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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.

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Hearing on January 17, 2017

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

9 Pierrepont Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194236

An Anglo-Italianate style rowhouse built in 1856. Application is to legalize the installation of rooftop mechanical equipment without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

HDC would suggest that the applicant follow the recommendations of the LPC staff to reconfigure the equipment by setting it back and making its finish more discreet. While the black painted finish accomplishes a less shiny appearance, it unfortunately makes it stand out in a different way. Moving the equipment out of view would be ideal.

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 3

828 Union Street – Park Slope Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #181487

A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by William Flanagan and built in 1884-85. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, modify masonry openings at the rear façade, and excavate the rear yard.

Architect: West Chin Architect

One of the character-defining features of this block is its pristine condition, both in the front and the rear, but also its roofline. The lack of any other rooftop incursions is a special quality. The proposed rooftop addition would necessitate the raising of the chimneys, which would then become extremely visible and distracting. While the rooftop addition may not be visible from immediately across the street, other potential views of the structure were not provided in the application that might show its visibility from down the block, for instance. HDC is opposed to any marring of the skyline of this block. While we would not object to the addition of a small bulkhead, appropriately set back from the front of the house, to give access to the roof, this large bedroom addition is a big intervention. It would seem that since the house is being gutted, the interior space could surely be configured to suit the spatial needs of its owner without plopping a bedroom on top. In the rear, HDC finds the additional glass to be too much for this uninterrupted block and objects to the installation of single-pane windows, but does not object to the proposed excavation.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 4

143 Fenimore Street – Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #187117

A house designed by Benjamin Driesler and built in 1905. Application is to replace siding, and to legalize the construction of a rear yard addition and garage, replacement ofwindows, installation of a fence, and alterations to the porch, all without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

Architect: Formworks, LLC

HDC would like to make a plea for a more thorough and thoughtful restoration of this fine house in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, recently named by HDC as one of its 2017 Six to Celebrate. This small historic district is positioned within a broader neighborhood with so much non-designated but worthy architecture that is being ravaged by tear-downs and over-development in recent years, making the protection of its already protected resources all the more important.

Based on inspection of the tax photo and the designation report description for this row of houses, the original cladding was either clapboard and/or shingles, making either material a suitable choice for number 143 Fenimore Street. It is very possible that at the very least, the bases of the porch columns would have been clad in shingles, and HDC feels this feature should be put back. The clapboard proposed for the exterior of the house, in addition to being made of a synthetic material, does not conform to the original spacing of four and a quarter inches, like the original clapboard found on 139 Fenimore Street and shown in this application. Rather, the proposed clapboard shows a spacing of seven inches, which is significantly wider and would make for a very different overall texture. HDC would also like to note that the proposed aluminum windows would be very unfortunate for a house of this age and style, and would highly recommend the installation of wood windows instead.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 6

688 6th Avenue – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194742

An early-twentieth century commercial style converted dwelling, originally built in 1862 and later altered. Application is to legalize the replacement of storefront infill and installation of signage, ATM, light fixtures, conduits and security camera without or in non-compliance with Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

Architect: David Bucovy Architect, PLLC

HDC finds little to admire in this illegal work. The aluminum cladding on the storefront is too heavy-handed and the signage overwhelms the building, especially at the parapet, where it obscures a lovely masonry detail. Restoring the building to its historic condition would be a much more sensitive and welcome approach.

LPC determination: No Action

 

Item 7

668 6th Avenue – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #195307

An altered Commercial style rowhouse built in 1850-51. Application is to alter the storefront.

Architect: Shalat Architects, P.C.

While we do not object to the proposed fenestration configuration, we do find that the proposed white color of the storefront would stick out from the rest of the building and from the streetscape, calling inappropriate attention to itself. A darker color would make this application acceptable.

LPC determination: Approved

 

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Hearing on January 10, 2017

Posted by on Monday, January 9, 2017 · 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

320 Kenmore Road – Douglaston Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #190602

An English Cottage style converted garage with chauffeur’s quarters designed by Josephine Wright Chapmen and built in 1913. Application is to construct a new building on the lot and alter the garage and driveway.

Architect: T.F. Cusanelli & Filletti Architects, P.C.

While this proposal for a new house at 320 Kenmore Road seems, on first glance, to be making an effort to be contextual, HDC feels that it does not go far enough. A new house in a Historic District is an intervention that requires very careful study of neighborhood character and precedents. To mix and match would do a disservice to the lot and the district.

HDC found several issues with the proposed design that we urge the Commission to consider. First, the design should take its strongest cues from both the existing carriage house on the lot and 318 Kenmore Road, both designed by Josephine Wright Chapman, one of only a handful of female architects working in the U.S. at the time, who was also the architect of seven other houses in Douglaston. Both the carriage house and number 318 are clad entirely in stucco, making the proposed brick base with stucco and half timbering above a strange choice. The awkwardly low pitch of the roof also does not resemble the steeply-pitched rooflines of its neighbors, and should be restudied. Second, some of the details, including the arched window on the front façade and the curved half-timber elements, are not quite accurate to the style to which the house aspires. And finally, our committee felt that the house’s overall bulk should be rethought and perhaps articulated differently to give number 318 a little breathing room. As proposed, the new house would press against its neighbor quite uncomfortably. Given the new house’s critical role in making the transition between number 318 and the yellow cottage on the other side, we urge the Commission to ask for a revised proposal.

LPC determination: No Action

 

Item 4

76 Kent Street – Eberhard Faber Pencil Company Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #190642

A German Renaissance Revival stable/storage building built c .1886-1904. Application is to install storefront infill and construct a rear yard addition.

Architect: Tom Winter Architect, P.C.

HDC asks that more effort be made to honor the industrial character of this building and this district by redesigning the proposed doors to more closely match their historic appearance, as seen in the historic photo provided in the application. The proposed steel and glass doors are, unfortunately, starkly modern in relation to their context, and would look too alien on the streetscape. The Commission has allowed garage-type doors to be fitted with glazing to accommodate signage and visibility for retail, and we would recommend such a variation on the historic condition here.

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 5

1 Hanson Place – Individual Landmark and Interior Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #195174

A neo-Romanesque style commercial skyscraper, with designated interior basement and ground-floor banking floors, designed by Halsey, McCormack & Helmer and built in 1927-1929. Application is to alter the interior and install canopies and signage.

