Posts tagged with "LPC":

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Preservationists rejoice as Midtown East welcomes 11 new landmarks

Today it took the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) only an hour to rebuke some of the city's most powerful real estate interests by designating 11 new landmarks in Midtown East.

After hearing public testimony on the Ambassador Grill & Lounge and Hotel Lobby, the commission decided that the Pershing Square Building and the Graybar Building, as well as the Shelton Hotel Building, the Yale Club of New York City, and seven smaller structures, all between East 39th to East 57th streets, from Fifth to Second avenues, were worthy of landmark status.

As the neighborhood is rezoned to allow developers to build more Class A office space, preservationists are concerned that increased height and density allowances will threaten the district's historic architecture. To address the neighborhood's challenges in the face of impending change, in 2014 Mayor Bill de Blasio created East Midtown Steering Committee, a coalition of city agencies, reals estate interests, and nonprofits tasked with creating guidelines to shape growth. The LPC was asked to collaborate with the Department of City Planning (DCP) to make sure important historic items were calendared before DCP moved ahead with the rezoning.

Even as LPC commissioners praised the partnership between their agency and DCP as a "model" of future collaboration, groups with a financial stake in Midtown East especially opposed landmarking buildings like the Pershing Square and Graybar, which harbor key subway and commuter rail access points.

Although city officials who represent the district supported the landmarking of the Pershing Square Building, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), Grand Central Partnership, the Riders Alliance, and architect Vishaan Chakrabarti, the founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), argued in July that landmark status would make it harder to upgrade the infrastructure underneath, a potential damper on the neighborhood's projected growth.

The Graybar Building faced a similar geography of public opinion. Despite support from the Municipal Arts Society (MAS), Landmarks Conservancy, and city officials who represent the district, the landmarking was opposed by the owners, SL Green.

In today's meeting, the LPC refuted the real estate and transportation groups' arguments with an appeal to history. The Pershing Square Building especially, said Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, was developed concurrently with crucial infrastructure. “Mass transit is part of this building. The commission recognizes infrastructure improvements will take place, and historic buildings can adapt to that.”

"The city is undergoing radical transformation," said commissioner Adi Shamir Baron. Highlighting the massive construction site that will soon be One Vanderbilt, she added that even as demolitions represent the health and growth of the city, "the designation of these buildings, individually but especially in aggregate, these 11 go some way towards filling that gaping hole."

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Fate of the glamorous postmodern Ambassador Grill still perilously unclear

Today the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) solicited input on the future of the city's best-known—and most threatened—postmodern interior.

The commission heard testimony from its research department and members of the public on ONE UN New York Hotel's (formerly the United Nations Hotel) Lobby and Ambassador Grill & Lounge, two glittery disco-era spaces designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associates

As recently as January, the spaces inside the Midtown East building were set to be demolished by property owner Millennium Hotels and Resorts.

Local luminaries like Robert A.M. Stern, Belmont Freeman, and Alexandra Lange, as well as a bi-coastal Docomomo contingent spoke in favor of landmarking. The item would be the first postmodern interior to be designated a New York City landmark, and the "youngest" after Roche and Dinkeloo's Ford Foundation (1963-68) which has interior and exterior landmark status.

The Ambassador Grill & Lounge, a small U-shaped restaurant in a windowless basement (1976), sports inset light fixtures, vaulted faux skylight clad in trellised mylar panels, and more shiny surfaces than Studio 54, all of which create the illusion of capaciousness and light. Along East 44th Street, the hotel lobby (1983) features a stepped glass dome roof accessed via a freestanding marble-columned hallway. The LPC’s research department called the connected rooms some of the "best public spaces" of New York from that period. 

The researchers' conclusions were reflected in public testimony that invoked the glamour of the rooms and their role in the see-and-be-seen public life of the city. Liz Waytkus, executive director of modern architecture preservation organization Docomomo, called Roche and Dinkeloo's interiors “among the best” public spaces of the era. In contrast to the severity of modernism, the fluid spaces reflect a “humanistic” energy not often associated with the architecture of the time.

