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."
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One downtown preservation group claims that New York has reached the "end of the landmarks approval process" with one crucial decision this week. At Tuesday's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the commission voted 8–2 to approve a building plan on Gansevoort Street between Greenwich and Washington streets. Some neighborhood activists, though, are not happy about the plan. In a 94-page document submitted to the LPC in advance of Tuesday's public meeting, the developers, William Gottlieb Real Estate and Aurora Capital, presented designs prepared by New York–based BKSK to modify 60-68 Gansevoort and 70-74 Gansevoort, two market buildings that date from the late 19th century (but have been modified substantially over time) and are some of the last vestiges of this type of commercial architecture in New York. The buildings fall within the Gansevoort Market Historic District, which was established in 2003. Plans call for the restoration and preservation of buildings at 46-48 and 52-58 Gansevoort Street, as well as restoring the existing facade and expanding the second floor at 50 Gansevoort. Three stories will be added to an existing two at 60-68, and 70-74 Gansevoort will host four-story (62 feet) and six story (around 83 feet) buildings, respectively. 70-74 is a "loft-style" building that, the architect's plans suggest, conform to the typology of surrounding lofts and warehouses, but not 46-48 and 50-58. These plans were modified per suggestions from the LPC in February 2016, although the developers disregarded suggestions to lower the height of 60-68 and 70-74 to conform fully with their more diminutive neighbors. The advocacy organization Save Gansevoort believes that the LPC's green light spites the historic district, whose historic value rests on the row of intact market buildings. In a statement, Save Gansevoort noted that the group is “deeply disappointed in the Landmark Preservation Commission's decision today to accept this massive building plan, disregarding the Gansevoort Market Historic District's designation report and more than 75 years of history. The Commission's ruling will not only destroy the last intact block of one-and two-story, market-style structures in Manhattan, but it is also the latest sign that unrestricted development is killing the unique character of so many of our city's most beautiful neighborhoods. In this day and age, it is disconcerting that even our landmarked areas are no longer protected." The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) decried the lack of opportunity for public testimony at Tuesday's meeting in an email to supporters. In a letter to LPC commissioner Meenakshi Srinivasan submitted in advance of the hearing, Andrew Berman, executive director of GVSHP, noted that the row of buildings, even with alterations in 1916, were 50 to 55 feet in height, including cornices. Although the developers backed away from new construction that included a 120-foot-tall building at 70-74, the group claims that plans for 70-74, and approved plans for a 62-foot-tall 60-68 Gansevoort Street, don't mesh with historic neighboring buildings, whose heights averaged 56.5 feet. 70-74 is modeled on a "warehouse," not "loft," with an attendant height difference: 70-74 will be taller than any loft in the neighborhood and 25 to 40 feet taller than the average building in the historic district, said GVSHP. Overall, preservationists believe this week has not been kind to the historic built environment. The day after the Gansevoort decision, the city council adopted Intro 775A, 38–10. The controversial bill was designed to expedite the LPC's landmarks approval process by imposing deadlines on consideration of items. If a property is not voted on within one year (or a district in two), it is removed from consideration. While the law provides more flexibility within one and two-year deadlines for designation, and a possible one-year extension for individual landmarks under consideration, it removes the 5-year moratorium on landmarks and districts that were nominated but not voted on by the LPC. Among other concerns, groups like GVSHP fear that Intro 775A will encourage developers to try to "run out the clock" so properties are not landmarked. In an email to supporters, the Historic Districts Council called Intro 775A "unnecessary," noting that "[no] one likes a backlog but internal LPC rules would have been the preferred route towards a more accountable designation process." There are potential loopholes, however. The LPC thinks it can de-calendar and de-calendar an item before the deadline hits, ad infinitum, to avoid the moratorium and give items more time for consideration.
