in New York City—to Carnegie Hall—the venue famous for hosting countless performances and works by LGBT artists—the list of historic sites reaches way beyond bars and clubs. Continuously being added to, the network of hundreds of locations illustrates the richness of the movement’s history and its influence in the United States. Covering sites dating from the city’s founding in the 17th century to the year 2000, it currently lists 5 locations in Staten Island, 12 in Queens, 123 in Manhattan, 8 in Brooklyn, and 4 in The Bronx. The 150 pins presently live on the map can be filtered by cultural significance, neighborhood, era, and LGBT category. The organization also offers themed tours that rotate throughout the year, including ones on Jewish New York, Transgender History, and The AIDS Crisis. Many of the movement’s historic sites were unappreciated and a vast majority remain completely unknown. Landmarking LGBT sites comes with its own set of unique challenges. When a potential landmark cannot be evaluated on architectural grounds alone, a site's social history can be difficult to establish because of a lack of proper documentation of LGBT sites. According to Lustbader, there’s historically been almost no record of various sites keeping because of stigma and fear of exposure. There’s another caveat: proving identity and gender can be difficult for LGBT people. Today, there are now 17 LGBT-related sites of the more than 93,000 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Lustbader and fellow project directors Andrew S. Dolkart and Jay Shockley confronted these challenges with 25 years of LGBT-specific research conducted by historic preservation professionals and numerous outreach events and crowdsourcing opportunities to develop a step-by-step guide to evaluate state and national LGBT register listings. The guide and all of their research can be accessed in the Historic Context Statement for LGBT History in New York. Discover hundreds of places that represent NYC’s LGBT past on nyclgbtsites.org. Each site contains descriptive historical accounts, contemporary and archival photographs, related ephemera, and multimedia presentations. Happy cruising!
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Historic midtown N.Y.C. church to transfer air rights to JPMorgan

JPMorgan Chase is one step closer to constructing its new headquarters atop the footprint of the soon-to-be-demolished Union Carbide building in New York City. Since February, the bank has successfully initiated the transfer of development rights from the adjacent Grand Central Terminal and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On Tuesday, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission signaled the third major structure to give over rights in the deal—the 100-year-old St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. The commission voted unanimously to approve a master plan for the restoration and continued maintenance of the historic church, pending the planned transfer of air rights to JPMorgan. Commissioner Michael Goldblum called the decision a “joyous day” for St. Bart’s and acknowledged the success of the many buildings that have begun a revival process due to the deal, some of which would “never have had the ability to raise adequate funds” for themselves. The financial giant has agreed to purchase at least 50,000-square-feet of development rights from St. Bart’s for $20.7 million, which the deteriorating church will use to underwrite countless renovation projects on site. At the end of June, The Real Deal reported that the bank is also considering buying 505,000 square feet of additional development rights for seven times the current price. This is all part of JPMorgan’s plan to secure the initial air rights needed to build out its new, 70-story headquarters at 270 Park Avenue. The tower would replace its current home, formerly known as the Union Carbide building, completed in 1961 and designed by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie Griffin de Blois of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Though it’s not designated as a historic landmark, the building is considered one of New York’s most classic Modernist structures and preservation advocates are criticizing JPMorgan’s attempt to take it down. Under the Midtown East rezoning plan, which passed in August of 2017, the bank is allowed to build a larger office building as long as it contributes to a “public realm improvement fund.” This includes buying the air rights from various neighboring institutions in order to assist them in carrying out their own structural work. Since it received status as a New York City landmark back in 1967, the Byzantine-style St. Bart’s Church is eligible for both the city’s and JPMorgan’s help.  Representatives from the church touted the importance of yesterday’s LPC vote, calling it a transfer that “needs to happen” for the building to continue functioning properly. In addition, the New York Landmarks Conservancy as well as Community Board 5 recommended approval. “The only break in the skyline as you walk along Park Avenue is St. Barts,” said the church’s building committee chairman Peter Sullivan. “This beautiful building gives the eye a much-needed break amidst all the skyscrapers, but any person will tell you it needs a lot of work to fix.”
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Controversial condo tower proposed to top a Toronto landmark