Docomomo’s Jessica Smith read a statement on behalf of Robert A.M. Stern. Stern offered “strong support” of designation, noting that Roche designed both the building itself and its interiors. He called the grill and lobby “masterworks of modernism produced by a master at his prime,” comparing them to surviving postmodern peers like Sir John Soane's Museum in London and Adolf Loos’s American Bar in Vienna. Smith also read a statement for Curbed architecture critic Alexandra Lange, who said her research on postwar American corporate design suggests the rooms represent a “key moment” in late modern design. "The interiors change scale and increase the sensuality of a pair of large skyscrapers that draw the prismatic curtain walls of the UN buildings inside, creating a total work of architecture."

To the frustration of many who testified, including Docomomo and the preservation advocacy organization Historic Districts Council (HDC), the commission did not include the lobby’s sunken seating area in the designation. The LPC said it believed the relative lack of original elements in the seating area merited exclusion, as the main lobby and hypostyle corridor under consideration offer a “processional experience” to and from the grill. 

The iconic interiors have attracted attention beyond New York City. Daniel Paul, a Southern California–based architectural historian and expert in late modern glass skin architecture, flew in from L.A. to attend today’s meeting. Early this morning, he went to the hotel to check on the state of the interiors. Millennium, he said, has altered the space substantially but not irreversibly. In the grill, the faux skylight is covered in a semi-opaque “cheap-looking” plastic, while the neon acrylic wine racks were replaced by wood features. The bar’s tivoli lights are gone, and its mirrored backdrop has been replaced with wallpaper. 

Despite the recent changes, Paul, a Docomomo member who with Waytkus drafted the RFE (a Request for Evaluation, the first step in the landmark process), said that Roche and Dinkeloo’s work is one of the most intact “high design” spaces of the era. “Taste goes in cycles,” he said. "When the cycle of appreciation takes a dip, that’s when these spaces are the most vulnerable." Roche has offered to work with the property owners pro bono to see how the distinctive features could be preserved while updating the space to their satisfaction. (Update: In an email to Paul during the hearing today, Roche stated that his office would be willing to do an initial consultation pro bono but then "see where it goes.")

Representatives from Millennium did not comment at today's meeting.

As the discussion concluded, LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan stated that the commission would do further research and vote at to-be-determined meeting.

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Terra-cotta facade bridges its historic surroundings and modern technology