Architect: Acheson Doyle Partners Architects

HDC finds the proposed approach to be very tasteful and respectful of most of the existing masonry, but wonders whether the applicant and the building owner could fulfill the project’s requirements while leaving more of the historic metalwork in place. In other words, could the new program work with less removal of historic fabric? Regarding the exterior signage, our committee felt that the large signs on the corner presently – and in the proposed scheme – obscure quite a bit of the historic limestone, so we would suggest scaling them down a bit.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 7

860 St. John’s Place – Crown Heights North II Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #191978

A Romanesque Revival/Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by Frederick L. Hine and built in 1898-99. Application is to legalize façade and areaway alterations without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

One of the great advantages of owning property in a designated Historic District is being able to call on the experienced staff of the LPC. In this case, some unfortunate alterations were made that could have been prevented, but it is not too late to benefit from the staff’s guidance to rectify those issues. HDC would particularly recommend that the applicant work with the staff to find a more suitable door for this charming house.

LAID OVER

 

Item 8

77 Reade Street – TriBeCa South Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194246

A store and loft building built in 1852-53 and altered by William F. Hemstreet in the early 20th-century Commercial style in 1924. Application is to legalize a rooftop railing installed in non-compliance with Certificate of Appropriateness 07-5890.

Architect: Polti + Siano Architects

The excessively tall guard rail on this building’s roof pushes the planters up so high that they stick out awkwardly above the roofline. HDC finds that this situation could easily be rectified by either installing a shorter guardrail or hanging the planters on the inside of the guardrail, rather than on top of it.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 13

375 West Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194211

An Italianate style store and loft building designed by J.B. Snook and built in 1875-76. Application is to replace cast iron vault lights.

Architect: Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, P.C.

The stairs at 375 West Broadway were originally made with vault light treads and risers, though today the applicant only wishes to replace the damaged vault lights on the risers. Because vault lights are readily available, and would be highly preferable, we would ask that the Commission require vault lights on both the treads and risers, even with modern framing. While this condition is not found on most buildings in the neighborhood, one need look no further than 62 Wooster Street (shown in this application), where a beautiful restoration was undertaken, to see the immense difference that this work would make.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 16

351 Amsterdam Avenue – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192195

A Renaissance Revival style tenement building designed by Gilbert A. Schellenger and built in 1895. Application is to legalize the installation of storefront infill installed in non-compliance with Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

HDC finds this illegal storefront to be very heavy-handed. While the previously approved proposal was far from distinguished, it was at least simple and more open, allowing it to blend in more seamlessly. Further, the installed lamp above the doorway only takes the ensemble further in the wrong direction. We ask that the Commission deny this application in favor of the previously approved proposal.

 

Item 18

39 West 67th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #162263

A neo-Renaissance style studio building designed by Pollard and Steinam and built in 1906-07. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future installation of windows.

Architect: Rand Engineering & Architecture, DPC

While HDC appreciates that the applicant proposes to return the original divided light condition with its new windows, we would ask that the applicant also duplicate the profile of the window frames, which would become much thicker as proposed, reducing the glazing significantly. This row of studio buildings is distinctive on the Upper West Side, and this building’s windows are important to its overall texture and appearance, so getting it right with this master plan is a great opportunity. Perhaps the replacements could be made of wood or aluminum-clad wood to truly preserve the building’s overall integrity.

 

Item 19

422 West 160th Street – Jumel Terrace Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #180667

A transitional Romanesque Revival/Queen Anne style rowhouse designed by Richard R. Davis and built in 1891. Application is to construct a rear yard addition.

S. M. Tam Architect, PLLC

With the exception of a few small bump-outs, this beautiful row of houses on West 160th Street has luckily avoided large and deleterious additions up to this point. HDC fears that this application for a nearly full-height rear addition would leave the rest of the row vulnerable to the same treatment. This row deserves to be left as intact as possible, and with its designated status, we hope it has a fighting chance.

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Continuing Education- Terra Cotta

Posted by on Monday, January 9, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

Learn about one of the most durable and beautiful materials- terra cotta ! 1.25.2017 3 AIA LU/HSW Credits/ 3 NY State Licensing Credits

Terra Cotta New York

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
9:00 am- 12:30 pm
3 AIA Approved LU/HSW Credits/ 3 NY State Licensing Credits
(Former) Loew's Valencia Theatercrop4416779971_5ac0d6a112_z

Architectural terra cotta is one of the most prevalent ornamental features in urban environments, and New York City is filled with remarkable examples. The skyline here is rich in terra cotta figures and intricate decorative  detail. This program will present a thorough consideration of varied aspects of this material.

Topics to be covered will include an in-depth discussion of the use of terra cotta in historic and modern buildings; the manufacturing of terra cotta for restoration and for new construction and case studies of the restoration and maintenance of these historic buildings. The program will feature three speakers, each an expert in this field.

Speakers are:

Dan Allen- Principal, CTA Architects
Susan Tunick– President, Friends of Terra Cotta and author of Terra-Cotta Skyline
Todd Poisson– Principal, BKSK Architects

 

*********

Public-$125

Friends of HDC-$100

Includes continental breakfast

REGISTER 


 

Neighborhood Preservation Center
232 East 11 Street New York, NY 10003

3 AIA Approved LU/HSW Credits/ 3 NY State Licensing Credits

For more information or to RSVP please contact Michelle Arbulu at 212-614-9107 or marbulu at hdc.org

Category: Architect Panel, Featured · Tags:

Now Hiring: Spanish-Language Fellow

Posted by on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

Seize the opportunity to preserve, improve, and celebrate the places that make New York great

Introducing the Spanish-Language Fellowship

The Historic Districts Council was recently awarded funding by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Council on the Arts to hire a paid Spanish-language fellow to work on outreach, organizing, and education efforts in bilingual communities throughout New York City!

The position is open to current undergraduates due to complete their studies in the spring as well as those who may have graduated a semester early this year.

This is a paid position with full medical and dental benefits. Qualified undergraduates with an interest in architecture, historic preservation, New York history, or community organizing should apply as soon as possible.