A 44-story tower has been proposed to top one of Toronto’s most beloved pieces of 20th-century architecture—and many Torontonians aren’t happy. The former Bank of Canada building, built in 1958 and designed by Marani & Morris, currently stands at just eight stories and occupies a choice spot of downtown real estate at 250 University Avenue. The existing structure is designated a heritage building and heritage specialists GBCA Architects have been brought in to consult on the work related to original building. The new combined structure, designed by IBI Group, would reach just over 575 feet and bring the total floor count to 54. It would house 495 condominium units while the original building would continue to host retail and office space. The existing subterranean safe, which currently serves as a common area, and mechanical rooms would be converted into two stories of bicycle storage, while two additional underground levels would be added to provide space for a parking garage. The addition is certainly stirring up controversy. There are numerous dissenting comments on its announcement on Urban Toronto, a news site for new developments in the city. On Twitter, Alex Bozikovic, architecture critic for The Globe and Mail, responded to the announcement unequivocally: “No. Absolutely not.” Bozikovic went on to call the proposed addition a “junkpile.” Many commenters followed suit deriding the proposal as a “total failure” and “the second worst [tower addition] I’ve seen.” One commentator put it more generously, saying “the plan lacks imagination.” https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js The limestone-colored accents of the addition are ostensibly designed to use color related to the original building, which features modernist sculptures on the facade, though, as another Twitter user pointed out, “They couldn’t even line the damn thing up.” Developer Northam Realty Advisors, who is seeking rezoning in order to construct the addition, is no stranger to controversy. In 2016, the group proposed replacing a historically designated building in the Historic Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District with a pair of towers. (The plan was later revised to be just one, taller tower, also designed by IBI Group.) While received well by some, many were not so positive, and the plan has not yet been approved. As far as the proposed addition to the Bank of Canada building, perhaps Twitter user John Howe put it best: “We can only pray it’ll look better in real life.”
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Here’s what NYC architects need to know about changes to Landmarks rules