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A new 34,000-square-foot residential building in New York's Noho neighborhood resonates with a landmarked district of highly crafted facades by echoing their predominantly low-rise scales, regular structural bay rhythms, and large windows. The 11-unit building is located on Bond Street—a two-block street that has become notable for its wave of contemporary architecture (Herzog & de Meuron's first residential project in the United States, as well as buildings by Deborah Berke Partners, and BKSK Architects, among others). Among these recent projects, 10 Bond Street, designed by New York-based Selldorf Architects, further adds to a context where historic and contemporary architecture coexist in complementary fashion. Sara Lopergolo, partner at Selldorf Architects, said that the project team was inspired by the deep russet colored brick of existing buildings adjacent to the project site on Lafayette Street. "Working on the proportions and the scale of the building was important to us. We wanted to find something very grounded in the neighborhood, but also present a contemporary face for this new building.” Selldorf Architects worked with Boston Valley Terra Cotta to design a rainscreen cladding of profiled panels in a custom glaze. The panels are trimmed with weathered steel, which rises beyond the facade to frame a rooftop terrace. On grade, the entry is marked with a mahogany ship-lapped siding.
  • Facade Manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta
  • Architects Selldorf Architects
  • Facade Installer Crowne Architectural Systems
  • Facade Consultants Frank Seta & Associates, LLC
  • Location New York City, NY
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System reinforced concrete with terra cotta rainscreen
  • Products Weathered steel from FacadeTek; Custom glazed terra cotta and standard Terraclad panels from Boston Valley; Exterior shades: Nysan-Hunter Douglas Windows: Peerless Storefront windows and corner windows: YKK; Masionette exterior and garage door: Mahogany ship-lapped siding with marine grade clear finish; Penthouse Trellis: Weathered steel structure with mahogany louvers
According to Lopergolo, the terra-cotta manufacturing process is akin to an “advanced Play-Doh machine,” allowing the production of highly specific custom shapes and colors. “We've been working with terra-cotta for a very long time and like to think of this as our material even though others are using it. What is so lovely about it is that its color is customizable, and that you can shape it anyway you like. The glaze creates a certain depth and character that you can't get out of other materials. The way the light catches it is very nice.” Bill Pottle, Boston Valley's international sales manager, said that the two companies have collaborated on a handful of projects. “Around 2000, the first terra-cotta rainscreen job came to the United States. Since then, the material has become very popular—it has grown from something rarely used by architects to a material that has made it into an everyday palette. 10 Bond Street is part of a second wave of terra-cotta jobs we are seeing that incorporate larger, more three-dimensional shaped pieces, not just flat rainscreen panels.” In the case of 10 Bond, the panels were manufactured around 36-inches long and weighed in at around 150 pounds each. The larger, more complex panels require more thought be put into the detailing of attachment clips. According to Boston Valley, often this results in modification of standard clip details, or in some cases the development of a one-off custom attachment detail. According to Pottle, most terra-cotta panels have a shrinkage rate of around seven percent, which is accommodated by digital software when producing dye geometry. "We use the same clay body mixtures and the same formulas so we can determine the shrinkage rate well before production." To help manage shrinkage throughout the process, the panels are constructed with a hollow core that incorporates webs to support a scalloped profile. The backs of the panels are flat to allow for the pieces to lay on a flat surface throughout the curing and glazing process. Full-size mock-ups allowed the architects to confirm a specific coloration and helped the project team to finalize custom attachment clip detailing. Lopergolo said one of the challenges with the weight of the panels was ensuring open joints between panels were dimensionally uniform. Pottle said the mock-up process is also an essential opportunity for the manufacturer to confirm quality control. Mock-ups allowed Boston Valley to see how the custom dyes were performing and helped ensure the extrusion process ran properly prior to the upcoming production phase. They will examine the extrusion process for quality control and confirm the rate of shrinkage of the pieces is accurate. A skewed street grid presented the design team with what Lopergolo called a "fun and challenging" floor plan layout exercise. A living room location at the southwest corner receives a wrap around corner window unit, and benefits from an automated exterior shading system, which is integrated into the buildings two primary facades—a southeastern and southwestern exposure. Occupants can override sensors that drive exterior shade motors. Selldorf Architects, who work on a range of project types—galleries, museums, housing—said its work with New York Landmarks Preservation Commission is especially significant. "We enjoy working with Landmarks—what they contribute is important for the city. With these condominium buildings, of course, the goal is to make nice apartments for our clients, but we also see this as an opportunity to give back to the city. We're very proud of this project—we'll still receive random emails from strangers saying they passed by the building and loved it—it is very sweet that people take the time to do that."
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Downtown Manhattan could be getting another historic district

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) today voted to calendar and move forward on the creation of the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District, the third and final phase of a proposed South Village Historic District. The new district, which has been a goal of preservationists for a decade, would be bounded by Houston Street to the north, Watts Street to the south, 6th Avenue to the west, and Thompson Street to the east, abutting the Soho Cast Iron Historic District extension. 60 percent of the building stock in the neighborhood was built before 1840. The collection of rowhouses and tenements includes many early examples of Italianate, Queen Anne, and Beaux-Arts styles. It is not your everyday proposed historic district, however. It is connected to the controversy surrounding the proposed rezoning of the St. John’s Terminal site at 550 Washington St., which many in the neighborhood have been opposed to due to its scale and proximity to the South Village neighborhood. This is exacerbated by the New York State Legislature’s approval of 1.3 million square feet of air rights/FAR that could end up being bought and used for parcels in the nearby neighborhood that the new historic district would protect, and in fact, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), “in recent years developers like Donald Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has [sic] bought properties in the neighborhood such as 156 Sullivan Street, formerly the home of beloved neighborhood institution Joe’s Dairy.” The St. John’s terminal project continues to be controversial, as it still needs approval from City Council, a process that could take a while. The project has raised concerns in the community and is still evolving. The GVSHP, with the support of CB2 and councilmember Corey Johnson, is using the creation of the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District as part of a list of demands that Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital Group, the developers of 550 Washington St., should meet if they want to develop the proposal at St. John’s Terminal. According to Johnson’s office, the list includes a call for real public open space, public community facilities, more financial support for the pier, significant pedestrian safety measures and traffic mitigation for Hudson Square, and limits on the size of retail at the new development, which has already been reduced when the City Planning Commission removed the “big box” stores from the plan. The St. John’s Terminal project is being considered in a public hearing today, where the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will weigh in on the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which is required for a rezoning of the Washington Street site in order to make it residential. Westfield wants to purchase air rights from Pier 40 for the site across the street and get a new zoning designation in order to build residential. The next step for the historic district will be an LPC public hearing which will be on November 29, and will likely be voted on in December.
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Waldorf Astoria’s art deco interiors one step closer to landmark status

