Posts tagged with "LPC":

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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?

This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect's Newspaper's coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.

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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.
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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).