This week the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is holding a public hearing on changes to its rules of operation. Among other modifications, the new rules would allow the agency to move items off its public hearing calendar, a change the LPC says would alleviate pressure on the almost all-volunteer commissioners who meet weekly to debate and vote on new landmarks, as well as changes to historic properties. Many leading preservation groups, however, believe that channeling more items to agency staffers would deprive New Yorkers of the opportunity to meaningfully weigh in on changes to the historic built environment. Right now, select LPC applicants go through a public hearing, a Tuesday meeting at the LPC’s Manhattan office where architects and owners present their plans to the agency's 11 commissioners and to the public. These meetings let stakeholders weigh in on small items like the window replacement scheme for a private home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and on headline-grabbing proposals like the landmark potential of Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s AT&T Building. Discussions on each item can last twenty minutes or one-and-a-half hours, depending on how controversial the item is or if the commissioners debate the owner's request vigorously. Other more minor issues, like small storefront build-outs in a landmarked building or railing replacement on a private home in a historic district, get evaluated by LPC staff and approved behind the scenes. The items in public hearings are seeking a Certificate of Appropriateness, while the items processed by staff are awarded either a Certificate of No Effect or a Permit for Minor Work. The draft of the new rules (PDF) addresses both changes to the public hearing process as well as issues like sidewalk modifications, appropriate materials, and “no style” buildings, to name a few. Together, they cover more nuts-and-bolts preservation issues than can be discussed in a single article, so The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) reached out to preservation leaders to get their take on the key issues the public, especially architects, should watch out for ahead of tomorrow’s hearing on the proposal. Many leading preservation groups are worried that the proposed rules would silence the public’s voice on changes that have a cumulative impact on the city’s historic fabric. Simeon Bankoff, executive director of preservation advocacy group the Historic Districts Council, was concerned about what he sees as a softening of requirements around materials for repairing and replacing historic building components. After six stories on masonry buildings, for example, the new rules would allow owners to use substitute materials like fiberglass in lieu of original stone or terra-cotta when replacing historic building elements. “Rather than lowering the standards—which we felt was being done in many cases in these rules—you want to raise them,” Bankoff said. “People are going to build to whatever standard you give them. If the reward is they don’t have to go through a public hearing, they should be held to the highest standards possible.” Under the new rules, rear yard additions, which can be contentious, would be heard by staff only, provided they met certain requirements. HDC believes that rear-yard addition should go before the public, because neighbors have a right to comment on what is (literally) going on in their backyards. On the plus side, Bankoff said, the proposal includes “nice language” on the collective impact of rooftop and rear yard additions, as well as signage. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), a leading downtown preservation group, expressed concern that, under the new public hearing rules, more buildings could wind up like Twin Peaks, an unusually proportioned Greenwich Village co-op that that exemplified the neighborhood’s bohemian spirit. The owner got staff approval last year to repaint the structure and its distinctive brown half-timbering beige and dark grey, a move that Berman believes could have been avoided had the public been given a chance to weigh in on the significance of the original contrasting color scheme. He was blunt about the impact of the changes to the public hearing. “The proposed rules are fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-transparency, and anti–public participation. This is the opposite direction the commission should be moving in.” Landmark West! Executive Director Sean Khorsandi echoed GVSHP’s concerns. “The New York City landmarks commission has been trendsetters, nationwide and globally,” he said. “The commission is in a league of its own; people have been looking to it to set the standards. We see these proposed changes as a little bit of a backtrack.” On the Upper West Side, the neighborhood for which Landmark West! advocates, Khorsandi said the new rules would have a substantial impact on current and future landmarks. The  rules would allow alterations to features not mentioned in the designation report, a change that would disproportionately impact earlier designations like The Belnord. The apartment complex’s one-page report doesn’t mention the property’s distinctive vault lights, as the LPC used to require short-and-sweet reports on all items, regardless of their size or importance. This leaves historic features on early designations vulnerable to inappropriate changes or outright removal. To ensure sensitive treatment of protected items, Landmark West! would like to see the agency hire more staff, instead of moving items away from public hearings. Architecture and urbanism advocates at the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) also believe the new rules might unintentionally incentivize removal of these vault lights, among other historic features. Tara Kelly, MAS’s vice president of policy and programs, explained that the group was concerned about the language around “no style” buildings, vague wording that covers structures that are undistinguished or don’t contribute to the look and feel of a historic district. The term originated in the Upper East Side Historic District around three decades ago, but, a “no style” structures of yesteryear might become historically significant years later. Kelly (a former executive director of Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts) cited 966 Lexington Avenue, a simple mixed-use building that wasn’t named in the original historic district, but probably would have been included had the district been designated today. “It takes time to appreciate a new style,” Kelly said. “We want to see the commission take a harder look at those buildings, not make exceptions for them.” To help the public understand all the changes afoot, MAS has released a set of interactive maps for each category of permit to help the public understand what landmarks currently exist and how they’ve been modified over time. Unlike other preservation groups AN consulted, however, MAS conditionally supports the changes that would move items out of the public hearings. “As long as these rules are strong, robust, and thoughtful and take into consideration the recommendations that we have for the rules, and the staff is well-trained and well-supported in their ability to execute the regulation, we don’t have a problem with the staff doing so,” Kelly said. Although the chatter around the changes to the public hearing is loud (especially on preservation Twitter), the new meeting rules would affect relatively few items. A LPC spokesperson said that each year, the vast majority of the approximately 14,000 permit applications are decided by staff, while fewer than 1,000 items get discussed at the public meetings. Right now, the agency has 36 staff members reviewing permits, and they will welcome three new permit-reviewing staffers in fiscal year 2019, which begins in July. Taken together, the number of permit-reviewing staff has increased 44 percent between fiscal years 2013 and 2019.  Even so, the increasing number of permit applications places stress on the commissioners at the public hearing—only LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan is paid for her work. The other ten commissioners take time away from their practices as architects and planners to serve in a volunteer capacity on the commission nearly every week. Of the items that go to public hearing, the LPC contends in its summary of the new rules that agency staff could “approve a variety of work-types that are consistently approved by the Commission utilizing established criteria.” AN spoke with a government insider familiar with the proceedings who confirmed that the changes are intended to save staff time and increase efficiency so LPC staffers can process more applications. Overall, the insider said the intended goal is to make the process easier for homeowners and developers. The rules changes were a long time coming. Beginning in February 2017, the LPC convened multiple meetings with eight leading preservation groups to discuss the agency's ideas. A LPC spokesperson confirmed that representatives from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, MAS, the Brooklyn Heights Association, HDC, Society for the Architecture of the City, Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, Landmarks West!, and GVSHP were shown criteria for specific types of work and asked for input on the criteria. As part of its outreach, agency representatives also met with community boards, members of the public, and other preservation groups, as well as AIA New York (AIANY), Urban Green Council, the NY Bar Association, and REBNY. In addition to those groups, LPC staffers solicited input from window manufactures, expeditors, and preservation architects on the rules. The current draft was released in January of this year. Suzanne Mecs, managing director of AIANY, delivered a statement in support of the rule changes. The organization characterized the public hearings in pursuit of a Certificate of Appropriateness as “a process that can often be expensive, time-consuming, and complicated.” With more items decided on by staff, AIANY believes the public hearing process will improve because, it reasoned, the commission will have more time to focus on “complicated preservation projects with subjective design considerations or innovative technical solutions that do not readily conform to the previously-established criteria of the Commission.” The AIA held a forum on the changes with its members and Srinivasan in early March. For those who want to weigh in on the rules, the meeting begins tomorrow, March 27, at 9:00 a.m. The agenda and more details can be found here. Edward Gunts contributed reporting.
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What is going on with the AT&T Building lobby?