View The Posting

Category: Featured · Tags:

HDC@LPC: 2017 Year in Review

Posted by on Friday, December 23, 2016 · 1 Comment 

HDC’s Public Review Committee is the only group that reviews every single Certificate of Appropriateness application submitted to the LPC

This is a tremendous task, but keeps HDC on the pulse of all of New York’s historic districts. Our volunteer committee and professional staff examine each proposal with scrutiny, and create intelligent testimony that is read to the Commission at every public hearing.

The following properties were some of the biggest projects we reviewed this past year, and HDC was at the forefront of shaping their outcomes.

Below are just a few of the many press outlets that quoted HDC’s testimony at Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearings in 2016!

 


Hotel Belleclaire, 250 West 77th Street (Individual Landmark)
Public Hearing: February 16
Hotel Belleclaire is an Individual NYC Landmark, designated for its outstanding Art Nouveau/Secessionist style designed by architect Emory Roth, which was one of his early commissions, being completed in 1903. Over the decades, the once ornate limestone ground floor vanished, virtually eliminating the building’s presence on the street. Without the continuation of the architecture of the building to the ground, Hotel Belleclaire’s beauty would go unnoticed unless one had the eye to look up.
In February, the LPC approved an application to restore the ground floor back to its original appearance, based on historic photographs. While some slight adjustments have been made to accommodate ADA requirements, this project is an outstanding example of how compromises can be made to accomplish a historic appearance that is also functional in the modern day.
Existing
Historic

Proposed


Tin Building (South Street Seaport Historic District)

Public Hearing: March 22

The Howard Hughes Corporation and SHoP Architects received approval from the LPC to reconstruct the Tin Building, which was ravaged by a fire in 1995. HDC endorsed the project, finding the plans to be sensitive overall, and is glad to see the building return to its proper glory in the South Street Seaport. We did, however, question the applicant’s strategy of presenting a segmented plan for a much larger scheme in the Seaport and urged the Commission to look ahead and consider the broader goals of the project and their impact on the historic district, where large-scale development is likely being pursued.

Existing

Proposed


839 St. Marks Avenue (Crown Heights North Historic District)

Public Hearing: March 22 

This rare freestanding mansion in Crown Heights North, originally belonging to Dean Sage, is located on St. Marks Avenue, which was once host to many grand residences. The building now houses the Institute for Community Living, a residence for the mentally disabled. The organization filed plans for a major expansion of the house, irreversibly changing the character of the building and its context to an institutional one.

While HDC is sensitive to the needs of the organization, we testified that more effort should be made to respect the mansion, especially on the St. Mark’s Avenue side, where more bulk should be sacrificed and setback to give the mansion some breathing space. The Commission agreed that the massing was problematic, and asked them to restudy the bulk, as well as the location of the entrance. The revised application, approved in April, moved some of the bulk from the more prominent façade on St. Marks Avenue to the Brooklyn Avenue façade, but in the end, HDC, along with members of the Crown Heights North community, was disappointed that the mansion will lose its freestanding character.

First Proposal

Second Proposal (Approved)


11-15 East 75th Street (Upper East Side Historic District)

Public Hearing: April 5

These properties are the future pied-a-terre of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who proposed to combine these three townhouses into one giant residence. While HDC remarked at the inherent egregious consumption, our main issue was the proposed destruction of a 1920s neo-Federal façade, which the applicant wished to convert and rebuild in all new materials to reflect a Queen Anne appearance.

Our Committee felt that preserving a historic alteration was important, and Commissioner Devonshire felt the same, as he commented how New York was losing a historic facade for a “bogus” one. With an allied front of preservation organizations and expert colleagues, the LPC mandated the neo-Federal façade to remain. Apparently, Mr. Abramovich’s neighbors in London do not favor him, and HDC’s testimony of opposition to this project was reported in several media outlets overseas, including the Daily Mail and the Telegraph.

Existing

Proposed


Dime Savings Bank, 9 Dekalb Avenue (Individual & Interior Landmark)
Public Hearing: April 19
This past April, the team of SHoP and Higgins-Quasebarth secured approval for a 1,066 foot tall tower in rapidly-changing downtown Brooklyn. As a part of this application, the Individual and Interior Landmarked Dime Savings Bank will serve as an entrance to the new skyscraper, and the project proposed to remove the teller counters, which are considered a protected feature within the interior.
HDC protested the tellers’ removal, and balked at the developer’s lament that these structures were costing them square footage, as we argued that there would be plenty of square footage in the new tower. At the public hearing, Commissioners raised HDC’s issue, and it was brought to light that the developer did not yet have a tenant for what will be retail space inside the former bank. As a result, LPC deemed it unnecessary to remove landmarked features, especially when how the space will be used by a prospective tenant is hypothetical.
Regarding the new tower, HDC and other groups were under the impression that the tower was not before the public for review, so we did not remark on it in testimony. At the hearing, though, Commissioner Michael Goldblum speculated that the tower was before the LPC’s review because of its relationship with the landmark. While everyone missed out on providing feedback to the LPC about what will become Brooklyn’s tallest skyscraper, the HDC Legal Committee penned  a letter opining our lost opportunity to comment, and cited several examples of partial landmark sites where the public’s voices were accounted for.
Existing
Proposed

Proposed


Chelsea Landmark Nightmares:

404 West 20th Street & 334 West 20th Street (Chelsea Historic District)

Public Hearing: April 19 / August 2

If there was an award for the biggest affront to historic preservation, 404 West 20th Street would have won in 2016. Recognized for being the oldest house in Chelsea, this project virtually transformed what was a completely intact, 1829 Federal style house (with some Greek Revival updates) into a facadist mega-mansion. The applicant’s desire to bring mass to the rear façade, rooftop, and an excavation rendered the house’s rare alley into a non-compliant side yard under zoning. This feature was substantially significant because it hinted that the house was much earlier and built individually, as opposed to the younger houses in the row. The wall, made of clapboard, also revealed to the passerby clues about the house’s age.
Despite neighborhood outcry, which was echoed by elected officials, the ultimate approval of this house was not sensitive. LPC Commissioners asked the applicant to allow the Federal envelope to persist, but in the end, the roof remained marred, the back is completely bumped out (obscuring any semblance of a Federal scale) and the side alley will be filled in to be flush with the flats building next door.
Down the street, at no. 334, a similar project was proposed for a completely intact Greek Revival rowhouse. Using the same expansion formula as no. 404, the applicant proposed to greatly expand the rear and add bulk to the roof, leaving little of the original building’s envelope. After not securing approval at the LPC Public Hearing, this applicant returned to LPC having removed all of the rooftop bulk and reducing the rear, which was ultimately approved. Arguably, the reduction of bulk at no. 334 is what should have been reduced at no. 404, as the latter is the only one of its kind and a rare architectural relic. HDC continues to work with neighbors on what appears to be an assault on old Chelsea.
404 West 20th Street:
Existing
Proposed
Proposed
Proposed
334 West 20th Street:
Historic
Existing & Proposed Front

