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A list of HDC’s upcoming events as well as our annual programs, and breaking preservation news.

 

Events:

HDC is always busy, view our Past Events page to see what other evens we’ve held.

Programs:

 

News:

Re:Neighborhood Values: NY Post, July 5, 2014

Demolition freeze may cover 80% of the city: Crains, April 14, 2014

The Historic Districts Council says the city’s historic districts are not to blame for the shortage of affordable housing: Daily News, February 26, 2014

Landlords take aim at rampant landmarking: Crains New York,July 11, 2013

Landmark advocates recall Alamo-like efforts: Chelsea Now, November 3, 2012

New York Landmark Status Misused, Says Group Preservationists say New York’s history under attack:Epoch Times, June 21, 2012

Preservationists Issue Rallying Cry, Prepare to Save Landmarks Law from Big Real Estate: New York Observer, June 14th, 2012

Defending Historic Preservation in New York City

PS 31 - The Castle

The since-demolished P.S. 31, “The Castle of the Grand Concourse”

Historic preservation as both a strategy and as a philosophy is under attack as never before.

Although community advocates have achieved some big successes in recent years by gaining long-sought landmark designations and thwarting (or at least modifying) destructive proposals to historic buildings, the Real Estate Board of New York (“REBNY”), the principal lobbyist for organized real estate, has been relentless in its campaign to undermine the Landmarks Law and all community preservation efforts.

Emboldened by years of record growth, REBNY is accusing preservation efforts of driving up housing costs, endangering affordable housing, stopping job creation and economic growth, protecting worthless buildings and penalizing home and business owners with costly fees and delays. REBNY even pursued a serious lobbying effort to transform and weaken the Landmarks Law through a series of bills which would transform how the Landmarks Preservation Commission designates and regulates historic properties. To hear them tell it, landmark designation transforms New York into a lifeless museum city with a “look but don’t touch” mentality.

The Historic Districts Council (“HDC”) feels that nothing could be further from the truth. Preservation practices empower communities, celebrate our history, drive economic growth and sustain development efforts. Preservation enhances our streetscapes, nurtures tourism, encourages investment and employs local labor. It is a popular, populist movement driven by regular New Yorkers who value their homes and their city.

HDC works with community groups throughout the five boroughs on efforts to save, preserve and enhance the special character of New York’s historic neighborhoods. We work with communities from areas as different as the Upper West Side and Bedford-Stuyvesant on the shared goal of empowering the community to have a voice in determining their own future. These two communities are ones whose efforts we honored at the Grassroots Preservation Awards and whose successes have been targeted as “over-reaching” by the real estate lobby.

The threat to preservation laws and historic buildings is still very real. HDC will continue counter arguing REBNY as long as they continue to release studies based on lies  and misconceptions. Through HDC’s mobilization and education we have been able to keep the preservation community strong, but we will never be as loud as REBNY. We need all the support of our neighborhood partners, history lovers, and lovers of New York.

Additional Resources:

Preservation and Job Creation

Press

 

  • Articles and Media Coverage: Preservation and the Battle to Preserve It

 

 

 HDC continues to vigilantly defend New York City’s Landmarks Law and promotes efforts to strengthen protections for historic buildings. This section will be updated regularly with current events regarding this issue.

Landmarks Lion 2016: Honoring Nancy Pearsall and Francis Morrone

Nancy Pearsall and Francis Morrone –Wednesday, November 9 at 6:30 PM at Battery Gardens

Wednesday, November 9 at 6:30 PM

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Purchase Tickets

 

Purchase Program Ads

Six to Celebrate 2017

Posted by on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

Be one of HDC’s 2017 Six to Celebrate ! Applications are now being accepted, they are due Dec. 2nd
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Preserve Your Neighborhood!

Apply at www.6tocelebrate.org by December 2, 2016

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Apply at www.6tocelebrate.org by December 2, 2016


Support is provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by City Council Members Ben Kallos, Rosie Mendez, Mark Levine, Inez Dickens, Vincent Gentile, Corey Johnson, Stephen Levin, Margaret Chin, Dan Garodnick, and Rafael Salamanca and New York State Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried, and Daniel O’Donnell.Funded in part by a grant from the NYC & Company Foundation in partnership with the Office of Manhattan Borough President Gale

Brewer.

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Category: Featured, Six to Celebrate · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on Sept. 20, 2016

Posted by on Monday, September 19, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.

 

Item 1

1093 Lorimer Street – Greenpoint Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #184971

Project architect: Set Architecture

A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by George Gerard and built in 1884. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions.

This row of modest two-story rowhouses are completely intact in footprint, and the houses in each pair were designed to be mirror images of each other. The amount of bulk proposed for this little house negates its modest quality, and the Greenpoint historic district is also a small area, so we believe this bulk will be negatively impactful. The rear yard addition is puzzling, as there is already an existing, three-story “dog leg.” Shifting this mass parallel to the building doesn’t appear to gain much square footage, or air and light for that matter. In short, it seems to be an unnecessary intervention which hinges on trend, not logic. In terms of the rooftop, its visibility is greater given the shortness of these buildings and thus, should be invisible.

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LPC determination: Approved with modifications
The applicant explained that no additional square footage was being added in the rear, but rather reorganizing it to accommodate this family’s needs. Fred Bland mentioned how floor plans from the 1880s aren’t as functional as modern floor plans, and the rear was ok’ed. The rooftop addition will be pushed back so that it is not visible.
Item 4

476 Washington Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #190161

Project architect: NV Design Architecture

An altered wood framed house built prior to 1882. Application is to demolish the existing building and construct a new building.