Last month The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reported that the AT&T Building's lobby was demolished. Now, though, preservationists believe the lobby at 550 Madison Avenue is more intact than previously thought. Permits for the lobby demolition were issued in December, and in January, developer Chelsfield and investment group Olayan America, the team behind the postmodern tower's redesign, confirmed the interior had been sledgehammered. Acting on that information, Manhattan Community Board 5's (CB5) Landmarks Committee voted on a draft resolution last month that condemned the development team's decision to demolish the lobby in the middle of talks with the board and preservation groups like the Municipal Art Society (MAS) and Docomomo US, among others. Although the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) excluded the lobby of the Philip Johnson and John Burgee–designed tower from landmark consideration last November, 20th century preservation experts consider the interior and exterior of the building to be one cohesive space, even after early 1990s renovations enclosed the lobby and surrounding arcades. Earlier this month, however, preservation activist Thomas Collins said he walked by the building and saw most of the lobby was still intact. Most of the granite walls, the oculus, and the ceiling appear to be there. At the top of the arch, the north wall was still visible, but when Collins walked by the building today, the lobby was scaffolded up to the oculus level. It appears the main plan is to rotate the elevators a quarter-turn, opening up a sightline from Madison Avenue into a garden that will replace an annex and the enclosed arcade between 55th and 56th streets. In Collins's estimation, the programmatic requirements of the proposed work do not necessitate cosmetic changes outlined in the demolition permits. He believes the elevators could be rotated while "[retaining] 80 to 90 percent of the historic fabric.” When prompted for an accurate and detailed description of the work performed, a spokesperson for the developer issued the following statement, which was attributed to Chelsfield Managing Director David Laurie:

"We are six weeks into an approximately eight-week demolition process, consistent with LPC-approved permits issued in December. The entire space is beyond restoration with the majority of the lobby’s features now removed. This renovation work is in accordance with our plans to revitalize 550 Madison, making it viable for multi-tenant occupancy."

