Morris Adjmi Architects and developer Jeffrey Gershon's Hope Street Capital have presented plans for a 29-story apartment building in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for permitting. The rise of the 312-foot-tall tower at 550 Clinton Avenue is contingent on the developer’s plan to consolidate the rest of the block into a single lot, and transfer the resultant air rights to 550 Clinton. 60,000 square feet of the 70,000 square feet required would come from the nearby Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, a landmarked church in dire need of façade repairs. The air rights transfer hinges on LPC approval of the church’s renovation, spearheaded by Li/Saltzman Architects, and the commission kicked the project back for minor tweaks at Tuesday’s meeting. Adjmi’s tower would rise on top of a 52-foot-tall base that snakes around the lot to Atlantic Avenue and Vanderbilt. While the entire building would be clad in tan precast concrete throughout and feature windows with metal mullions, the LPC presentation indicates that the windows on the tower portion would be tripartite and span from the floor to the ceiling of the units within. Most distinctively, the tower would taper at the base and twist on the south side to meet the cantilevered upper portion. While 550 Clinton could only be built at 96,000 square feet as of right now, with the spot rezoning being requested and transfer of air rights, the final project could be as large as 238,000 square feet. 34,000 square feet would be for commercial use in the building’s base, while 202,000 square feet would be allocated for residential units. This would be allowed only through the application of Section 74-711 of the city Zoning Resolution, which allows concessions for height and bulk if a maintenance plan is set up for a landmark on the same lot. The LPC’s chagrin on the 9th resulted from questions over the materials that would be used for the façade repair of the church at 520 Clinton Avenue. Commissioner Michael Devonshire took aim at the developer’s use of composite materials to patch the front of the brownstone church instead of the original stone, noting such repairs typically last for only 25 years. Instead of voting on the residential development or restoration, the commission has asked Li/Saltzman Architects to address this issue and present at a later date. Adjmi’s design didn’t escape the meeting unscathed either, as critics called the tower project “severely stark” and inappropriate for a neighborhood where the buildings are typically brick or sandstone. The proposal comes amidst a development boom in the Downtown Brooklyn area, and 550 Clinton is only blocks away from the Pacific Park megaproject. The full presentation given to the LPC is available here.
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You could literally smell the champagne aroma at Tuesday night's gala reopening of New York City Center. Row upon row of glasses were poured just before the doors opened to reveal Ennead's $56 million renovation of the beloved hall. Backstage, wide-eyed dancers and musicians rushed with palpable pre-performance angst. Duncan Hazard, Ennead's partner in charge of the restoration, gave us a whirlwind tour before the curtain went up. Built in 1923 as a meeting house for the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, the building was purchased by the city in 1943. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia wanted a theater for the people, one that rivaled the city's best venues for quality but not price. Here, Paul Robeson shared an historic interracial kiss with Uta Hagen in Othello, Balanchine brought Mariinsky flair to the New York City Ballet, and Beverly Sills's performance as Cleopatra at City Opera made her a star. Both New York City Ballet and City Opera decamped for Lincoln Center in the 70s leaving the poor house in something of a shambles. The management went about restoring the repertoire well before the building. Hugely successful series programming, such as Encores! and Fall for Dance sustained audiences and coffers. The Center is now a major venue for dance and concerts. Jazz at Lincoln Center will soon be partnering up. With the beleaguered City Opera now in its gypsy season, unable to afford Lincoln Center, perhaps they too should consider a prodigal coming home--if there's room. Originally built as a lecture hall, the sight lines for the balconies were meant to focus on a single speaker, not an opera or dance. The first order of business for Ennead was to replace the mezzanine and balcony flooring and stagger the seating. Seat width went from 17 inches wide to 22 inches. Over the years multicolored stenciling and plasterwork were whitewashed and accented in gold. Historic black and white photographs didn't reveal much, so Rustin Levenson Art Conservation Associates conducted an analysis of the original colors . Li/Saltzman served as preservation consultants and over a dozen painters from Creative Finishes spent weeks on their backs restoring a ceiling which had absorbed years of tobacco smoke, layers of shellac, and at least one restoration effort conducted by a high school class. Ennead contemporarily incorporated an original Moorish geometric star motif throughout: in millwork beneath the Grand Tier bar, through patterns in the arched glass marquee, and in a trellis-like screen that melds with video screens at the downstairs lobby. Workers completed backstage renovations last year and this year they finished the front of the house in a mere seven months. With minutes to go before opening, Hazard sat back in a mezzanine seat admiring the hard work. "The element of the new shouldn't be from the moon," he said. "When people return they should still recognize this as the City Center, but City Center to the Nth degree!"