In 2008, the LPC and DOB commenced a demolition by neglect action against this property, at which time protective shoring was installed to preserve the structural integrity of the building. Eight years later, the building is more deplorable than ever because of continued neglect. Instead of a fair forfeit and proposed reconstruction that would be suitable for the district, the owner has proposed to construct a yuppie magnet on this forlorn lot.
 
The LPC has recently reviewed two proposals in Chelsea and Greenpoint for two extremely altered properties, both of which will restore the buildings to be in character with their respective districts and based on historic documentation. In this case, the documentation has been done, but the applicant has turned the other way. Leaving a property to languish until it is no longer salvageable and then proposing a discordant new and much larger building is unacceptable. Property owners outside of historic districts are free to build as they please but in this case, it is paramount that the LPC does not reward a premeditated demolition and the subsequent marring of our city’s protected historic fabric.

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 LPC determination: No Action
Luckily, neighbors showed up to enlighten the Commission about how this building has been left to rot and continuously flipped over the years by neglectful owners. People also were not thrilled about this lackluster design which offers nothing to the district or the building. One man wanted it saved, and especially liked that the cornice was still attached despite the hell it’s been through. The Commissioners were troubled with the design, too, and in the end, Chair Srinivasan called the proposal “half-baked” and asked the applicant to explore a new design that fits better with the context and has a street wall.

 Item 5

112 Vanderbilt Avenue – Wallabout Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #181535

Project architect: Michael Scaduto

An altered Greek Revival style semi-attached house built c. 1851-52. Application is to construct a rear yard addition.

HDC found the rear extension appropriate in terms of visibility and massing, and we hope the revenue from the new square footage can eventually go towards fixing the facade of this house. While we are aware that the facade is not before us for comments, we nonetheless would like to acknowledge to the Commission that it is a rare prize to own a Greek Revival detached house, and that the applicant consider in the future to ameliorate some of the scars on this facade.

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LPC determination: Approved

Item 7

143 Franklin Street – TriBeCa West Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #181448

Project architect: Jeffrey Cole Architects

A Renaissance Revival style warehouse designed by Henry Anderson and built in 1897-98. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, alter the rear facade and loading dock, and replace windows.

In the case that the Commissioners’ drawing sets differ from what HDC’s committee viewed on Friday, we would like to point out some issues which made this application indecipherable to us. Notably, there are no visibility studies for the rooftop addition; no floor plans; and no explanation for the proposed cut out on the rear facade. The lack of these basic elements from the presentation made us ere on caution, and we ask that LPC require these drawings so that a complete proposal is before Commissioners.

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LPC determination: Approved

 Item 8

165 Mercer Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #190170

A cast iron building designed by Henry Fernbach and built 1870-71.

Application is to remove the fire escape, construct a rooftop addition, and install storefront infill and signage.

Project architect: Flank Architecture

HDC found the rooftop addition appropriate for this district and in terms of visibility. The storefronts also seem to be a safe design–however, only minimal research was conducted. This included only the NYC tax photographs, which are reliably vague for capturing details like storefronts. It’s not that the storefronts that are proposed are inappropriate, but a more compelling case for what was there should be made by finding more evidence.

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LPC determination: Approved
Several decades-long tenants came out to mourn their loss of air and light due to this proposed rooftop addition, and Commissioner’s discussion focused mostly on whether or not to memorialize the existence of this building’s life as a garage in its storefronts. Executive Director Sarah Carroll said that this district’s “period of significance” ends around 1910, and that the garage is much “newer” than that period, thus deflating the topic. The proposal was approved as presented.

 

Item 9

187-193 Lafayette Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Extension Historic District
 
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #191329
 
A Renaissance Revival style warehouse designed by Buchman & Fox and built in 1903-05. Application is to legalize the installation of HVAC equipment without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).
 
Project architect: Eyeball

While certainly not in your purview, the visceral reaction of our Committee to this application was: life safety issue. Based on this, it is clear that this is not a solution to HVAC placement, but rather the textbook definition of a jerry-rigged eyesore. Many a building in NYC has figured out how to place equipment in appropriate places other than the fire escape.

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LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 11

307 West 103rd Street – Riverside – West End Extension II Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #186225

Project architect: Peter Brotherton

A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by George F. Pelham and built in 1895-96. Application is to replace windows, construct a rear yard addition and alter the rear facade.

It is pleasant to see that this application proposes to preserve the building’s original footprint, which is rare on Upper West Side blocks. HDC wonders about the proposed material of EIFS, though, which has a reputation of being easily dented, say, from a stray ball or a kick. Wrapping the rear of this building in essentially styrofoam and its proposed color will create an alien situation on this block, and we ask that some other higher quality insulation be conferred, if possible.

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LPC determination: No Action
Commissioners struggled with the EIFS material and asked that the applicant furnish evidence of its use this extensively within the district. Some great quotes about EIFS from the Commission’s discussion:
“It often failed whenever anyone who got near it. Most people avoid that by not getting near it.” – Fred Bland
“EIFS is frowned upon, the Commission in the past has said that new work should be commensurate with materials in the district, in other words, don’t use crap.” -Michael Goldblum

Item 15

210 East 62nd Street – Treadwell Farm Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #181027

Project architect: Arctangent Architecture & Design

A rowhouse designed by F. S. Barns and built in 1870, and altered in the 20th century. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, replace windows, and alter the facade and areaway.