The Waldorf Astoria hotel is one of the most important works of art deco architecture in New York City. Its interior spaces, designed in 1929 by Schultze & Weaver, embody the spirit of the Jazz Age architecture that captured the city in the 1920s. The exterior was landmarked in 1993. Today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to calendar the interior spaces for designation, most of which are part of the block-long network of interiors. The new designation could protect the large spaces and connecting hallways, many of which are publicly accessible. Putting the interiors on the calendar is the first official step in the landmarking process. Chinese holding company Anbang Insurance Group purchased the building for $1.95 billion in 2014 and is looking to invest up to $1 billion more for a major renovation that could transform the hotel into luxury residential apartments. The building is scheduled to close for renovations from spring 2017 until 2020. In a statement released today, Anbang declared its support for the LPC's move:
Anbang knows the Waldorf’s history is a large part of what makes this hotel so special. That’s why we fully support the LPC’s recommendation for what would be one of the most extensive interior landmark designations of any privately owned building in New York. These designations are consistent with our vision and will protect the Waldorf’s significant public spaces. We are now finalizing renovation plans for the Waldorf that preserve these spaces and will ensure that the Waldorf will provide memorable experiences for generations to come. We look forward to sharing our plans publicly when they are complete.
The spaces under review include the Park Ave foyer and colonnade, the West Lounge (a.k.a. “Peacock Alley”), the East Arcade, the Lexington Avenue stairs, assorted lobbies and vestibules, the Ballroom entrance hall, and the famous Grand Ballroom. The ballroom hosts many high-profile events, including the Al Smith dinner that serves as comedic relief each presidential election season as the two candidates take light-hearted jabs at each other. The decadent architectural details inside represent an early embrace of the Machine age, even if in a “superficial way,” as described Marianne Lamonaca, author of Grand Hotels of the Jazz Age, a 2005 book about New York’s remarkable hotels of the era. "This is one of the most distinctive interiors in the city," Commissioner Frederick Bland explained. "In Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas writes a whole chapter on this extraordinary city within a city. I always encourage my students to visit this sequence of spaces. That is what make this so special to me. It is public, or nearly public. To walk on that main axis, entering from Park Avenue, and ending up down a level on Lexington is wonderful. It is probably my favorite interior in all of New York. The fact that it is not landmarked already is really horrifying. This is a delightful day for me."
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Studio Gang’s AMNH expansion gets the green light from Landmarks Preservation Commission

