Posts tagged with "LPC":

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Sasaki fountain at Citicorp Center may be demolished

One of Hideo Sasaki's few remaining works in New York is set to be demolished as the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved changes to the exterior of 601 Lexington Avenue, formerly known as the Citicorp Center. The building, designed by Hugh A. Stubbins & Associates in 1973, features a stepped public plaza by Sasaki Associates. As it dips into 601 Lexington Avenue, the plaza, built in exchange for a taller tower, reveals a fountain and entrances to the subway. Amid a dense urban setting, many consider the cascading design a welcome sight. Its corner location encourages passers-by to look up in tandem with steps towards the building's open vertices made possible by Stubbins's unusual column arrangement. Dubbed “super” columns, the four skyscraper supports rise above 100 feet and cover 24 square feet each. The resultant cantilevers articulate space in a way not commonly found in Manhattan and in the space, one is seldom aware of being situated below the 915-foot-tall structure, once described by critic Ada Louise Huxtable as a “singularly suave blockbuster that comes down to the street with innovative drama." This feature has prevailed for almost 40 years and subsequently, the sunken space works in an established harmony with the skyscraper. At the time of Stubbins’s death in 2006, critic Paul Goldberger called the Citicorp Center “probably the most important skyscraper built in New York in the 1970s because of its elegant and memorable shape, but also because of its engagement with the city at the base.” Tuesday's review included building entrances along 52nd and 53rd streets, as well as skylights and rooftop mechanical equipment. The Sasaki plaza, designed by principal emeritus Stuart Dawson, was included in the landmark designation, but DOB permits to alter the plaza were approved prior to the designation, and so the plaza changes were not under review by the LPC. In a March 23 email, a LPC spokesperson clarified that the permits are unrelated to the designation report's statement of regulatory intent (page 14) that states that the City Planning Commission is responsible for approving all changes to the plaza. The plaza design depicted in Gensler's renderings was not being considered at the hearing that day, a situation infuriated some preservationists who came out to speak the meeting. The renderings Gensler presented depicted the plaza without the fountain that was initially intended, in the words of the architect, to "mask much of the street noise and add to the feeling that the passerby is free from the congestion of the street." In a statement to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) Dawson commented on the situation:
I was and am incredibly proud of the work we did on the sidewalks, plaza, cascading fountain, and interior atrium of the Citicorp Center. The response from the public was immediate and strong: they loved it. As the fate of this work is up in the air I cannot help but to return to the original idea that carried through all aspects of the project: the idea of connection. At the time, we asked why not carry the fountain and broad steps all the way from street level; to chapel and atrium entrance level; to the subway level? While it required difficult permitting and multiple bureaucratic maneuvers, it seemed well worth the effort—and it was. It was a first! And today, as I learn that the plaza we designed is in danger of demolition I ask that we consider connection once more. I would like to see the plaza live on, connecting one era of design into the next. Once again, it may take some persistent maneuvering but I believe it will once more be worth it.

Christabel Gough of the advocacy group Society for the Architecture of the City told AN that the Sasaki project has "fallen between the cracks of arcane inter-agency procedures and is not protected. Boston Properties would earn the gratitude of so many New Yorkers by abandoning the demolition plan revealed today." 

According to the LPC, the changes put forward by Gensler and Boston Properties were approved by the City Planning Commission prior to 601 Lexington Avenue’s designation as a landmark in December 2016 and that permits to alter the plaza had already been filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB). Despite an extensive search, at press time AN was unable to locate the permits on the DOB's website.

At the hearing, preservationists and commissioners raised questions about the missing foundation. "The HDC wishes to express its regret at reports that the water feature may be removed from the space, which seems like an unfortunate loss," said Barbara Zay, of advocacy group the Historic Districts Council. "We would suggest that the LPC retain a seat at the table in discussions for the fate of courtyard by working closely with the owner, and perhaps the MTA, to find an alternative or return this decorative feature which provides an element of civility and whimsy to the space.” Echoing Zay, Commissioner Michael Goldblum expressed regret about the turn of events. "It’s a shame that the plaza will be changed and the fountain lost," he said, adding that the fountain was a "key element of how the public experience this complex." Fellow commissioner John Gustafsson clarified that no decision on the plaza could be made. "We’re not expressing an opinion here because we can’t," he said. The only changes on the agenda then, were to that of the facade, particularly on 53rd Street. Here, a recessed entrance would be eradicated, but the LPC voiced weariness ahead of this decision.