The Treadwell Farm Historic District was one of the first districts to be designated under the then-new Landmarks Law for their continued uniform existence over a century depsite their proximity to midtown Manhattan’s development. Upon the prospect of designation, a neighbor proclaimed, “We have no fear of what the [Landmarks] Commission may do, as far as restricting us in the future. What we do fear is the possible effect in the future of unrestrained economic forces on the neighborhood which has been a pleasant, attractive, charming residential oasis in this city for approximately 100 years.”

It is with this knowledge and sentiment that we ask the Commission to review this proposal, which while provocative and creative, is not in the spirit of this small historic district. The rears of these houses have been maintained in near uniformity, massing, and height. The proposed application will eliminate the rear wall entirely, and build up higher than its neighbors. Its bulk is also substantial, as it will extend to the maximum zoning allotment and leave only the required 30 feet from the lot line. While the decorative screens could create some opacity in their closed position, all glass rears are not a characteristic of this district, either. It is refreshing to see a departure from the typical rear yard addition design, but this iteration needs a bit more compromise with the existing fabric.

 

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210-e-62-st-proposed

LPC determination: No Action

Many neighbors inside and outside of the historic district came to testify against this. While the Chair mentioned that this proposal “swallowed” the whole house, Commissioner Goldblum was very concerned that this iteration was even before the Commission, stating that heeded staff recommendations would have never allowed this proposal to “make it this far” and that the applicant had wasted the time of both the staff and the Commission. There was a general consensus that this design was not harmonious with the district.

Item 18

605 Park Avenue – Upper East Side Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192420

Project architect: WJE Engineers & Architects

An apartment building designed by Sylvan Bien and built in 1953-54. Application is to establish a Master Plan governing the future installation of replacement windows, balcony enclosures, and through-wall HVAC units.

This application is a conundrum. For one, the corner balconies, which read as notches in this massive building, are significant architectural features, which arguably should be preserved. The reading of this building is completely different on areas where they have already been filled in, and this haphazard state has a detrimental effect on the entire mass of this skyscraper. Further, it is odd that this master plan proposes to move the building in a direction to enclose all of these porches when the DOB has recently created a mandate to prevent exactly this. Regardless of these opposing views, the proposed simplifications of railing and window treatments on balcony areas is unacceptable, and these areas should proceed as previously approved by the LPC.
 

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LPC determination: Approved
Unaware by the Committee when being reviewed, this building is actually a “no style,” giving the green light to the proposal as is.

Item 21

35-16 87th Street – Jackson Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #174843

Project architect: No name on drawings

An Anglo-American Garden Home style house designed by C. F. & D. E. McAvoy and built in 1926. Application is to legalize the installation of windows and replace asphalt shingles, without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

HDC is happy to see that another legalization will be rectified in a Queens historic district, as these alterations happen disproportionately here and uniformity is critical to the experience of the district. While the proposed shingles are appropriate, we ask Commissioners to compare the window treatment to other examples provided in the packet, where the difference in quality is palpable. We ask that better windows be applied at this property to get back on track.

35-16-87th-st-existing
35-16-87th-st-proposed
LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 Item 22

339 West 29th Street – Lamartine Place Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #164417

Project architect: C3D Architecture

A Greek Revival style rowhouse with Renaissance Revival style elements originally built in 1846-47, altered in 1951 by Harry Gerson. Application is to modify rooftop and rear additions constructed prior to designation and to alter the facade.

HDC thanks Friends of LaMartine Place, our elected officials and our partner organizations for their consistent and steadfast support and collaborative work for all of these years to preserve the Hopper-Gibbons house’s legacy. Our collective cause has brought us together once again in what is the latest attempt to legitimize the marring of history.
The persisting presence of the illegal fifth floor addition is an affront to our history, our culture, and the law. From start to finish, this catastrophe has been self-inflicted by the owner and has come at the expense of the community, and all of New York.

Although it may be correct under the broadest interpretation of the law, HDC is appalled by the audacity of this application and urges to the Commissioners to consider deeply the standards by which it should be judged. What the owner has defined as appropriate in the renderings submitted has been defined as illegal by the NYC Department of Buildings and the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division. Even more concerning, another city agency, the DOB, has failed to take action to correct this situation by court order for over a year, resulting in the proposal now before the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Let the record show that if the NYC DOB enforced its own “Order to Correct” and removed this illegal addition, this proposal would be fundamentally different.  As it is, the LPC is being asked to manage the Building Department’s business. It would be sound and sensible policy for the two agencies to coordinate on this matter and insist on the removal of this illegal construction.
 
Putting aside the paramount facts of this addition’s construction, this proposal is breath-takingly inappropriate by the Commission’s own standards. The applicant has stated that the “back story” of this building is “not relevant” to this current application to the LPC. We could not disagree more, because at no. 339, its history, and back story, is everything. This is one of the few sites in New York City that was designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for its cultural significance, as opposed to aesthetics. This row of houses survived the Draft Riots of 1863 which specifically targeted this house because of its undeniable role in the Abolitionist movement. No. 339 West 29TH Street is the only known, extant Underground Railroad stop in Manhattan, and as such, is a physical monument to the greatest human rights movement in American history; the battle for which almost ended us as a nation.