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved plans for a major expansion to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York. In almost 90 pages of presentation materials, representatives from Studio Gang, preservation consultants Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, and landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand demonstrated to the commission and the public how they would demolish three museum buildings constructed between 1874 and 1935 to make way for the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. In a radical but elegant departure from AMNH's mélange of Victorian gothic, Beaux Arts, Richardson Romanesque, and contemporary buildings, the 195,000-square-foot Gilder Center, inside and out, takes formal cues from geological strata, glacier-gouged caves, curving canyons, and blocks of glacial ice. "Sleekness was never a goal—we wanted a richness of texture," explained Studio Gang design principal Wes Walker, in a pre-meeting model walkthrough with The Architect's Newspaper (AN). The pink Milford granite the designers intend to use for the facade is the same stone used for Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, the museum's main entrance on Central Park West. The Gilder Center granite will be sliced into two- and three-inch-thick bricks and arranged in diagonal bands on the facade to create the attractive variation that's produced by ornament on the neighboring 19th-century buildings. Bill Higgins (of Higgins Quasebarth) and Jeanne Gang detailed how the unconventional form will fit in with—and enhance—those buildings: The original, aggressively rectilinear master plan calls for architectural focal points on each of the museum's main facades. The angular forms are complemented by a playful, curvilinear landscape—plans show undulating paths that flank the imposing buildings. The rectangle/curve relationship remains at the Teddy Roosevelt entrance, and the Gilder Center, directly across the complex, extends and amplifies historic precedent—"[it's] an insertion into the historic fabric," said Gang. For AMNH, the new building is both an addition and connective tissue that bridges disparate programs. Museum president Ellen Futter explained that her institution needs to expand to accommodate five million annual visitors: Though its classroom and exhibition space will augment the museum's offerings, the Gilder Center is also a switchboard, connecting ten buildings at 30 different points. Inside and out, transparency and accessibility define the design. Vertical glazing on the facade lets visitors see deep into the structure, like looking into a fjord. Where the museums of past centuries defined their monumentality with great granite steps, the Gilder Center's no-step entrance allows for seamless access for people with mobility impairments or strollers. The addition will also open up sightlines to Building One, AMNH's first structure, via a passageway and additional gallery space. Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer, councilperson Helen Rosenthal's office, AIA New York, the Van Alen Institute, and the Columbus Avenue BID spoke in support of the addition, but preservation and neighborhood parks groups were not as bullish on the project. The Historic Districts Council (HDC), while offering that the Gilder Center "defers sensitively" to existing buildings, questioned the facade detailing and expressed concern about the building's exposed interior. The structural concrete columns that define the main space, HDC claims, are not clad in the same quality material as the facade. The group suggested Studio Gang refine the design further. Residents and members of park preservation groups spoke out against the Gilder Center because it encroaches on Theodore Roosevelt Park, and its construction requires the removal of seven mature trees. In response, Reed Hildebrand divided the layout into slow and fast programs—slow, or passive recreational activity will be directed away from the Gilder Center entrance, a meandering paved walkway shaded by (new) trees and curving flower beds. 80 percent of the addition will occupy the museum's existing footprint, and less than two percent of the 10-acre park will be sacrificed to AMNH. Noting the designers' willingness to adjust their designs in response to community concerns, the commissioners offered additional suggestions. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said that the cultural aspect of the museum was often absent from the conversation around the design, while other members suggested that the architects reconsider the stucco planned for a northern exterior wall. Commissioner Frederick Bland, an architect, noted that the essence of AMNH is its "excellent" architecture that has accrued on the site over time. He praised the design team's vision and level of detailing, adding that at this stage it can be dangerous to intrude on the details of another architects' design vocabulary. "Very seldom do you see a design this soaring and open," said commissioner Wellington Chen. "It's a stunning piece of architecture—the commission can be proud in approving the project," said Srinivasan. After hours of tension, a palpable wave of relief emanated from the assembled architects. After the LPC's vote, a smiling Jeanne Gang told AN that her team had to move the modeling and detailing much farther along than usual for this round of approvals. "We had to make the parametric model way ahead to figure out the coursing and interfaces with the masonry," she said. Next, the Gilder Center moves onto design development and through the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process towards an expected groundbreaking next year.
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Two modern developments in Manhattan’s Noho neighborhood given the green light by the LPC