A five-story, 20,000-square-foot mansion designed by Maya Lin and others would rise on a prominent corner in Tribeca, if New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approves the project. Lin, the founder of Maya Lin Studio, and collaborator William Bialosky of Bialosky + Partners Architects, are expected to meet with the preservation commission this month as part of their application for construction approval. The mansion would rise at 11 Hubert Street, at Collister Street, in Tribeca. The property is currently occupied by a three story building that dates from the 1980s, with commercial space at ground level and apartments above. A six story warehouse occupied the site before World War II. According to materials presented to the preservation commission and community representatives, Lin and Bialosky propose to add two stories to the existing building and fill in a void above the first level on the Hubert Street side. The resulting residence would rise about 70 feet, matching the height of the adjacent building on Hubert. The exterior would be clad in brick, stone, coated stainless steel, perforated metal, and both clear and fritted glass. The design has been likened to a building within a building, in that it has the scale of the warehouse building that was on the site but its window proportions recall residential buildings of a smaller scale. According to the design team’s submittal, “the articulation of windows with metal frames creates a layering and detailing that refers back to masonry and cast iron buildings” in the area, and the scale “preserves the proportional relationships with the neighboring historic buildings.” The designers also note that “there is precedent for contemporary buildings in historic districts” and show examples of midblock and corner buildings in SoHo, the West Village, Tribeca, and the Upper East Side. They also show an example of a corner building with a glass façade in a historic district. According to the Tribeca Trib Online, the mansion’s estimated cost is $15 million to $16 million and plans call for five bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a dog room, separate prep and catering kitchens, a wine closet, two bars, a screening room, his and her studies, a landscaped courtyard, a 5,000 square foot sports and fitness center in the basement, a garage, and a rooftop garden with solar panels. The building’s client has not been identified. Also according to the Tribeca Trib, the design received approval in May from the Tribeca Committee of Community Board 1, which is advisory to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The LPC meeting is scheduled for June 21.
Today new details were announced on the fate of iconic The Four Seasons Restaurant's interior, including the auction house and certain pieces that will be sold. The Four Seasons was opened in 1959 and is located within the Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson-designed Seagram Building. Mies and Johnson also designed the restaurant's interior, which was designated an interior landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. While the restaurant has been a staple of New York City's high-end social scene, the building's owner—Aby Rosen and his company, RFR Holding—last summer announced they would not renew The Four Season's lease. The restaurant, which is separately owned by Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder, will close at its current location on July 16 and move to a location nearby. While it's been known that Niccolini and von Bidder would sell off the restaurant's original furniture and decor, it was announced today that the auction house Wright would be conducting the auction on July 26. "The auction will be live on-site, and open to the public," said a public relations agency representing Wright. "From July 20-26, there will be a public preview at The Four Seasons Restaurant." The furniture includes designs by Mies and, according to the New York Times, "Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable...designed the table settings and some of the furniture" as well. The press representative informed us the sale will include:
- The Grill Room’s banquettes
- All furniture including the original suite of Barcelona seating from the travertine lobby
- Custom Tulip tables with polished bronze tops
- Groups of custom Brno chairs
- Objects such as custom wine coolers, planters, serving carts, and bespoke pots and pans
In latest push to clear backlog, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designates nine new landmarks
Tasked with clearing its 95-item backlog, New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is moving swiftly to shape the future of historic structures in the Big Apple by clearing its docket. On Tuesday, the LPC voted to designate nine items—eight individual structures and one historic district—as New York City Landmarks.
Perhaps the most recognizable item on the list was the Pepsi Cola Sign, which has graced the shores of Long Island City, Queens, since 1936. The sign is not a typical landmark. It's an ad for a beverage conglomerate, albeit a charming, retro ad. A debate arose around the nuances of the designation at a meeting in February to present evidence in favor of preservation. Supporters' eyes ping-ponged anxiously as LPC members brought up possible obstacles objections: Would designation cover the metal scaffolding that the bottle and logo are attached to, or would designation encompass just the signs' iconic appendages, leaving a loophole to alter the sign's arrangement?
The LPC decided to landmark the Pepsi sign, noting in its recommendation that the sign was preserved once before, as the factory it flanked was sold in 1999. The LPC's decision recognizes the city's manufacturing heritage, and preserves the spirit of place that's otherwise the face of bland waterfront luxury condo development. The grassroots Historic Districts Council (HDC) recommends that the LPC "investigate additional preservation protections, such as an easement or some other form of legal contract to help ensure this landmark’s continued presence."