Existing & Proposed Rear


Ford Foundation, 320 East 43rd Street (Individual & Interior Landmark)

Public Hearing: April 19

Arguably New York’s most verdant Interior Landmark, HDC had pause about the elimination of greenery inside the 42nd Street façade for a paved path. This deliberate design feature placed plantings against a glass curtain wall to capture interest inward toward this indoor garden. Among other features to be removed were brass doors and raised planters in the lobby, attributed  to be problematic for ADA requirements, despite the applicant’s admission that the proposal went beyond the requirements for accessibility. Some LPC Commissioners heeded HDC’s concerns about the loss of greenery, and offered a compromise: allow a jog of plantings to remain the glass and install a pathway behind it. The other features, however, will be lost.

21 West 17th Street & 16 West 18th Street (Ladies’ Mile Historic District)

Public Hearing: June 21

HDC found the proposed new construction by architect Morris Adjmi to be appealing and of quality materials, but was troubled by the demolition of not one, but two low-scale buildings in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District. While the buildings may not represent the highest and best examples of architecture in the district, their scale is represented by just 16 other buildings in the district. In fact, in 2005, a proposal to demolish 16 West 18th Street was denied due to the building’s contributing character.

HDC noted that in general, there has been an increasing, predatory trend in historic districts citywide to identify low-scale buildings and reinterpret their significance, which is not good preservation practice. Therefore, HDC did not support the application. The Commissioners deliberated on the issue, and in the end, the majority was convinced that the buildings were not essential to the district, and voted to approve their demolition.

21 West 17th Street, Existing

16 West 18th Street, Existing

Proposed


11-19 Jane Street & 85-89 Jane Street (Greenwich Village Historic District)

Public Hearings: June 21 / July 12

These two proposals, originally heard just weeks apart, threatened to dispose of Jane Street’s characteristic variety of scales and roof heights, preying on low-scale buildings in the historic district, yet again.

The proposal for 11-19 Jane Street was to demolish a garage and replace it with a large, modern structure. The Commissioners were divided on whether it would be appropriate to demolish the garage, but some suggested that setting back an addition on top would be preferable to demolition. The applicants, Developer Edward Minskoff and architect David Chipperfield, came back on July 26 with a proposal that had barely changed from the original. Commissioners were leaning toward allowing a new building on the site, just not this one. They especially wanted to see the height brought down. The project has not yet come back for another hearing.

The proposal for 85-89 Jane Street sought to redesign two buildings, a former stable and a former carriage house, transforming them into a huge single-family house. To add insult to injury, the applicant also wanted to add two enormously tall towers on the roof. HDC, along with many concerned residents, the local Assemblymember, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and other preservation advocates, spoke against it. Luckily, the Commission agreed that it was not a reasonable approach. Steven Harris Architects came back in October with a revised design that eliminated the tower and set back some of the bulk from the street, and the proposal was approved with the provision that they tweak the cornice design.

11-19 Jane Street, Existing

11-19 Jane Street, Proposed

85-89 Jane Street, Existing

85-89 Jane Street, Proposed 1 and Proposed 2 (Approved)


363 Lafayette Street (NoHo Historic District)

Public Hearing: July 12 

A new 10-story office building by architect Morris Adjmi will soon be rising on a quirky corner lot in NoHo. HDC testified that the first iteration of the design did not hit the mark since it differed so much from NoHo’s characteristic style of finely detailed buildings that do not contain setbacks or irregular massing. In order to relate to the district, HDC felt that it should rise straight up, much like the new building rising across the street at 11 Great Jones Street (designed by the same architect), which goes further toward presenting a modern and contextual insertion. The Commission generally liked the design, but asked the architect to come back after refining certain aspects, including the massing, setbacks and double-height sections, especially at the corner. The architect came back on August 2, having eliminated the double-height sections and diminished the setbacks, and it was approved.


Hopper-Gibbons House, 339 West 29th Street (LaMartine Place Historic District)

Public Hearing: September 20

The Hopper-Gibbons House in the Lamartine Place Historic District is an Underground Railroad stop in Chelsea, Manhattan. The house and the row was designated as an historic district for cultural reasons — the family of no. 339 was violently attacked in the 1863 Draft Riots for harboring runaway slaves. The abolitionists escaped via the rooftop, hopping house to house until ultimately making a safe exit through a neighboring home. This house and row has remained essentially intact until its current owner illegally constructed a 5th story addition after LPC designation. This 5th floor destroys the building’s significance, as it eliminates the escape path for which this row was supposed to be protected. On Sept. 20, 2016 the owner applied to the LPC for forgiveness for this, in attemp to legalize this addition.
Although no action was officially taken on the proposal at the public hearing, 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. 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 on the abolitionists’ escape path 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.
Prior to September’s LPC hearing, advocates won in court, most recently at the NY State Supreme Court Appellate Division which ruled that this rooftop is illegal. The DOB subsequently issued an order to correct to remove this 5th floor and return it to its original 4 stories, yet it still stands. HDC and Friends of Hopper-Gibbons/LaMartine Place Historic District continue to vigilantly monitor this precious building.
Historic
Existing
Proposed

American Museum of Natural History, 200 Central Park West (Individual Landmark)

Public Hearing: October 11 

The proposed expansion of the American Museum of Natural History was a controversial project within the Upper West Side community. HDC neither opposed the demolition of three buildings to accommodate the expansion, nor the concept of an expansion itself, but did offer some suggestions to help the new building fit in better in its context.