AN asked representatives from Gensler and Boston Properties at the hearing about why they are eliminating the plaza. Both declined to comment.

In her closing statement, chair Meenakshi Srinivasan noted that "the Citicorp Building has a long history of changes... We recognized that these spaces will continue to change." She concluded that the proposed modifications were consistent with the building's history, and retained the spirit of the original design intent, particularly with the building's zoning history in mind. Prior to granting its approval, the LPC suggested that the proposed changes to the recessed entranceway be reconsidered. But questions remain as to why a plaza so integral to the landmark is beyond the LPC's oversight in the first place. AN will keep readers updated on this story as it develops. Update 3/22/17: This article originally stated that Sasaki's plaza was not included in the building's December 2016 landmark designation. It was in fact included in the designation. The post was also updated to include clarifying information about the plaza's jurisdiction and additional background on the statement of regulatory intent. The text was updated to reflect that Sasaki Associates principal emeritus Stuart Dawson designed the fountain.
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New York's angled icon, the Citicorp Center, in line for a 200,000 square foot renovation

601 Lexington Avenue, widely known by its former title as the Citicorp Center, may be the subject of a revamp totaling 200,000 square feet, courtesy the New York office of global architecture firm Gensler. The recently landmarked building (designated in December) could see a new exterior plaza and array of terraces added if the design is approved by the Landmarks Preservation Committee (LPC) next week. Further changes include an atrium located inside (and thus exempt from LPC endorsement) that will house a coterie of retail outlets and dining facilities. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper, a spokesperson for Gensler clarified that the plaza is indeed "being redesigned" as renderings suggest. 601 Lexington Avenue was designed by Hugh A. Stubbins & Associates in 1977 and completed the following year. The resultant angular apex created a silhouette that has become an icon of the Manhattan skyline and was a feature that led the building's landmark designation last year. It's at the other end of the building, at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street, however, where the changes will be made. Critic Paul Goldberger was complimentary of the existing ground-level features at the time of Stubbins's death in 2006: “[It is] probably the most important skyscraper built in New York in the 1970s because of its elegant and memorable shape, but also because of its engagement with the city at the base," he said. According to Gensler, the building's owners, Boston Properties is "focused not on increasing rents, but on increasing the value of the entire neighborhood by making a distinctive plaza and atrium space." The firm continued: "To this end, the new outdoor plaza and terraces make room for more dining and retail options, while enlivening the staid office component. The resulting 200,000-square-foot redevelopment transforms an internally focused space into a bustling urban oasis for Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood." 601 Lexington (c) Gensler_4 Changes date back to as recently as 2010 when a new office lobby was installed. Twenty years ago, the existing atrium and open-air concourse were renovated. The LPC hearing for the changes will be on Tuesday, March 21.
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Waldorf Astoria interiors designated as historic landmarks by LPC

Following an initial hearing in January, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously on March 7th to designate several of the interior spaces of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel as historic landmarks. The move was widely expected and has not stymied the owner’s ambitious plan to renovate the building, a plan which includes converting a majority of the existing 1,413 rooms into condominium apartments. The Anbang Insurance Group released a statement in response to the decision:
Anbang knows the Waldorf Astoria's history is a large part of what makes this hotel so unforgettable. That is why we fully supported the commission's recommendations for designation of the Waldorf Astoria's most important public spaces and applaud the commission on achieving landmark status for them.
LPC’s designation protects many of the public spaces throughout the first three floors of the iconic art deco building, including the Park Avenue Lobby, entry hall on the ground level, and the Grand Ballroom on the third level, one of the largest event spaces in the New York City. The designation currently awaits approval by the city council.
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David Chipperfield-designed West Village condo finally gets Landmarks approval