In all, there were ten items recommended for designation, including two whose eclecticism and allure rival the Pepsi sign (the commission delayed a vote on Immaculate Conception Church in the South Bronx.). One residence is a Gravesend landmark: The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House, a stone, 18th-century Dutch-American-style farmhouse, is a rare survivor from Brooklyn's agrarian past. Local lore holds that the house belonged to Lady Deborah Moody, one of the area's first European women landowners.
New Yorkers thrilled by the Neoclassical flourishes of the Fifth Avenue facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be delighted by the LPC's recognition of the Vanderbilt Mausoleum, a diminutive-by-comparison and little-known work by the same architect. École des Beaux Arts–trained Richard Morris Hunt designed the Romanesque Revival final resting place for the titans of industry, located in Staten Island's Frederick Law Olmsted–designed Moravian Cemetery. The Vanderbilts were so impressed by the meeting of minds that they hired Hunt and Olmstead to collaborate on the clan's low-key country house in North Carolina.
With that memento mori, the LPC voted to designate a few 19th-century structures within Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. Although the entire cemetery, a National Historic Landmark, was up for local designation, even ardent preservationists advocated against the designation, noting that landmark status could place onerous restrictions on the 478-acre cemetery's operations: The plots, headstones, and mausoleums are owned by individuals, with 1,200 new "permanent residents" added annually, potentially complicating the regulation process.
The largest rural cemetery in the U.S., Green-Wood was designed by David Bates Douglass under the guiding landscape principles of Andrew Jackson Downing. The Gothic Revival entrance on Fifth Avenue, designed by Richard Upjohn and home to a vigorous parakeet colony, was declared an Individual Landmark in 1966. A chapel in the same style by Warren & Wetmore (the same firm behind Grand Central Terminal) received designation this time around, as did the Gatehouse and Gatehouse Cottage at the Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance.
The Coney Island boardwalk, arguably the best place in New York for people-watching and watching people consume copious amounts of fried seafood, is about to get a new spiffy venue: the long-anticipated, 5,000-seat Coney Island Amphitheater on the Boardwalk is set to open this July. Although plans have been in the works to open the venue for a few years, this is the first official announcement of a set opening date. The Amphitheater will host sports, concerts, and film screenings under its potato-chip-like awning. Plans call to adaptively integrate the Childs Building, long vacant, into the building's program. With the Landmarks Preservation Commission's blessing in 2013, the 1923 building is set to be fitted with 50-foot-tall doors that will let breezes flow inside during the summer, but that can also be shuttered during the winter months for year-round use (the building used to host Lola Star's roller disco before that event moved to the Lefrak Center at Prospect Park). Anticipating the popularity of summertime events, overflow crows from the amphitheater and the Childs Building can be accommodated in a 40,000-square-foot outdoor space, next to the boardwalk. The developer is New York–based iStar Financial. https://www.instagram.com/p/TvUQVXItCL/?tagged=childsbuilding"The opening of the new amphitheater further enriches Coney Island’s long history of offering the City of New York, and especially the borough of Brooklyn, unique entertainment in a seaside environment,” said Dick Zigun, founder of the sideshow and CEO of Coney Island USA. “We are looking forward to making the traditional Coney Island events, such as the Mermaid Parade, even bigger and better with the addition of Brooklyn's newest destination attraction.”
Staten Island's abandoned New York City Farm Colony is being redeveloped into Landmark Colony, a $91 million residential community for seniors 55 and older. The architect is Staten Island–based Vengoechea + Boyland Architecture/Urban Planning. The Farm Colony was founded in 1829 as a government-run poorhouse for indigent New Yorkers. Enrollment declined with the introduction of government-run antipoverty programs like Social Security in the 1930s and the Great Society programs of the 1960s. The colony closed for good in 1975. Vacant since then, the Dutch revival–style buildings have decayed and now provide canvases for graffiti artists. In 1982, some of the land was annexed to the NYC Parks Department and added to the Staten Island Greenbelt, which runs adjacent to the property. The site, along with neighboring Seaview Hospital, was designated a New York City historic district in 1985.
With last week's City Council approval, Landmark Colony's opening is set for 2018. Plans call for constructing 344 units, a mix of medium-rise condos and low-rise townhouses, on the 43-acre site, the Staten Island Advance reported.