We testified in favor of the Columbus Avenue façade’s massing, scale and contemporary approach, but felt that the exterior made too much of a literal gesture about what is found on the interior. The idea of the exterior expressing the interior is a concept introduced during the Modern movement. The problem with its application here is that the historic museum stands as a fortress, not giving anything away about what is going on inside. In this way, the introduction of such a literal gesture seemed incongruous.

The Commissioners loved nearly every aspect of the project and approved it with no modifications. In addition to HDC’s comments, other preservation advocates had some interesting suggestions, as well, but the Commissioners barely referenced any of them in their comments.

Proposed Columbus Avenue facade

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for December 13, 2016

Posted by on Friday, December 16, 2016 · 1 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 3
1324 Bergen Street – Crown Heights North III Historic District
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #185333
A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by Amzi Hill and built c. 1876. Application is to construct a rear addition.
Of this row of five modest two-story rowhouses, this is the first proposal to build out the rear in full height and width. Missing from this application were examples of other rear yard additions of this scale, design or materials within the district. In a district characterized by earthy materials of brick, brownstone and limestone, it would have been helpful to make a better case for why this design is appropriate. On its face, the glass and steel, set within a black frame clashes with its context.
LPC determination: Approved with modifications
 


Item 5

102 West 118th Street – Mount Morris Park Extension Historic District
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194137
A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by William Guggolz and built c. 1892. Application is to construct rear yard and rooftop additions.
It is clear that this building’s conversion to a five family apartment building is driving the exterior design. While the bulk is not an issue, the window openings and private balconies appear suburban and not like something that is found in an historic district. What’s more, the examples provided as precedent for this type of design are not located within the Mount Morris Park Historic District or were constructed prior to designation. Other examples provided of rears of rows display historic punched openings with original “el” extensions, which communicate a confusing message as the proposed design deviates entirely from what is shown. The rooftop bulkhead should also be smaller and slanted to provide rooftop access from the duplex apartment. There is much unnecessary space proposed in the plan for this space and it should be reduced to lessen the impact in this district. This is a new district with only a handful of applications submitted to the Commission thus far, so it is paramount that the LPC review applications with scrutiny so that approved alterations move this district in a positive direction.
LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 7

144 West 14th Street – Individual Landmark Historic District
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194675
A Renaissance Revival style loft building, designed by Brunner & Tryon and built in 1895-96. Application is to install new storefront infill, new signage and flagpoles.
This stretch of 14th Street is a visual respite from the clutter of buildings and signage along this thoroughfare.  The soon-to-be landmarked Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters Building and 144 West 14th Street provides a juxtaposition of a strong Art Deco composition with the equally imposing classical mass of no. 144. Collectively, these two buildings communicate a strong architectural presence along the streetscape. To further improve the street experience, HDC would like to see a stronger designed ground floor configuration.  The only historic photo furnished was the 1940 tax photo. That means that the building was already a half of a century old when the photo was taken, and more research should be conducted to design a ground floor on par with an individual landmark.
LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 8

38 Bethune Street – Greenwich Village Historic District
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #183716
A building originally built in 1927 as a one-story garage, and altered with the addition of two stories in 2004. Application is to enlarge a rooftop bulkhead, relocate the chimney, replace windows and doors, modify window openings, install new window openings, and install a balcony.
HDC found the 2004 alteration well conceived in context, proportion, and design. The proposed changes to the window openings results in a loss of their relationship to the ground floor proportionally. This is especially notable where the brick pier separating the door from the garage suddenly disappears at the second story. 
The creation of four rectangular windows separated by thin brick piers is out of proportion for a brick building’s openings, which would have been punched windows, not these large expanses. The applicant provided several good examples of ribbon window configurations in the vicinity, and HDC suggests the design move more toward this, or keep the existing design. The use of the steel mullions in the existing design works quite well. HDC believes that approved alterations to facades in historic districts should be improvements and aesthetics of a higher caliber than what was there previously. This proposal is trying to create a symmetrical top to an asymmetric bottom, and this attempt at regularization has lost something interesting in the process. 
LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

East Midtown Rezoning- List of Designated Buildings

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

Update: The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to calendar 12 buildings in East Midtown

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to designate the Citicorp Center, 601 Lexington Avenue in East Midtown on Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to designate 11 buildings in East Midtown on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 Minnie E. Young Residence at 19 East 54th Street and the Martin Erdmann Residence at 57 East 57th Street, 18 East 41st Street BuildingThe Hampton Shops Building, 18-20 East 50th StreetThe Yale Club, 50 VanderbiltThe Pershing Square Building, 125 Park AvenueThe Graybar Building, 420 Lexington Avenue400 Madison AvenueThe Shelton HotelThe Beverly Hotel and the Hotel Lexington.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted on May 10, 2016 to calendar 7 buildings in East Midtown, bringing the total number of calendared properties in the area to 12. The other 5 buildings were calendared in 2013, after the city unveiled its plan to rezone the neighborhood to encourage the construction of taller office buildings. The LPC identified three eras of significance for East Midtown, all anchored by the presence of Grand Central Terminal. The 12 buildings were divided into three categories: “Pre-Grand Central Terminal”, “Terminal City” and “Post-Grand Central Terminal”.

LPC Chair Meenakshi Srivivasan announced that the 5 previously calendared buildings (Pershing Square Building, Graybar Building, Shelton Hotel, Beverly Hotel and Hotel Lexington) will be heard on July 19, 2016.