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LPC determination: No Action
After ten years of an illegal rooftop addition at 339 West 29th Street, yesterday the Landmarks Preservation Commission did not approve the rooftop’s proposed legalization. This administration, under Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, has taken an interest in the concept of cultural landmarks and taken steps to protect them, such as the individual landmark designation of the Stonewall Inn in 2015.Although no action was officially taken on the proposal yesterday, LPC’s discussion explored how the Commission might regulate historic districts like LaMartine Place, which implies not relying solely on aesthetics, but rather cultural appropriateness. In this case, this historic district’s cultural prestige derives from its roofline, which served as an escape path during the Draft Riots of 1863 during the Civil War, for which these buildings are designated. To advocates’ delight, the Chair explained that in regulating this cultural landmark, the physicality of its additions cannot be divorced from its cultural significance, and the addition was therefore inappropriate.  Commissioner Goldblum added, “If the cultural manifestation is in the [roof] element, we have a responsibility to protect it.” It was further clarified by LPC Counsel Mark Silberman that it was in Commissioners’ power to demand that the entire 5th floor be taken down. Toward the end of the discussion, all Commissioners reached a consensus that the illegal addition should be removed.

This victory couldn’t have been achieved without the staunch advocacy of the Friends of Hopper-Gibbons/LaMartine Place; our elected officials (notably Assembly Member Dick Gottfried’s office); and you, friends of the Historic Districts Council who took the time to show up at LPC yesterday and have written to the agency over the past months and years. The Historic Districts Council also thanks the Landmarks Preservation Commission for its thoughtful and just determination of this building’s future, where history will finally be restored. As HDC’s Executive Director, Simeon Bankoff said: “The fight to protect this building has been going on longer than the Civil War.”

Since the LPC took a “No Action,” this means this property will return to the LPC at a Public Meeting (date tbd). There are other aspects of the application which need to be fleshed out and were not dealt with yesterday, such as the proposed “restoration” of the facade and rear yard additions. The rooftop, however, was discussed and its recommendation by the Commission to be removed is on the public record.

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC opposition to deed restriction lifting at One Chase Manhattan Plaza

Posted by on Friday, September 16, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

The Historic Districts Council is writing in opposition to the proposed removal of the deed restriction at 28 Liberty Street, a.k.a. One Chase Manhattan Plaza. Where the Landmarks Preservation Commission has failed to exercise its powers and save this Modernist masterpiece, this safe guard of a deed restriction–if upheld–will preserve the architectural experience as it was intended to be. In fact, the sheer existence of such a restriction reveals the great foresight and care which went into the planning of this architecture to prevent it from being marred from future, insensitive fads, most relevantly the corporate “Apple Cube.” More broadly, the proliferation of recent deed changes which disadvantage the public to serve private entities is deplorable. Any changes should be weighed in the context of the long term: is it wise to permanently alter an individual landmark for the current owner? Do these proposed spaces hold any longitudinal, classical value?

As HDC testified at the LPC public hearing and wrote a follow-up letter for the subsequent public meeting, we are gravely disappointed in the LPC’s failure to regulate this property’s aesthetic qualities competently, and the deed retriction is further evidence that this building has been failed. Even more disappointing is the proposal for two large glass cubes at the northwest corner and at the Nassau Street and Pine Street entrance. The Nassau Street cube, though smaller than the one at the northwest corner, is particularly egregious due to its interruption of the plaza’s flow and the view corridor toward the plaza and of Jean Dubuffet’s famed sculpture, “Group of Four Trees”. Similarly, the Pine Street cube is a detriment to experiencing Noguchi’s “Sunken Garden.” The glass cubes, whose function is to simply display signage, would add unnecessary square footage that would disrupt the design intent of this space, cluttering up a masterpiece. The deed restriction was conceived to assure this icon of the International Style would remain open and free from any built structures in perpetuity: please do not lift it.

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Category: The Politics of Preservation · Tags:

Preservation School 2016

Posted by on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

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Head back to school with HDC!

The Historic Districts Council is pleased to present a series of classes that will illuminate the essentials of historic preservation. Whether you live in a historic district, serve on your local community board or just want to learn about the built environment of your city, these classes will provide you with knowledge and vocabulary about historic preservation practice in New York City. The classes are designed to cover the basics over four sessions to give participants an overall understanding of such topics as land use planning and building types in New York City, and instruct hands-on skills, including how to read architectural drawings and how to best research and photograph buildings.

 

Thursday, October 6, 6 pm:

Preservation 101 & Basics of Land Use Planning in NYC

This introductory course will begin with an overview of the various regulations and funding mechanisms used to preserve historic buildings in New York City. The second part of the session will familiarize participants with the broader umbrella under which preservation falls: land use planning. This section will cover New York City’s governing structure, how zoning works and New York City’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).