The complex will include 18,500 square feet of retail, a community center with an outdoor swimming pool, and 17.6 acres of green space. The colony's pond will be refurbished, and a hill with seating will surround a stage for concerts and events. 90 percent of the existing roads will be converted into bike and pedestrian trails.
Some of the ruins will be left standing, and, per the Landmark Preservation Commission approval process, new buildings must be compatible with the architectural heritage of the Farm Colony. Former dormitories will be converted into loft-style condos, while the design of the townhouses will reference the shop building on-site.
With construction expected to take less than two years, urban explorers have a only a few months left to explore the Farm Colony's ghostly ruins.
Kevin Roche's late modern interiors at the United Nations Plaza Ambassador Grill & Lounge, and Hotel Lobby are in jeopardy. Millennium Hotels and Resorts, the owners 0f ONE UN New York Hotel (the space's current name) have closed both spaces for possible demolition. Docomomo US, the leading modern architecture preservation group, has filed a Request for Evaluation (RFE) with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to grant the UN Plaza Ambassador Grill and Lounge and Hotel Lobby New York City Interior Landmark status. The interiors, states Docomomo, are strong examples of New York City late modernism. Roche designed the space with his partner John Dinkeloo (as Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates) for the United Nation Development Corporation. The UN Plaza Hotel and Office Building was completed in 1975 and Two UN Plaza was completed in 1983. Sherman McCoy would feel at home beneath the octagonal glass atriums, walls of mirrors, inset light fixtures, sharp geometric motifs, a sumptuous color palette, and a trompe l’oeil faux-skylight contribute to the luxe design. Millennium Hotels and Resorts has begun exploratory work—without permits—on the project, removing sections of the metal paneled drop ceiling that reveal the sprinkler system. Haphazard work, Docomomo claims, could irreparably damage the interior. Docomomo is asking its network of preservationists and others concerned about Roche's interior to write to the LPC to request an emergency hearing.
Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition gets $1.5 million state grant to build Richard Joon Yoo– and Uri Wegman–designed memorial
This year marks the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the most lethal industrial disasters in the United States. To the shock and delight of labor activists and descendants of workers who died in the fire, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that the state would provide a $1.5 million grant to Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition (RTFC) to build a memorial at 29 Washington Place, the site of the former factory. The grant, culled from state economic development funds, will cover the full cost of construction, the New York Times reports. The building that housed the factory still stands. Now owned by New York University (NYU), it houses some of NYU's biology and chemistry labs. Due to its significant place in labor history and the women's rights movement, the structure is a New York City and a National Historic Landmark. In 2013, New York-based architects Richard Joon Yoo and Uri Wegman won the memorial design competition sponsored by RTFC. Yoo has his own firm, Half & Half Architecture, while Wegman practices at Matthew Baird. Their design,“Reframing the Sky,” is sensitive to the historic architecture while bringing visibility to labor issues, past and present. The names of 146 victims will be inscribed on steel panels 13 feet above the sidewalk. At about knee height, a mirrored steel panel will reflect the etched names above before shooting up the side of the building to the eighth floor, where the fire originated. The lower panel will also feature a description of the blaze and its aftermath. The insufficient fire safety and emergency exit measures the disaster exposed strengthened the organizing of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) and prompted building code and fire prevention reforms nationwide. Mary Anne Trasciatti, president of RTFC, stated that the organization will raise an additional $1 million to maintain the memorial. The money will also fund scholarships for the children of present-day garment workers and students pursuing labor history.