 

Click here to read more about the rezoning

Pre-Grand Central Terminal

Minnie Young Residence, 19 East 54th Street (Hiss & Weekes, 1899-1900)

Martin Erdmann Residence, 57 East 55th Street (Taylor & Levi, 1908-09)

Terminal City

18 East 41st Street (George & Edward Blum, 1912-14)

Hampton Shops Building, 18-20 East 50th Street (Rouse & Goldstone, 1915-16)

Yale Club, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue (James Gamble Rogers, 1915)

Pershing Square Building, 125 Park Avenue or 100 East 42nd Street (John Sloane with York & Sawyer, 1915-23)

Graybar Building, 420 Lexington Avenue (Sloan & Robertson, 1925-27)

400 Madison Avenue (H. Craig Severance, 1928-29)

Shelton Hotel, 525 Lexington Avenue (Arthur Loomis Harmon, 1922-24)

Beverly Hotel, 125 East 50th Street (Emery Roth & Sylvan Bien, 1926)

Lexington Hotel, 509 Lexington Avenue (Schultze & Weaver, 1928-29)

Post-Grand Central Terminal

Citicorp Center & St. Peter’s Church, 601 Lexington Avenue (Hugh A. Stubbins, Jr., Emery Roth & Sons, E. L. Barnes, 1974-78; chapel: 1977)

 

Category: east midtown rezoning, Featured, News, Newsfeed · Tags:

Secret Lives Tour- Morgan Library-psot

Posted by on Friday, December 9, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

library

225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street

December 8, 2016

4pm

Pierpont Morgan’s 1906 library is among the great treasures of New York. Deputy Director Brian Regan will give an insider’s look at the Morgan’s splendid architecture, including the designated McKim, Mead & White library and annex and the Renzo Piano expansion, now celebrating its tenth anniversary. Attendees can also view the designated Phelps Stokes – J. P. Morgan Jr. House which now houses the gift shop and cafe.

SOLD OUT

Meeting location provided upon registration

Category: Event · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Designation and Permit Testimony for Hearing on December 6, 2016

Posted by on Monday, December 5, 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
LP – 2585
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
1047 Amsterdam Avenue – Cathedral St. John the Divine and the Cathedral Close
Despite three hearings in 1966, one in 1979, and one in 2002, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine nor its Close has ever been designated an official landmark site. HDC has long supported the Morningside Heights community and its decades-long wishes to designate the cathedral and its close. The close is such an integral part of this ecclesiastical complex that the community did not want the cathedral designated without the inclusion of the close, and for good reason. As HDC testified in 2002,
“There may be room in the cathedral close for additional structures, but those structures must be designed and sited so that they do not compromise the Cathedral itself.  These decisions, we feel, are best made by the Commission, after adequate public review.  Without designation of the entire site, and with designation of the Cathedral alone, we are troubled by the possibility of the designated landmark being hemmed in to the extent that its preservation is in name only.”
 
It is unfortunate that the condominium developments within the close have been completed far ahead of the cathedral’s own repairs and completion.  These two high-rise condominiums now occupy the close, which are out of scale, clash in materials, and have troubling proximity to the old cathedral.
 

It remains the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and its sheer mass, made of solid stone, is a nod to the cathedrals of the Old World. Just like its European predecessors, which often took hundreds of years to build, this cathedral has entered its third century unfinished. It is comforting knowing that future work to this monument and its campus will benefit from the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s oversight, and be spared of any more aesthetic erosion.


Item 2
LP – 2584
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS HISTORIC DISTRICT
The Historic Districts Council enthusiastically endorses the designation of the Morningside Heights Historic District. Local residents and preservationists have been advocating for a district for over 20 years. HDC named the neighborhood one of its Six to Celebrate in 2012, and is proud to have worked closely with the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee to strategize for its successful designation.
While the neighborhood may be best known for its world famous institutions of higher learning, none of which are included within the district boundaries before you today, this is only one part of its fascinating story and architectural character. Its eastern and western borders consist of two designated scenic landmarks, the Olmsted-designed Morningside and Riverside parks, while all around is a fine mix of early 20th century residential architecture, from single-family rowhouses to Beaux-Arts style apartment buildings. With the exception of two churches, this district focuses entirely on the neighborhood’s residential story, but that story is well worth telling. Even before zoning laws were introduced to regulate land use, developers in Morningside Heights constructed rowhouses and modest apartment buildings on the side streets and grand apartment houses on the avenues, with particularly monumental examples on Riverside Drive, Claremont Avenue and Cathedral Parkway, and mixed-use commercial buildings along Broadway, giving the neighborhood a heterogeneous yet cohesive character. Its sense of place is derived from the confluence of this residential developmental trend paired with that of the development of its institutions, just steps away from one another.
 

In addition to steering clear of the neighborhood’s large institutions, it is regrettable that the proposed district also cuts out quite a number of buildings included in proposals by locals and elected officials, including sections of the neighborhood stretching up to its northern boundary at 125th Street. In particular, HDC finds the omission of Morningside Drive, the neighborhood’s eastern boundary and with which it shares its name (both were named after the park), to be a questionable decision. The less opulent apartment houses on Morningside Drive, constructed for a middle class clientele due to relative distance from the subway, play a role in telling the story of the neighborhood and deserve to be protected. Additionally, the promenade on Morningside Drive features observation platforms, imposing stone steps and a statue of social reformer Carl Schurz, all with a view down to the park below. As one of the neighborhood’s most picturesque places, HDC urges the Commission to include it in another phase at some point in the not-too-distant future.


Item 1

404 Grand Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194327

An Italianate style rowhouse built in the 19th Century. Application is to construct a rear yard addition and install rooftop mechanical equipment.

This project proposes to align with its neighbor, no. 406. To accomplish this, the work would entail a four-story demolition of its rear facade, sparing only the primary facade as original historic fabric. The drawings demonstrate that this demolition on the upper two floors would only gain mere feet. What’s more, in terms of appropriateness, this building should remain in plane with the row it is actually a part of, not its neighbor which belongs to a different rowhouse group. Aligning with its own row would allow for the retention of the upper two floors, which should be preserved.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 3

30 Middagh Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192200

A frame house built in 1824. Application is to alter the roof and replace windows.

The 1920s roof alteration does not lay the groundwork for a full on flattening of a Federal roof, because this alteration still preserved a pitch, which is one of the most character-defining features of this early building typology.  The proposed ceiling heights in the top floor are a generous 9’6″ which could be reduced to produce a ceiling height that is livable but also provides a slope which nods to the building’s condition as a Federal rowhouse. In terms of the rear design, this house retains original openings, most significantly the squashed top story windows. HDC asks that some rationalization of this facade be proposed, other than inserting a disproportionate Juliet balcony in the center of historic openings.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 4

150 Bergen Street – Boerum Hill Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #190054

A Greek Revival style rowhouse, constructed c. 1849-50. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions and replace windows.