Through the spokesperson, Laurie declined to elaborate on repeated requests to give details on whether the floors, fixtures, and interior partitions had been demolished per the permits for the $100,000 project that were issued in December. Architect Scott Spector, principal of Spector Group Architects, is signing permits for this phase of the lobby project. Given the developer's reluctance to share details on the state of the lobby, the community board is trying to determine the exact scope and scale of the demolition-in-progress. "Until we know it is not correct, we cannot take any information as fact until [the board] can verify it," CB5 Landmarks Committee Chair Layla Law-Gisiko said. "If we were to find out that it was a misrepresentation, it would be very disappointing and worrying. We're always trying to work in good faith with all the stakeholders." She added that the board knows the building must be altered to prepare it for multi-tenant occupancy, but that the alterations must be contextual. "Putting Philip Johnson's architecture in the dumpster? No," she said. At the full CB5 board meeting last week, members approved a resolution in support of landmarking, and encouraged the LPC to review the lobby as-is for potential interior landmark designation. The resolution also recommended reverting the public spaces Sony (the primary tenant after AT&T) had converted to retail in 1993 back to public use. Although community board decisions are non-binding, the LPC takes them into account in its deliberations. In addition to CB5's voice, five local politicians signed a letter to Laurie urging the development team to "engage in a good-faith dialogue" with preservationists and others to make sure the renovations honor Johnson and Burgee's original design intent. The undersigned—two state senators, two assembly members, and new City Council District 4 rep Keith Powers—said they understood the lobby wasn't up for landmark consideration, but encouraged Chelsfield and Olayan America to treat the space sensitively nonetheless. This latest controversy is an aftershock from the October reveal of Snøhetta's renovations, which sought to replace 550 Madison's imposing pink granite facade with an undulating glass curtain wall that would expose the 37-story tower's steel framework. The $300 million redo was met with an avalanche of criticism, with some architects and pomo enthusiasts taking to the streets to protest the planned changes. Collins took the lead on the landmarks nomination, preparing the LPC paperwork for the building's nomination. These are the first major changes to 550 Madison, as the building is now officially known, since Olayan America acquired the property for $1.4 billion in May 2016. Since last February, records show the owners have paid two lobbying firms over a quarter-million dollars to attempt to influence the Manhattan Borough President, the Department of City Planning, and various council members—not an unusual move for a development of this caliber. This year, the group has retained the lobbyists at Kasirer to speak with the Manhattan Borough President, the Department of Buildings, community boards, and the LPC, among other entities. Records show the group, working as OAC 550 Owner LLC, has spent no money so far in 2o18 on these efforts, however. An AN reporter went to eyeball the lobby on February 2, looking for possible changes. Whereas it was previously possible to see into the space through cracks in the butcher paper, workers have taped the cover-ups to the glass so thoroughly that none of the lobby is visible from the street. For his part, Collins believes the permits are for preemptive demolition. "They don't have a plan for the interior; they just want to mess up enough of the interior so the LPC won't touch it," he said. This story has been updated to clarify the scope and impact of the interior renovation.
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Skyscraper Museum releases interactive Lower Manhattan walking map

The Skyscraper Museum has updated the historic Heritage Trails map and released it as an interactive online resource. The original 199os map created by Richard D. Kaplan covers landmarks in Lower Manhattan and was intended to draw tourists and visitors to the area after the 1987 stock market crash and the recession of 1994. Along with moving the map online, the Skyscraper Museum has added sites from 1998 to the present day. The walking trails used in the original map are preserved in the new online version. Richard D. Kaplan was an architect whose family established J. D. Kaplan Fund, a private foundation in New York supporting the arts, civil rights, parks, and preservation in New York. The interest in mapping out New York City’s buildings using technology has not only been a venture of the Skyscraper Museum. Another interactive map that explains New York’s landmarks has been created by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The LPC map allows users to find landmarks by architect, style, and other categories. Meanwhile the Concrete New York Map created by Blue Crow Media looks strictly at brutalist architecture across New York City. The Heritage Trails map points users to four possible trails. The Green trail covers the east side of the Financial District and moves down south to Battery Park City; sites here include Battery Park City and the Statue of Liberty. The Blue trail is focused on Chinatown and the Seaport, including the Fulton Fish Market and the Federal Reserve Bank. The Red trail covers Broadway and Chinatown, stopping at Little Italy, and includes Newspaper Row and St. Paul’s Chapel. The Orange trail is on the west side of Lower Manhattan and includes the World Trade Center and the American Stock Exchange. The interactive map offers a new way of looking at city landmarks. For example, one sight poses the question, “What has 200 elevators, 1,200 restrooms, 40,000 doorknobs, 200,000 lighting fixtures, 7 million square feet of acoustical tile ceilings, more structural steel than the Verrazano Narrows Bridge?” The answer: The World Trade Center.
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A rare Art Moderne church in Chicago is slated for renovation