In any other circumstance, razing a beloved historic building elicits outrage from preservationists. This time, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) worked the homonym, approving plans to raise the Palace Theater, at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 47th Street, by 29 feet. New York's PBDW Architects and historic preservation consultants Higgins Quasebarth & Partners will lead the theater-raising and subsequent renovation. The lift will allow for 10,000 square feet of retail space on four levels, a new entrance on 47th Street with a 75-foot marquee, back-of-the-house space, a lobby 25-times the size of the current one, plus new bathrooms, the Wall Street Journal reports. Indianapolis-based Maefield Development is financing the move and renovation. When complete, theatergoers will enter through an escalator on West 47th Street to access the mezzanine lobby. Completed in 1913, the 1,700-seat Beaux-Arts Palace was one of the largest vaudeville theaters in the city. Originally, the theater was ensconced in an office building on four sides, though that building was demolished in 1988. Currently, the 45-story DoubleTree hotel tower surrounds the structure. The LPC gave landmark status to the theater's interior in 1987. Though raising a theater in the middle of a crowded urban area poses some logistical challenges, the project management team is not worried. The existing truss will be reinforced. One part will be removed, and a full box will be built around the theater. Beams for the new platform will be installed before telescopic jacks are put into place. The jacks they are using have twice the capacity needed for the weight of the structure, just in case. The existing structure will be raised one inch at a time. Though approved, the plan faced opposition from some preservation groups concerned about the message—commerce > art—that the project sends. The nonprofit Historic District Council noted that:
It is not appropriate to move or obstruct access to an interior landmark to make way for private development, a request that seems to be on the rise as we saw last year with the clocktower at 346 Broadway. Approval of this application will be a clear communication of conscience, and indicative that our culture and art is merely secondary to a Times Square corporate chain store.Proponents argue that the move allows both ground floor retail and expanded space for theater. Moreover, the Palace's interface with the street will be enhanced by the move, as the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue is too busy for theatergoers to linger around pre- and post-show. There's no word yet on dates for the move.
The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has unveiled the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, a six story, 218,000 square foot, $325 million expansion, at Columbus Avenue and 79th Street, designed by Jeanne Gang. The principal of New York– and Chicago-based Studio Gang stated that the exuberant organic forms recall “geological canyons, glacial forms," spaces shaped in increments by the forces of nature. Here, form follows function: the aim of the Gilder Center is to build scientific literacy in young people and encourage study in the STEM fields. In addition to creating learning spaces, the structure reconciles the museum's rambling circulation, creating 30 connections to ten AMNH buildings. Its mass dialogues with the existing buildings, maintaing the same height as its neighbors. Inside, cavities in the concrete walls create exhibition galleries, a library, insect hall, classrooms, theaters, and laboratories. The reinforced concrete walls in the Central Exhibition Hall comprise the building's load-bearing apparatus. Exhibition designs are by Ralph Appelbaum Associates (New York). The expansion will be complete by late 2019 or early 2020, although the design has yet to undergo the public approval process. Neighbors have raised concerns about the museum's encroachment onto adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park. AMNH will present its plans to community groups and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. See the gallery below for additional images of the project.
On October 20, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the Howard Hughes Corporation and SHoP Architects' re-visioning of the South Street Seaport's Pier 17—with one crucial change. The developers will comply with the LPC's request to remove a glass pergola shading the rooftop lawn. The 250,000-square-foot, $200 million Pier 17 retail mall and public space is the anchor of the Seaport makeover. Though the LPC approved the design in 2013 (and construction has begun), the LPC review last week was precipitated by the addition of the pergola and the demolition of the adjacent Link Building, two unapproved aspects of the initial development plan. When the pier plan was introduced in August, the LPC raised concerns about the pergola. Neighbors' fears were classic NIMBY: residents worried that covering the lawn would draw bigger crowds to the Seaport's popular concerts and events. Though the LPC can't regulate city vistas, neighbors also voiced concerns that the pergola would block views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Now, residents will enjoy unobstructed—or at least less obstructed—views of the bridge, as well the last coup from the LPC meeting: modified paving on the site's access road. The road is an extension of Fulton Street that will encircle the front of the pier. Instead of asphalt, visitors will tread on precast concrete pavers. Though the Pier 17 deal seems like a relatively utopian public-private compromise, controversy over the overall development looms. Neighbors and preservationists have greeted SHoP's planned, 42 story, 500 tower with vociferous opposition. While the tower is not in a historic district, and thus outside the LPC's purview, the community continues to debate the project. Another major (and potentially contentious) project in the area is the S. Russell Groves–designed, 60 story skyscraper at 151 Maiden Lane, announced in September. The typology of the South Street Seaport reflects its status as one of New York's oldest districts. Like all historic neighborhoods, it must contend with the priorities of a densifying city. It remains to be seen how SHoP's plan, and other nearby redevelopments, impact the district's function and character.