While not listed in the docket, the doors proposed are inappropriate, especially the hardware which is modern and out of character with the facade. There are many original doors in Boerum Hill and the examples provided of other replacement doors in the district are unsatisfactory as a basis of comparison. The elevator mass is extremely visible, which is not surprising because it is an over scaled feature for a modestly sized 3-story building. There is not rooftop present anywhere else within this entire block, which is pristine. Regarding the rear yard addition, it is of a scale that is unprecedented in the block, and the upper two stories should be preserved. Collectively, these features as proposed are alien to the block, and the proportions take advantage of the house for an egregious outcome.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 2

135 Plymouth Street – DUMBO Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #181081

A factory complex built from 1879 to c. 1900, consisting of an Altered Vernacular style factory building, designed by J. Irving Howard, built in 1879, and expanded in 1886, and in 1904; a Romanesque Revival style factory building designed by William B. Tubby and built in 1891; and a Romanesque Revival style drafting room, and office building, designed by Rudolphe L. Daus and built in1900-1904. Application is to replace windows.

In exchange for these aluminum windows, HDC asks that the wooden brick molds in the areas of the special windows be repaired, maintained, or restored.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 5

201 MacDonough Street – Stuyvesant Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #181666

An Italianate style rowhouse built in 1872-73. Application is to legalize the installation of windows without LPC permit(s).

HDC is unclear how the owner was unaware that this building was landmarked. It’s particularly vexing that there is a lack of awareness of historic district status, given the early date of designation and the wide-spread and well-reported community interest in landmarking. Regardless, historic districts are attractive for a reason: enforcement. Ultimately this aesthetic beauty convinced this owner that buying this property was a good investment. Now, there are aluminum windows which failed at fitting the actual shape of the windows, at first with ignoring the arch tops and then again by ignoring the parlor floor and rigging a transom to force them to fit. This illegal work should not be permitted. HDC would also like to bring to the lpcs attention that many original details have disappeared from this house since its designation in the 1970s when compared with the 1980 tax photo, including the stoop railings and newel posts and the door. Allowing the windows to go will further degrade this property.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 8

615 Eastern Parkway – Crown Heights North II Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #191050

A Chateauesque style rowhouse built c. 1899 by Frederick L. Hine. Application is to construct an addition, modify the entrance and install a canopy.

While overall a handsome solution to adding a new building to an old one, there are some design decisions which should be modified to become more appropriate. The new addition tries to take a design approach which defaults to the old, such as its simplification of details and its toned-done composition, which is an appropriate gesture to the existing, older and much larger building. However, the connector piece which is partially recessed should set back entirely, including its large spandrels which occupy the same plane as the historic building. Similarly, this design element is repeated at the entrance of the historic building, applying the new design onto the old. This should be eliminated, and instead, the historic porch should be considered as a solution as it was attractive and fits this house and the adjoining opulent houses on the block. Instead of attempting to unify these structures, this composition would be more successful if they were disparate from one another, with the connector serving as a reveal and transition between the historic and the contemporary.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 7

118 Rutland Road – Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #186777

A neo-Renaissance style townhouse designed by Benjamin Driesler and built in 1911. Application is to construct a bay window, rear yard addition and mechanical equipment.

HDC supports this project. It is rare that there is an application which proposes to beautify a rear facade in an historically appropriate manner. The proposed design of the rear porch seems equal to the quality of details and craftsmanship of the early 20th century. This alteration doesn’t simply respect the house, it elevates it.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 9

55 Gansevoort Street – Gansevoort Market Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194595

A store and loft building designed by Joseph M. Dunn and built in 1887. Application is to remove the fire escape, replace the canopy, raise the roof, construct a rooftop addition, and install wind screens and mechanical equipment.

There are programmatic issues which make this proposal difficult to not be a glaring distraction along the streetscape. The desire to have two pools atop this irregular roof plan is driving the 7′ tall wind screens along the perimeter, which is not set back. The flatiron nature of this corner makes the appearance of the many angles of the coalescence of this screen even more noticeable, as if the cornice has suddenly sprouted glass. HDC suggests setting back the screens, and therefore the pools, to rectify this problem. The hot tub feature could also be constructed on a platform further back on the roof, instead of wedged into a triangle at the edge of the building.

HDC understands that the former owner illegally removed the vault lights from this property, which were supposed to be retained, and now they are history. We prefer that this feature be reincorporated. With all of the work proposed for the property, most of which focuses on selling itself, a feature like vault lights could be a positive move for business and attracting people to the building. Finally, we are curious to hear commissioner comments on the proposed milk glass globe light fixtures proposed at the canopy. While attractive, we would like to see either a precedent in the district or an explanation of why this design was chosen, other rather than  a showcasing of company wares.

LPC determination: No Action

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Designation and Permit Testimony for Hearing on November 29, 2016

Posted by on Monday, November 28, 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.

 

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

November 29, 2016

Item 1

LP – 2586

BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN

181 MONTAGUE STREET – PEOPLE’S TRUST COMPANY BUILDING

The Historic Districts Council wholeheartedly endorses the designation of the People’s Trust Company Building at 181 Montague Street. Not only was the building omitted from both the Brooklyn Heights Historic District and the Brooklyn Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, but it directly abuts a celebrated Individual and Interior Landmark, the Brooklyn Trust Company Building. These two structures, side-by-side, could easily be mistaken as holding the same protected status, given their equally dignified presences at the corner of Montague and Clinton Streets. The People’s Trust Company Building pre-dates the Brooklyn Trust Company Building by roughly ten years, and likely played a role in York & Sawyer’s design process for that later addition to Bank Row. The People’s Trust Company Building represents a purer devotion to Classical design, both in its temple form and meticulous proportions, while the Brooklyn Trust Company Building interprets and adapts Classical design to architectural trends in the early 20th century and the needs of its client. These complementary buildings, together, stand as reminders of the once bustling Bank Row on this section of Montague Street, and given their design quality and integrity, both still read very clearly as banks and continue to function that way today.