Instructor: Tara Kelly

REGISTER 


Thursday, October 13, 6 pm:

Architectural Photography & Social Media for Preservation Campaigns

Historic Preservation is first and foremost a visual field. This session will cover two important topics pertaining to marketing and messaging. The first part will provide tips and tricks to improve your photos of buildings and streetscapes in order to maximize their impact. The second part will teach participants how to harness the power of social media to enhance preservation campaigns, build a constituency and sound a call-to-action. Participants will leave with practical strategies to better manage their organizational “brand” and drive traffic to social media profiles and websites.  Instructors: Lynn Massimo & Cristiana Peña

Instructors: Lynn Massimo & Cristiana Peña

REGISTER 


Thursday, October 20, 6 pm:   Reading Architectural Drawings & Overview of Common NYC Building Materials

Architectural drawings and renderings illustrate the often complicated design and construction plans for proposed building projects. The first part of this session will teach participants how to evaluate such documents in order to understand and analyze an upcoming construction project. The second part of the session will provide an overview of common building materials used in New York City, including terra-cotta, brick, brownstone, concrete and much more. The session will explain how these materials are employed, how to identify them, and “scratch the surface” on their maintenance and conservation.

Instructors: Dan Allen & Brendan Coburn

REGISTER 


Thursday, October 27, 6 pm:   NYC Architectural Styles & How to Research Buildings

The first part of this session will focus on common architectural styles and building types found in New York City’s historic built environment, and instruct participants on how to identify them by their distinguishing features. The second part of the session will guide participants on tools and strategies for researching buildings in New York City, including various repositories and document types. Learn the basics of how to investigate the origins and stories behind historic properties.

Instructor: Gregory Dietrich

REGISTER


REGISTER FOR ALL 4 CLASSES


Classes:

$15 each or $50 for all 4 classes

Scholarships available

please contact Barbara Zay at bzay@hdc.org

 

Classes will take place at:

Neighborhood Preservation Center

232 East 11 Street

New York, NY 10003

6:00PM


Support is provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by City Council Members Ben Kallos, Rosie Mendez, Mark Levine, Inez Dickens, Vincent Gentile, Corey Johnson, Stephen Levin, Margaret Chin, Dan Garodnick, and Rafael Salamanca and New York State Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried, and Daniel O’Donnell.nysca-black

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Category: Featured, Program & Events · Tags:

Six to Celebrate – Fall Tours

Posted by on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

 Clay Avenue & Grand Concourse – October 30 ; Yorkville – October 30; East New York- September 24

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Sunday, October 30, 2016- Six to Celebrate Tour– Clay Avenue & Grand Concourse – 11:30 am

Sunday, October 30, 2016 Six to Celebrate Tour–  East River Vistas: Architecture and Changing Lifestyles in Yorkville- 2 pm


Support is provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by City Council Members Ben Kallos, Rosie Mendez, Mark Levine, Inez Dickens, Vincent Gentile, Corey Johnson, Stephen Levin, Margaret Chin, Dan Garodnick, and Rafael Salamanca and New York State Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried, and Daniel O’Donnell.

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Category: Featured, Six to Celebrate · Tags:

HDC Statement on 339 West 29th Street aka Hopper-Gibbons House

Posted by on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

HDC thanks Friends of LaMartine Place, our elected officials and our partner organizations for remaining in coalition for all of these years to preserve the Hopper-Gibbons house’s legacy. Our collective cause has brought us together once again in what is the latest attempt to legitimize the marring of history.
 
The persisting presence of the illegal fifth floor addition is an affront to our history, our culture, and the law. From start to finish, this catastrophe has been self-inflicted by the owner and has come at the expense of the community.
 
HDC is alarmed that an application has been filed with the LPC to determine appropriateness. What the owner has defined as appropriate in the renderings submitted has been defined as illegal by the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division. Even more concerning, another city agency, the DOB, has failed to correct this situation by court order for over a year. 
 
The applicant has stated that the “back story” of this building is “not relevant” to this current application to the LPC. We could not disagree more, because at no. 339, its history, and back story, is everything. This is one of the few sites in New York City that was designated for its cultural significance, as opposed to aesthetics, as this row of houses survived the Draft Riots of 1863. Further, no 339 is the only known, extant Underground Railroad stop in Manhattan. 
 
Of all of the alterations that can be made to this building, short of demolition, building a rooftop addition and effectively destroying the path of the building’s escapees from 1863 is the most injurious.  These houses were here before we were, and HDC will advocate to ensure that they remain long after we are gone, so that these structures can continue to speak to a past in a city that will inevitably keep changing around them.

Category: LPC · Tags: , ,

Secret Lives Tour: The Gardens of Jackson Heights

Posted by on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

11 am

Jackson Heights in Queens was the first Garden Community and continues to be the largest in the United States. These garden style apartments, detached and semi-detached houses were built as an answer to the crowded slums of Manhattan. The Queensboro Corporation successfully campaigned to have the subway extended through Jackson Heights and built up the area during the early 20th century. The large apartment buildings take up entire blocks with interior courtyards not accessible to the public. These gardens are what made Jackson Heights so unique and appealing, and continue to be a draw today. The picturesque residences were designed in Georgian, Tudor, Gothic, Italian Renaissance and Spanish Romanesque styles. Decorative brickwork, loggias and slate roofs are quintessential design elements found in the architecture. Institutional and commercial buildings were produced to match the residential. HDC named Jackson Heights one of its Six to Celebrate neighborhoods in 2011.

A section of Jackson Heights was designated as a New York City Historic District in 1993,  unfortunately not all the architecturally worthy building were included in the district. Local Queens advocates such as the Jackson Heights Beautification Group (JHBG) have been campaigning to have the district extended. Join HDC and memebers of the JHBG on October 15th as we explore beautiful Jackson Heights, view the interior gardens and learn how to become involved in the preservation of the neighborhood.