It seems the third time's the charm for David Chipperfield. After twice declining to approve his firm's proposal for a West Village condo, pictured above, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has okayed the design, which has changed only slightly since its last hearing. The proposed structure, at 11-19 Jane Street, sits on a largely residential side street in the Greenwich Village Historic District. Chipperfield's work would replace a two-story parking structure with a six-story condominium building. The firm's first proposal, a white precast concrete building, was rejected by LPC in July of last year. A January proposal did not fare any better and was turned down mostly on the basis of its out-of-character entrances and sliding windows. The new design features casement windows divided by red brick mullions topped by stone lintels that echo the neighbors. A more subtle penthouse roofline responded to commissioners' concerns around the building's height. In a post-decision statement, preservation advocacy group the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) remained deeply unimpressed with Chipperfield's most recent round of revisions, suggesting the condo would look better beside a highway off-ramp:
It is deeply disappointing that the Landmarks Preservation Commission chose to approve a design which is so patently inappropriate for the Greenwich Village Historic District and for Jane Street. The design is barely changed from the one roundly criticized by the public and rejected in January. It still looks like a chain motel, it’s still too large, and it still sticks out like a sore thumb.  The changes made by the architect since January are the proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.  This design might look at home next to the off-ramp of I-95, but it does not make sense on this historic side street. We hoped for better from this architect, and from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Though the project received unanimous approval, the commission urged the architects to continue to refine the design, especially the windows at street level.
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The Waldorf Astoria's iconic interior inches towards landmark status

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) held a public hearing this morning to discuss the status of the much-loved interior of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue. At the meeting, cases for landmarking much of the 1930s art deco interior were made with many speaking passionately about their significance. The hearing comes after owners of the hotel, the Anbang Insurance Group from Beijing, China, announced plans to renovate the building last year. Plans call for gutting 560 hotel rooms and converting them to 321 luxury condos. However, upon hearing the news of the owner's plans—work is due to start this fall—the LPC voted unanimously in November to calendar the hotel's interior spaces for consideration. "All of [the interior] spaces are of exceptional design and character. We strongly believe that the protection, designation, and restoration of these important art deco interiors is a critical part of preserving New York City's rich history of architectural design and style—especially the city's art deco monuments," said Roberta Nusim, president of the Art Deco Society of New York (ADSNY). "The interior design of the Waldorf Astoria exemplifies a period of New York life that was extraordinarily important to the growth of the city's image," she continued. "The Waldorf Astoria's interiors hold significance as being one of the finest surviving examples of art deco, classic modernist design." Nusim also added that the ADSNY had received more than 700 signatures from across the globe (a testament to the hotel's international status) calling for the interior's designation. Local officials, including City Councilperson Dan Garodnick, have also expressed their support of the motion. Under review for designation were the Park Avenue foyer and colonnade, the West Lounge (“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. Most of the spaces are publicly accessible, too. Landmarking them will ensure the renowned hotel maintains its standing as an architectural must-see for tourists and locals alike. A decision is due to be made, though a date for this is yet to be decided. Meanwhile, the interior rework should be finished by 2020. Last year, the company issued a statement declaring their support for the LPC's decision:
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.
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David Chipperfield's West Village condo totally misses the mark, says LPC

This week David Chipperfield went back to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for a second time, hoping to get approval for his heavily revised design for a West Village condo.

The architects first went before the LPC in July with a white precast concrete residence at 11 Jane Street. This time they were hoping to get the commission’s blessings—but no such luck.

The new design swaps concrete for red brick, and knocks ten feet off the total height to better align with the block's townhouses. The residence, presented in collaboration with Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, would replace a one-story parking garage.

In an email to supporters last week, preservation advocacy group the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) said the design is not appropriate for the street or in keeping with the overall ethos of the Greenwich Village Historic District.

"[Unfortunately] the new design is not much better than the old one (and may even be worse in some respects)," the email said. "While the new design is slightly shorter and uses a more appropriate brick material, instead of looking like a corporate office building it now looks like a corporate chain motel."

The commission mostly agreed. Though it said the current design "plays better with the neighbors,” commissioners took issue with the sliding windows and door, especially the narrower vertical glass doors to a row of second-floor terraces. To many that spoke, the entrances that flank the sides of the building, closed off from the sidewalk by a low metal gate, lacked the egress signifier that a stoop, for example, would provide.

“I just don’t think this very capable architect has reached the mark," said Commissioner Michael Devonshire. “Articulation in the district is extremely rich and this building lacks it."

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan echoed Devonshire and added that the LPC must “work within the concept and not send it in another direction."

The LPC took no action and will review a revised design at a later date. Third time’s the charm, right?

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Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grill is now a NYC landmark

Update 1/17/17: This post initially stated that the LPC excluded a colonnaded hallway and seating area near the lobby from the designation. The LPC included the colonnaded hallway, but excluded the seating area and the elevator hallway that connects the lobby and the Ambassador Grill. The post was updated with additional reporting to support these changes.