Faced with a declining congregation, Chicago’s First Church of Deliverance had fallen into a cycle of deferred maintenance. Luckily, on January 11, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development announced a $228,000 grant from the Adopt-a-Landmark fund to renovate the historic structure. In exchange for zoning bonuses, Chicago-based developers provide funding for the Adopt-a-Landmark program. Located in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, the First Church of Deliverance was designed by Walter T. Bailey in 1939, and has been a Chicago landmark since 1994. Bailey, Illinois’ first licensed African-American architect, redesigned the church in the Streamline Moderne style with sweeping curves, smooth finishes, strict horizontality, and the use of glass-block windows. It is one of the few, if not only, church structures in Chicago designed in this style. According to Southside Weekly, the core of the church came into being in 1929 with the conversion of a defunct hat-lining factory into a house of worship, with Bailey’s work formalizing the building’s use. The twin towers found on the primary elevation were added in 1946, and were colloquially referred to by the congregation as the “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” The renovation will restore Bailey’s terracotta façade, doors, and the church’s interior murals. Chicago-based artist Fred Jones designed the surviving murals located on the church interior. Jones studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and his work is described by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks as containing a “slightly abstract, neo-romantic vision,” one seeped in the subject matter of the “urban African-American community.” For the last 80 years, the First Church of Deliverance has broadcasted its gospel music, establishing itself as a regional nexus and laboratory for the genre. According to Curbed, the national exposure of the church’s radio program led to the involvement of prestigious African-American musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington and Sallie Martin. The church’s long-standing role in gospel music has certainly benefited from it being one of the first houses of worship in the country to install a Hammond electric organ. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Frederick J. Nelson Jr., as organist and music director of the First Church of Deliverance, taught organ to hundreds students from the church and surrounding community. Although Southside Weekly reports that the First Church of Deliverance’s congregation is unlikely to grow, the future renovation will cement the building’s place in Chicago’s architectural and social history and insure the aesthetic integrity of the city landmark.
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Architects must do more to protect our threatened public lands

Although debating the ideal size, role, and scope of the federal government is one of America’s great national pastimes, there has typically been surprisingly broad and consistent support for the Antiquities Act of 1906, a landmark conservation law passed by Congress and enacted by President Theodore Roosevelt 111 years ago.

The law, generally speaking, grants the United States government—particularly, the President—broad authority in designating federally owned lands as national monuments. The effort is made as part of a federally recognized network of protections, which includes the National Park Service, in order to retain and perpetuate public use of wild, scenic, and culturally significant landscapes. The Antiquities Act is responsible for securing some of the most sublime and irreplaceable landscapes the country has to offer, such as the Grand Canyon, Giant Sequoia National Monument, Devils Tower, and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, for current and future generations. The act, more or less, protects America’s—and Americans’—most literal and shared heritage: land.

But like so many other cultural and political norms and traditions under the new presidential administration, the Antiquities Act is facing an existential threat.

This April, President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. Department of the Interior not only to review 27 specific national monuments created under the last three presidential administrations but also to review the law itself, calling the Antiquities Act a “massive federal land grab.” President Ronald Reagan has been the only president not to name any new national monuments; President Trump is threatening to be the first to rescind existing monuments.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spent the summer observing the new monuments—including Bears Ears National Monument, in Utah, which was expanded under President Obama and has drawn ire from local landowners and politicians. Zinke completed his review in late August but is keeping the findings close to his chest, revealing that “some changes” were in store, without making the report fully public (at press time). It is expected, however, that Bears Ears Monument will shrink in size—current estimates predict it will be reduced from 1.35 million acres to just 160,000—but that, according to Zinke, the government would “maintain federal ownership of all federal land and protect the land under federal environmental regulations.” The move is fiercely opposed by Native American communities, including the Navajo Nation and Hopi and Zuni reservations, which surround the monument.

For now, we wait to see the full extent of Zinke’s report. And while we do not know where the administration’s review of the Antiquities Act itself will head, the effort—when combined with unsuccessful motions to backtrack on Obama-era methane-emissions regulations, successful measures allowing for increased mining runoff into streams, and incentivizing programs for coal projects on federal lands—it is clear the president intends to tarnish the nation’s lands in concert with violating its institutions and norms.

In the same way that architects have led the way in saving architectural relics via support for historic preservation and the National Register of Historic Places—also administered by the Department of the Interior—we must become more vocal in our support for retaining and, in fact, expanding public access to public lands. The National Park System is currently languishing with a $12 billion backlog of repairs. Efforts like the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE) Crew, which connects young people to preservation-related trades through on-the-ground work, is a positive first step, but more work and support are needed.