General Admission $40

Friends / Seniors $30

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HDC@LPC – Designation Testimony for September 13, 2016

Posted by on Monday, September 12, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

Item 2

LP – 2575

BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN

EMPIRE STATE DAIRY COMPANY BUILDINGS, 2840 Atlantic Avenue

Thank you for hearing public testimony today. HDC wishes to reiterate its support for the designation of the Empire State Dairy, and to thank the LPC for moving forward to consider this landmark-worthy complex. The buildings are threatened by the city’s rezoning plans, especially due to their presence on Atlantic Avenue, where increased bulk is being encouraged. The complex is listed in the Environmental Impact Statement as a projected development site, which makes this designation all the more imperative and symbolic. The agency is pursuing designation in part because the buildings have become endangered, and we applaud this effort. In a neighborhood that has only three designated landmarks, this designation would send a strong message to residents about the importance of their neighborhood anchors. An even stronger message would be to take further actions to designate more of East New York’s significant structures so that the city celebrates this vibrant community’s past while also planning for its future.

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Item 3

LP – 2577

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN, block 1290, lot 14

MINNIE E. YOUNG RESIDENCE, 19 East 54th Street

The austere, granite façade of 19 East 54th Street is quite a surprise when compared with the ornate Beaux-Arts designs for which the architectural firm of Hiss & Weekes is best known, most notably the Gotham Hotel. For the widowed Minnie Young, Hiss & Weekes designed a restrained Italian Renaissance inspired town house with a central entrance, pedimented piano nobile windows, and a deep cornice. The openings in the granite facade are crisply cut and virtually devoid of applied decoration. Completed in 1899, the house was originally occupied by Minnie Young and her sister, Joanne B. Arents, along with a significant number of servants – nine in 1900 and seven in 1910. As the neighborhood changed, the house was converted for commercial use, which explains the presence of display windows on the first floor. One notable period in its commercial life was the 1960s, when the building housed the prestigious Kenneth Beauty Salon, which counted Jacqueline Kennedy as a client. Today, the building stands as a rare reminder of East Midtown’s once residential use and character, and as a fine architectural example of such. The fact of its survival and longevity in an ever-changing midtown context is reason enough to grant the building landmark status.

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Item 4

LP – 2578

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN, block 1291, lot 127

MARTIN ERDMANN RESIDENCE, 57 East 55th Street

This striking town house was designed by Taylor & Levi and completed in 1908-09 for Martin Erdmann, a successful banker who commissioned the house for his early retirement when he was only in his forties. In 1910, he lived here on his own income, with no family members, but with eight servants. Erdmann was born in New York, but his father was from Germany, which may explain the house’s unusual German Renaissance style design. The building is unlike any contemporary New York town house, with its gabled front, strapwork ornament and leaded windows. In 1909, an anonymous critic for the journal Architecture commented on just how unusual the façade was, noting that it was “conceived in so different a vein from most New York houses that its propriety can be questioned…but there is much in this house to awaken an intelligence lulled to sleep by monotonous repetition of classic forms.”

This is the only remaining house on what was once a residential block. It has been preserved since 1956 by The Friars Club, a club for actors. Club members refer to the building as “The Monastery.” The club was established in 1904 and in 1911 inaugurated the Friar Frolics, for which Irving Berlin wrote “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” The club is best known to the public for its famous Celebrity Roasts, where famous performers joke about the guest of honor. Though not being considered for landmark status today, it is worth noting that many of Erdmann’s original interiors remain intact.

57-east-55-friars-club

 

Item 5

LP – 2581

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN, block 1275, Lot 61

18 EAST 41ST STREET BUILDING, 18-20 East 41st Street

In 1912, the architects George & Edward Blum received a commission for a twenty-story office building from the Holland Construction Company. Over the course of their prolific careers, the Blums created some of the most distinctive buildings in New York City, often employing a singular Arts-and-Crafts aesthetic that exploited the properties of ornamental terra cotta. Although the Blums are best known for their apartment houses, they were also responsible for a significant number of commercial office and loft buildings. The East 41st Street office building is one of their most unusual, given that it was designed in the neo-Gothic style. This choice of design, as well as the use of terra-cotta cladding, was likely inspired by the Woolworth Building, which was then under construction. Like the Woolworth, 18 East 41st Street’s terra-cotta is coated with a bright white glaze, with the recessed sections of the three dimensional façades highlighted with polychromy.

However, what makes the East 41st Street building so exceptional is the quality of the ornamental detail, which combines the Blums’ interest in using both organic and geometric forms. The façade is highlighted with spandrels, vertical bands, balconies and other features on which can be found twining vines with large leaves and what appear to be ripe figs ready for the picking. The Blums, who were of Alsatian descent, studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and were familiar with progressive French ornamental design. They used one of their favorite French-inspired ornamental devices on this building – the naturalistic leaves that appear to lap over their frames. These organic design features are balanced on several of the Blums’ most important buildings with an overlay of geometric detail. This is evident here in the square grids that appear in many locations on the façade and in the geometric grids cut into the shield designs used on the projecting window balconies. The building has sustained a few alterations over the years, including the removal of its storefront, but has undergone an exceptionally sensitive restoration. Its striking features and commanding presence make it worthy of landmark status.