A ten-story office complex on 363 Lafayette Street in Manhattan's Noho neighborhood has been awarded approval by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). Designed by local firm Morris Adjmi Architects, the scheme had previously been rejected. Another project, a multi-family residency just round the corner on 22 Bond Street by fellow New York practice BKSK Architects, was also given the go-ahead. Initially, Adjmi's design had employed double-height windows as part of a slightly angled and staggered facade that included a dash of greenery along its incremental edges. This design was rejected by the LPC in July earlier this year, but Adjmi's subsequent alterations did the trick this time around. The modifications included making sure the street corner doesn't feature the staggered angular fall-back—except for a major recession on the eighth floor)—which was a previous gripe of the LPC in July. These subtle angular increments now occur southwards down Lafayette Street and, unlike before, are in accordance with each level change. Furthermore, new glazing has been placed on the south-side of the building while additional window detailing features around every exposed facade. According to New York Yimby, in response to the latest iteration, Commissioner Michael Devonshire described the design as “beautiful.” Preservation consultant Elise Quasebarth from New York firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, who specialize in the preservation and rehabilitation of historic properties, commented that the architects had “strengthened [the] corner, using it as a pivot” to create “dynamic slicing” and “more graceful proportions." While commissioner Frederick Bland said it was a “terrible thing for a committee to nit pick [an architect’s work] to pieces,” he and the rest of the commissioners were happy with the design voting unanimously for its approval. Also vying for approval was New York studio BKSK for their multi-family dwelling lot on 22 Bond Street, a stone's throw away from Morris Adjmi's project. The design features minor changes to the front facade as well as a "braille sidewalk" that features cast-iron vault lights which illuminate the entrance area at night. A third project at 413-435 West 14th Street was also due for hearing but was laid over at the committee meeting. All three projects can be viewed in detail here, here and here (in order of appearance in this article).
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LPC grants tentative approval to New Classical replacement townhouse on site of blown-up Manhattan building

A decade ago, a Manhattan doctor made headlines when he blew himself up inside his beloved 62nd Street townhouse. Dr. Nicholas Bartha was forced to leave the building after a messy divorce, and he is thought to have triggered the explosion himself by tampering with a gas main as a final act of vengeance. The site’s spooky past was no match for the value of Manhattan real estate, and ten years later a new building has been approved for the site, 6sqft reports. The Woodbine Company purchased the 100- by 20-foot plot for approximately $12 million in 2015, and New York–based HS Jessup Architecture designed a 7,800-square-foot home to fit into the space. The building will have five bedrooms and five stories, and its New Classical design is meant to blend in with the surrounding townhouses. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has given approval for the building at 34 East 62nd Street, albeit with the suggestion of design changes. The proposed building has a faux-historic style, with a simple facade of limestone and brick that takes notes from other buildings on the block. A previously approved townhouse had a much more modern design.
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Mayor de Blasio signs controversial landmarks bill into law

Mayor de Blasio has signed Intro 775-A into law. Intro 775-A provides new decision timelines for the designation of landmarks. The law gives the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) one year to landmark or pass up calendared individual, scenic, or interior landmarks. The commission has two years to decide on historic districts. If action isn't taken on an item, the law stipulates that it must be de-calendared. When the law takes effect, any item on the LPC's calendar has to be voted on within 18 months, or it will be de-calendared. A one-year extension may be granted with permission from the property owner. Intro 775-A is a response to the 95-item backlog on the LPC's calendar. LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan explained at a September 2015 public hearing that the commission will streamline its process if the bill became law, but that they would strongly prefer to establish procedure internally. Critics of the commission pointed out that some items had languished on the calendar for years, sometimes decades. In response, the LPC is in the process of voting on older calendar items. In the days leading up to the City Council vote in early June, preservation groups, including the Historic Districts Council (HDC), Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, MAS, Landmark West!, and Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, came out forcefully against the bill. The timeline, opponents say, could limit the designation of challenging items or items with difficult histories. The LPC prepares a dossier on each item, and some items, like historic districts, can contain hundreds of individual structures. It can take many months to negotiate a district's boundaries, and time to do quality research. The new law, critics say, puts negative pressure on these activities. “In many instances these designations required time for the Landmarks Commission to reach out to the widest possible community and perform the in-depth research necessary to properly regulate the area,” the HDC said in a statement. “In other cases, external schedules such as municipal elections and changes in city administration affected the agency’s ability to expeditiously consider designations. Landmark designation is a permanent change in legal status and there are many examples where allowing the agency extra time to complete its process (if necessary) makes sense in helping to ensure equitable and transparent decision-making.” Then there's the money question.  A landmark can be expensive to maintain: Owners who privilege cost considerations over cultural patrimony could refuse to have their item re-calendared, and the item could lose out on landmark designation. Sometimes the commission works with the owner to secure maintenance funds, but deadline pressure could eliminate this crucial assistance. Except for the paid chair, LPC commissioners are volunteers who meet weekly. The law asks commissioners to do more work in less time with no additional resources. Today, HDC released a somewhat glum statement announcing the new law and thanking members for their efforts in opposing it:
HDC wishes to thank the preservation community for its vigilance in opposing this legislation, and for reaching out to your City Council representatives. It is important to remember that it is only through the efforts of the hundreds of individuals and organizations who raised their voices that the worst part of this bill, the 5-year moratorium on designation (included in the original Intro. 775 bill in 2015), was removed when this bill resurfaced.
 