Today the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to landmark Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associates' Ambassador Grill and Lounge and Hotel Lobby at the United Nations Hotel.

The vote came after preservationists mobilized to seek protection for the interiors: A sequence of lush and mirrored spaces that today evoke the glamour of the disco era. New owners Millennium Hotels and Resorts, who bought the space five years ago and renamed it One UN New York, were set to convert the rooms to a more contemporary style. The Ambassador Grill and Lounge and Hotel Lobby opened in 1976 and 1983, respectively.

In light of development pressure, the LPC moved swiftly to calendar the item in September, and the commission heard (all positive) public testimony from the likes of Docomomo, Robert A.M. Stern, Alexandra Lange, and others, in November.

To the regret of many preservationists, the LPC decided not to include a seating area adjacent to the lobby's colonnaded hallway and the elevator hallway that connects the two landmarked rooms.

"I'm happy the LPC called out the columned hallway, perhaps limiting the alteration of the lounge, but it's disappointing the [non-designated] areas didn't come up in the commissioner's deliberations today," said preservation activist Theodore Grunewald. "While we know that virtually no historic preservation battle is ever '100 percent,' and that preservation requires flexibility and must include [necessary] compromises, the exclusion of the seating area is still troubling."

At today's vote, which took all of 15 minutes, LPC researcher Matt Postal called Roche and Dinkeloo’s work “lavish” and "exceptionally well preserved, [some of] the best public spaces of the 1970s and 80s in New York City.”

Like all city landmarks, the rooms have one final hurdle to clear: The City Council will vote in the coming weeks to officially adopt—or in rare cases, refute—the LPC's designation.

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Alvar Aalto's U.N. interiors are in limbo—again

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) added ten new items from its backlog to the official roster of New York City landmarks. While the commission protected Dutch Colonial farmhouses, the Bergdorf Goodman building, and the mega-glamorous Loews movie palace in Washington Heights, it declined to designate a rare and important interior by Alvar Aalto, the Finnish modern architect. The Edgar J. Kaufmann conference rooms, lecture hall, and elevator lobby at 809 U.N. Plaza, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and his second wife, designer Elissa Aalto, demonstrate pure modern ingenuity. A cobalt-tiled lobby leads visitors to a 4,500-square-foot flexible space divided by an ash partition into two conference rooms and a 300-person lecture hall. The 12th-floor space commands sweeping views of the East River, but custom-designed louvers protect the interior, complete with Alvar's custom light fixtures and furniture, from excessive glare. One particular delight of the space is an abstract, curved birchwood sculpture that evokes the forests of Finland. Completed in 1964-65, the interiors are one of only four projects by Alvar in the U.S. and his only surviving work in New York. The item was first discussed at a public hearing in 2001, and again in 2002. The rooms, as former Architect's Newspaper (AN) editor Julie Iovine detailed in a 2000 piece for the New York Times, could be dismantled and preserved elsewhere—or not. Without landmark protection, its owner, the Institute of International Education (IIE), are free to do whatever it likes with the space. LPC communications director Damaris Olivo told AN that legal issues around public access to the space preclude the rooms from designation. Although privately owned, the rooms can be rented for events consistent with the IIE's mission of promoting international discourse around and through education. John Arbuckle, chair of the docomomo New York | Tri-state chapter, said in an email that the organization is "very disappointed" with the LPC's announcement. The local chapter is figuring out how it will to respond to the commission's decision. Including the Kaufmann conference rooms, thirteen items were considered as part of the LPC's Backlog 95, a plan to address almost 100 historic districts and properties that have lingered on the agency's calendar for years, sometimes decades. Although ten properties were landmarked, a decision on a Con Edison–owned powerhouse designed by McKim Mead and White was deferred, while a Bronx church and Aalto's interiors were removed from the calendar entirely.

The Jackie Robinson YMCA Youth Center, a vernacular-style townhouse on East 85th Street, Bergdorf Goodman, the Loew's 175th Street Theater, the Excelsior Steam Power Company Building (Manhattan), Brougham Cottage, the Lakeman-Cortelyou-Taylor House (Staten Island), St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church, and an Italianate building on Broadway (Brooklyn), as well as the Protestant Reform Dutch Church of Flushing (Queens) were all upgraded from backlog properties to landmarks.

AN is following the fate of Aalto's rooms closely; readers should check back soon for updates.

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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.