18-20-east-41st

 

Item 6

LP – 2580

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN, block 1285, lot 59

HAMPTON SHOPS BUILDING, 18-20 East 50th Street

The Hampton Shops Building, a well-preserved neo-Gothic skyscraper, is fully deserving of landmark status, not just on its own merits, but as a contextual backdrop for St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Designed by Rouse & Goldstone, with Joseph L. Steinman, the structure is an anomaly amongst the firm’s prolific catalogue in New York City. William L. Rouse and Lafayette A. Goldstone joined forces in 1909 and quickly made a name for themselves in designing grand apartment buildings. They were also known for their high level of skill at adapting Renaissance-inspired architecture to New York City’s skyscraper typology. Completed in 1916, the Hampton Shops Building is neither an apartment building nor a Renaissance Revival style building. For this commission, they considered the context of the new structure, directly across the street from the south façade of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and chose grey terra-cotta cladding and gracious Gothic style ornament to complement their venerable neighbor. It is worth noting that in the designation report for the individually landmarked S. Jarmulowsky Bank Building, the LPC described both that structure and the Hampton Shops Building as “unique designs” for the firm of Rouse & Goldstone. It is only fitting, then, that this building, like the Jarmulowsky Bank, be granted landmark status. With its strong verticality, pointed arches and rich ornament, the building contributes to East Midtown’s history and sense of place, and should be celebrated and protected as such.

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Item 7

LP – 2579

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN, block 1279, lot 28

YALE CLUB OF NEW YORK CITY, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue

The original Yale Club of New York City opened on Madison Square in 1897. After moving to 30 West 44th street in 1901, the Club relocated permanently to 50 Vanderbilt Avenue in 1915. At that time, the Grand Central Terminal area was fast becoming the center of civic life in New York, and it made sense for a club catering to successful businessmen to be in the heart of it. Built across the street from the terminal shortly after its completion and on land owned by the New York & Harlem Railroad, the Yale Club is an important contextual component to the Grand Central area.

The 22-story “clubhouse,” seven bays wide along Vanderbilt and six bays deep along 44th Street, was designed by New York architect James Gamble Rogers. Rogers was known for not only revivalism but outright historicism in architecture, though he often relied on modern construction methods. The neo-classical Yale Club incorporates elements of the Italian Renaissance Revival. A massive five-story base of coursed limestone ashlar with rusticated joints supports fourteen stories of tan brick, topped by a double-height ballroom in the limestone-clad “capital,” consisting of round-arched windows flanked by monumental order which appears, from the ground, to be some version of Corinthian. The deeply overhanging roof remains intact, with copper modillions and anthemia visible, a rarity in buildings of this style and period.

In addition to this highly-visible commission, Rogers, a Yale alumnus, was responsible for extensive work at Yale’s New Haven campus. In 1917, shortly after completing the Yale Club, Gamble Rogers was commissioned by the university to master plan and redesign a significant and prominent part of Yale’s central campus, known as the Memorial Quadrangle, now Branford & Saybrook Colleges.

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Item 8

LP – 2576

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN, block 1283, lot 17

400 MADISON AVENUE BUILDING, 400 Madison Avenue

Constructed during the speculative building boom of the late 1920s, the 20-story office building at 400 Madison was one of several rental office buildings—in aggregate, over 3 million square feet of space—added to the particularly booming “Grand Central Zone” in 1929 alone. It replaced two six-story apartment buildings as the neighborhood was transformed into the business center of Manhattan. The unusual footprint, 188 feet long on Madison and only 44 feet deep along 47th & 48th Streets, allowed for extensive street frontage along the avenue, offering prime retail space. The second floor was originally designated for a bank, with upper floors rented out as commercial office space. A selling point of the design was that “[n]o portion of usable floor area will be more than 27 feet from a window,” and that no space was wasted with light wells or rear courts, efficiencies that would not have been lost on investors or renters. All service portions of the building were located along the rear wall, away from daylight.

The tiered upper stories of 400 Madison take advantage of the light & air zoning requirements to deploy a richly textured program of boldly geometric Gothic Revival-inspired terra cotta ornament, including crenellation, pinnacles and tracery elements topping an otherwise restrained façade. At street level, the original bronze and glass storefronts remain remarkably intact, a rarity in ever-changing Midtown. The unusual form of the building, masterfully turning an odd footprint into a selling feature based on natural light and retail frontage, coupled with the intactness of its elaborate terra-cotta decoration and street-level storefronts reflecting the boom years of the late 1920s in Midtown, qualify 400 Madison for consideration as a New York City Landmark.

Craig Severance studied in France before beginning to practice architecture in New York City around 1900. After a brief stint with Carrère & Hastings, Severance established his own practice in 1907. Severance partnered with William Van Alen between 1914 and the early 1920s, before returning to his own practice. In the 1920s, Severance became one of the most successful and well-known commercial architects in New York real estate circles. Just after designing 400 Madison, the architect engaged in what many observers of the period called the “altitude race” between Severance and his former partner, Van Alen, to build the tallest building in New York. Severance’s 1929 commission for 40 Wall Street was beaten out on a technicality by the spire of Van Alen’s 1930 Chrysler Building before the Empire State Building overtook both in 1931.