As with historic preservation, national monuments exist to perpetuate and preserve our most meaningful and compelling spaces and can, moving forward, even work to highlight forgotten or marginalized histories and cultures. Natural landscapes, like cultural landscapes and historic structures and neighborhoods, are vital to the architectural profession and the country alike.

The federal government should keep its hands off these lands, and architects would do well to fight publicly for their protection. 

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See a map of New York City landmarks the LPC designated today

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to designate eight items as New York City landmarks. The designees—churches, residences, and one lighthouse—were part of Backlog 95, the LPC's initiative to consider 95 items that have been up for designation for years, sometimes decades. The map below shows the location of the city's newest landmarks: The LPC granted landmark status to three Staten Island houses: The George William and Anna Curtis House, St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church Rectory, and the 92 Harrison Street House. The George William and Anna Curtis House was nominated in 1966 and prioritized for backlog clearance in November of last year. The 1859 Italianate-inspired home belonged to a couple active in the abolitionist movement. The Curtis's built their home from Andrew Jackson Downing's pattern books, and George William, one commissioner noted, was in contact with the illustrious Frederick Law Olmsted. The half-timbered Queen Anne–style St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church Rectory from the 1880s, with an almost original historic facade and interiors (although these are not considered for landmarking) was designated. An 1853 Greek Revival home, the 92 Harrison Street House, received the commission's blessings despite the owner's ambivalence and borough president James Oddo's concern about the designation. LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan was enthusiastic about the new landmarked homes. "Staten Island is home to many 18th and 19th century homes. We are pleased to bring three of these houses forward. Not only are they architecturally interesting, but the social and cultural history of the occupants adds additional distinction." On the South Shore, the commission designated the Prince's Bay Lighthouse Complexa suite of vernacular 1860s buildings that includes a lighthouse (whose luminous feature was replaced by a statue of the virgin Mary in the 1920s), a keeper's and carriage house. The complex represents the maritime industry that once thrived on Staten Island, commissioners noted. Across the harbor in Manhattan, the LPC voted on two Tribeca properties: 315 Broadway, and Italianate-style "commercial palace" from the 1860s, and 160 Chambers Street, the (Former) Firehouse Engine Company 29. 315 Broadway reflects the neighborhood's history as a dry goods storage mecca, with its handsome marble facade and (partially concealed) cast-iron storefront. 160 Chambers, a Second Empire–style row house that was converted to a firehouse in 1868. Architect Nathaniel D. Bush added two stories and a mansard roof to the three-story row house, which has since been returned to its original residential use. In Harlem, the commission designated two churches, St. Joseph of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church and St. Paul Roman Catholic Church. The former, an 1860 structure, was praised for the "simplicity and elegance" of its Rundbogenstil (round arch–style) design. The Romanesque Revival St. Paul's church and school, constructed almost 50 years later, sports medieval and classical features on the facades of both buildings.
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Manhattan’s historic St. Sava Church destroyed in shocking post-Easter blaze

[UPDATE: Officials now say candles were likely the cause] Late Sunday night, the landmarked Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava on West 25th Street in Nomad was engulfed in a four-alarm fire, hours after parishioners wrapped up Easter services. The St. Sava Church, where writer Edith Wharton was married, is an English Gothic Revival structure designed by Richard Upjohn and built in 1855. On Twitter, reactions to the fire were as swift as the blaze itself: https://twitter.com/TedGrunewald/status/727210957827629058 The church, local preservation activist Theodore Grunewald noted, had one of New York City's largest hammerbeam roofs: https://twitter.com/TedGrunewald/status/726982205952659456 https://twitter.com/Angelina_Sje/status/727288125081407488 https://twitter.com/SerbianWorld/status/727271444586094593 The aftermath shows a burned-out shell, the timber roof reduced to char on the church floor. As locals mourned the destruction of the historic site, some, including city council member Cory Johnson, suspected foul play. Developers have had their eyes on the site's air rights. WNYC initially reported that the FDNY has deemed the fire suspicious, partially due to the large volume of smoke billowing from the site when firefighters arrived on the scene around 7 P.M., although later reports posit that the fire was caused by an unattended box of candles.