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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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75 Rockefeller Plaza to get dose of green courtesy KPF

With the Landmarks Preservation Commission's (LPC) blessing, a building near Rockefeller Center is set to get green. On Tuesday, the LPC approved a verdant rooftop terrace addition to 75 Rockefeller Plaza, an early modernist building designed by Robert Carson and Earl Lundin in 1941 that sits on the north end of the plaza, between West 51st and West 52nd streets. Completed six years later, the 424-foot, 33-story building was originally part of Rockefeller Center, and was declared an individual landmark in 1985 when Rockefeller Center received its designation. New York–based Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF) and preservation consultants Higgins Quasebarth & Partners are revamping an extension on the tenth floor. The move gives the building more interior space as well as outdoor areas on the ninth floor roof. The proposal also includes an extension of the 11th floor that would create a terrace on the floor above. The designs reflect the commission's goal of keeping the terrace and garden from marring the historic viewshed. In the proposal, the architects emphasized the discreet qualities of their design from street level: The only new addition to the visible landscape is a new, laminated glass guardrail that encircles the terraces' perimeters. The commission approved this plan and Herzog & de Meuron's Upper East Side megamansion for a Russian billionaire with an entrancing backyard in the same session. Although 75 Rockefeller Plaza is a private office building, workers in nearby towers will be able to get a dose of greenery-by-proxy from their cubicle windows.
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LPC approves Herzog & de Meuron’s revamped UES megahome for Russian billionaire

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved Herzog & de Meuron's plans to remake two Queen Anne–style townhomes and one neo-Federal-style home on the Upper East Side into a megahome for a Russian billionaire. The homes, on East 75th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, were originally designed by William E. Mowbray and built in 1887-89. One of the houses was redesigned in the Federal style in the early 1920s. For this renovation, New York–based Stephen Wang & Associates is the architect of record. The structures fall within the Upper East Side Historic District, and now belong to Roman Abramovich (estimated net worth: $8.1 billion), a sobering reminder that New York real estate is officially off-market for mere thousandaires. In April, the LPC had a mixed response to the architects' plans. Many members were unhappy with plans to convert neo-Federal rowhouse (number 11) into a Queen Anne–style home to match its neighbors, as the historic district recognizes both styles as historically significant. Today, the modified design responded to the LPC's feedback: The neo-Federal rowhouse keeps the style of its current facade (now boarded up thanks to uncompleted renovations by a previous owner), with minor alterations.     The whole suite of plans call for the replacement of the front facade of 11 East 75th Street, an excavation of the yards and cellar, the creation of totally new glass-fronted facade on the back of all three homes, a new rambling verdant wall, rooftop additions, and the removal of party walls. Herzog & de Meuron associate Olga Bolshanina noted that the structures themselves have been altered many times over the years, but that the firm's design "keeps the buildings looking like three separate buildings." A wrought-iron fence unifies the sunken front yards, and a gossamery metal main door at number 13 provided a touch that one LPC member described affectionately as "creative, in a discreet, limited way." The rear facade of the three buildings will be replaced by a wall of glass and bronze. Partner Wim Walschap described the updated design as "more or less the same, with a better relation between the garden and facade." Additions, like the large boulders flanking the pool, reference nearby Central Park. Commissioner Michael Goldblum offered kudos: "[the rear yard] is kinda cute, with the rock." The commission praised the revised designs almost uniformly. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called Herzog & de Meuron's design "incredibly responsive to what the commission was looking for. The approach is pro-preservation and restorative. The project has done what we were seeking."