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**Note regarding Item 9: 601 LEXINGTON AVENUE (FORMERLY THE CITICORP CENTER) AND ST. PETER’S LUTHERAN CHURCH

On September 13, the LPC is also considering the designation of 601 Lexington Avenue, formerly known as the Citicorp Center, designed by Hugh Stubbins with Emery Roth & Sons and built in 1977.  In its classification for the 12 buildings it proposes to designate within the East Midtown Rezoning area, the LPC identified three categories: “pre-Grand Central Terminal”, “Terminal City”, and “post-Grand Central Terminal”. Only one building, Citicorp, falls within the final category, despite the presence of many significant mid-century office buildings in the area, and the inclusion of several of these on the LPC’s own list of eligible landmarks as part of the city’s Environmental Impact Statement. Even after the announcement of the 12 buildings to be designated, HDC continued to advocate for these mid-century buildings, but the LPC refuses to pursue any of them. HDC is dismayed by this oversight, especially since this inaction seems to be driven by real estate pressure.

While none of the city’s preservation advocates recommended the building for landmark status, the inclusion of Citicorp is not controversial in itself. The building is, after all, an iconic skyscraper and an important architectural record of 1970s New York. HDC is pleased to see it move forward toward designation. However, in the context of the buildings that are being left out of the LPC’s East Midtown action, Citicorp’s presence on the list looks like a token gesture in an attempt to appear inclusionary of all phases of the area’s history, when, in fact, there is a significant layer of roughly 50 years that will not be represented in this historic action. Had this building come forward for a hearing outside the context of the East Midtown Rezoning, HDC would have gladly advocated and testified on its behalf.

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HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on September 13, 2016

Posted by on Monday, September 12, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.

 

Item 1

893 Broadway – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #186641

A neo-Grec style L-shaped commercial building built in 1844 and altered in 1873-74 by James J.F. Gavigon with a new neo-Grec style cast iron faзade. Application is to replace storefront infill and alter the facades.

HDC applauds measures to restore this fine building in Ladies’ Mile, but feels that any such effort should take its cues from the ample historic photo documentation that exists for this building in order to properly replicate its details.

LPC determination: Approved

893-broadway

 

Item 2

38 West 76th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #180870

A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse with Romanesque Revival style elements designed by Gilbert A. Schellenger and built in 1891. Application is to reconstruct a stair and reconfigure the areaway.

The replacement of one bad intervention with another is not good practice in historic districts, and the proposed stair does nothing to bring this house in the right direction. At the turn of the 20th century, stoops were a real feature of rowhouses, which is especially true in this district. Great examples of existing stoops are found all around this house, and we wish to make a plea for the replication of this house’s original stoop, rather than fancifying them with cast iron newel posts in an attempt to mitigate their impact.

LPC determination: No Action

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38-west-76th-street-prop

 

Item 3

340 Riverside Drive – Riverside – West End Extension II Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #190012

A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by Sugarman & Berger and built in 1925. Application is to replace windows.

HDC finds that a more sensitive approach would be to bring back the double-hung windows in this location, rather than installing tilt-and-turn windows. An even better solution would be for the building to pursue a Master Plan to return the mutli-light window configuration slowly over time, rather than allowing for piece-meal changes that detract from the building’s overall appearance. A Master Plan for the thru-wall air conditioning units would also be preferable, in order to ensure that the overall scheme is cohesive.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

340-riverside-drive

 

Item 5

236 West 101st Street – Riverside – West End Extension II Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #187577

A Renaissance Revival rowhouse designed by Gilbert A. Schellenger and built in 1892-93. Application is to construct rear yard and rooftop additions, raise the chimney and replace windows.

The proposed rooftop addition would be entirely invisible if not for the bulkhead, so we ask that the applicant investigate bringing down the height as much as possible. HDC finds the treatment of the rear yard addition to be somewhat awkward, especially with the central metal spandrel panel, and finds it to be a little too tall, as well, strangely cutting off the bottoms of the top floor windows. We would suggest that they work with the LPC staff to get the details of the rear yard addition just right.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

236-west-101st-street-rear

236-west-101st-street

 

Item 7

122 West 69th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #186538

A Gothic Revival style church building with Romanesque Revival style elements designed by William Horation Day and built in 1880 . Application is to alter the landscape, and install gates and signage.

HDC wishes to compliment the applicant on this very sensitive and thoughtful formal landscape plan, which we are sure will greatly enhance the church campus and the historic district.

LPC determination: Approved

122-west-69th-street

 

Item 9

1 Riverside Drive – West End-Collegiate Extension Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #182950

A Beaux Arts style rowhouse designed by C. P. H. Gilbert and built in 1899-1901. Application is to install an entrance canopy and awnings.

HDC finds the awning in the courtyard to be an acceptable insertion. However, because the entrance canopy would obscure the portico on this individually landmarked structure, we do not find it appropriate. The existing entrance porch already has a decent overhang and a nice vehicle for displaying the center’s signage, so it would be a shame to mar these gracious entrance details for little benefit.

LPC determination: Approved

1-riverside-drive

 

Item 10

156 East 89th Street – Individual Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #186279

A Queen Anne style rowhouse designed by Hubert, Pirsson & Co. and built in 1886-87. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and alter the rear faзade.

While HDC finds the rooftop addition to be acceptable, we find the changes to the rear yard addition – namely the replacement of masonry with glass at the return of the bumpout – to be an egregious and inappopriate way to face the rear yard neighbors. The addition of this much glass would give the rear yard addition an unfortunate fish bowl effect.

LPC determination: Approved

156-east-89th-street

 

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , ,

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