Of course, the building is most commonly known for its Classical façade on Montague Street, designed by Mowbray & Uffinger and built in 1903-06. Its lesser known, but still noteworthy addition on Pierrepont Street is not being considered today as part of the landmark site, which HDC thinks is an unfortunate oversight. The addition was designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, who were contiguously working on designs for the Empire State Building. Its monumental Art Deco door surround is the highlight of that block and deserves protection along with the rest of the structure. [Photo: LPC]

181-montague-street-designation-photo

 

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

November 29, 2016

Item 2

LP – 2587

BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN

185 MONTAGUE STREET – NATIONAL TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY BUILDING

The Historic Districts Council is pleased to testify in favor of the designation of the National Title Guaranty Company Building at 185 Montague Street. Along this stretch of Montague Street, also referred to as Bank Row, are a number of majestic bank buildings in a variety of styles – a characteristically diverse New York streetscape – and this Art Deco skyscraper is an important part of the ensemble. Its rich sculptural details, especially at the base, as well as its setback massing at the upper stories, help it to stand out, while its beige brick and limestone material palette help it to fit in nicely with the earlier buildings to its west. Together with the Brooklyn Trust Company Building and the hopefully soon-to-be-designated People’s Trust Company Building, the three form a striking group on a very visible corner and busy commercial corridor.

As HDC testified for The People’s Trust Company Building next door, this building, despite being on the fringe of two historic districts, has been lacking in legal protection. As the Commission will certainly remember, another building nearby and also just outside of both district boundaries, the former Brooklyn Gas Light Company Headquarters at 180 Remsen Street, was unfortunately demolished in 2005 due to its lack of protection, highlighting just how easy it can be to lose treasured buildings like these without landmark status. We are grateful that the Landmarks Preservation Commission is taking action to rectify that situation and to ensure that this building continues to play a vital role in contributing to its historic context for many years to come. [Photo: LPC]

185-montague-street-designation-photo

 

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

November 29, 2016

Item 3 LP – 2590

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN

SULLIVAN-THOMPSON HISTORIC DISTRICT

The Historic Districts Council fully supports the designation of the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District. The proposed district has a distinct character from the cocoon of historic districts surrounding it. It most notably demonstrates New York City’ s evolution of housing development spanning two centuries, as well as manufacturing, institutional and commercial historic buildings. Moreover, this neighborhood was home to a large African American population in the mid-19th century, and later many European immigrants. The area is notorious for its cultural and artistic associations, as well.

In short, this neighborhood is the picture of all of the attributes that a historic district should have, despite some alterations and examples of insensitive construction that has occurred in recent years. We hope that as the owners of historic buildings in this new district apply for permits, the Commission evaluates any proposed changes in light of the district’s cultural importance, as this area has already suffered the loss of such cultural landmarks (with a lower case ‘l’) as the Circle in the Square Theater and the Sullivan Street Playhouse.

While this neighborhood contains buildings in an array of ages and styles, the tenement is the dominant building type to the pedestrian eye. If the Commission is interested in protecting tenement neighborhoods, we would encourage consideration for the designation of portions of the Lower East Side, which even more powerfully conveys the city’s diversity of tenement architecture and whose links to the immigrant experience in New York City is of local, national and international significance. While HDC is happy that the majority of Manhattan Community District 2 now enjoys landmark status, other historic sections of lower Manhattan are rapidly disappearing. [Photo: LPC]

sullivan-thompson-hd-designation-photo

 

Certificate of Appropriateness Hearing:

Item 1

811 Walton Avenue – Grand Concourse Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194086

A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by Franklin, Bates & Heindsmann, and built in 1926-27. Application is to replace windows.

Since the windows on this building have nearly all been replaced, HDC asks the Commission and the applicant to consider a strategy, such as a Master Plan, to bring back this building’s six-over-six window configuration, even if only applying synthetic divided lights.

Architect: Charles H. Henkels, Architects

LPC Determination: Approved

811-walton-avenue

 

Item 2

233-33 38th Drive – Douglaston Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194152

A vacant lot created by a sub-division. Application is to construct a new house.

HDC finds the proposed new house to be a strong first draft for what could be a nice new addition to the Douglaston Historic District, given a few crucial tweaks. Our committee’s main concern has to do with proportions. Given the large size of the house, the roof appears quite squat. It would help tremendously if the slope of the roof were increased, perhaps bringing down the cornice a bit to achieve this. The dormers would benefit from further study to avoid cutting off the windows at the bottom, though another option might be to remove them entirely, opting instead for skylights installed at the rear of the roof to get light to the attic space. Our committee found the front porch to be too wide for the house, and suggests pulling the columns in closer to the front door.

Some of the details on the house would work better if simplified, including the balustrades on the porch, the heavy cornice and the unnecessary caps on each of the house’s windows. We also question whether quoins are an appropriate feature in this district, and ask that the applicant look again at the surrounding houses for cues in this direction. While the garage roof might, like the roof of the house, benefit from a steeper pitch, we applaud the garage’s freestanding configuration, which is typical in Douglaston, and thus makes an important gesture toward contextual appropriateness.

Architect: Architects Rule, P.C.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

233-33-38th-drive-proposed

 

Item 3

177-15 Murdock Avenue – Addisleigh Park Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #187722

A free-standing Tudor Revival style house with Colonial Revival style alterations, built c. 1925. Application is to construct an addition, replace windows, and install shutters and fencing.

HDC has several concerns about this application. While we find the massing and proportions of the side addition to be appropriate, the small windows on its side façade appear too modern for this house. Considering that this façade is visible from the street, the applicant should instead make an effort to replicate the design and window configuration on the side façade of the house’s other side wing, which matches the rest of the house. Additionally, since there is no historic evidence that there were shutters on this house, HDC asks that the applicant work with the LPC staff to determine whether or not they are appropriate.

Architect: BOLT Design Group, Inc.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

177-15-murdock-avenue-existing

177-15-murdock-avenue-proposed

 

Item 4

112-40 175th Place – Addisleigh Park Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192853

A Medevial Revival style house designed by H. Fogary and built in 1931. Application is to replace windows.

HDC feels that this house would certainly benefit from the installation of either wood or aluminum-clad wood windows, which would be much closer to its historic window profiles.

Architect: not listed

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

112-40-175th-place-existing

112-40-175th-place-proposed

 

Item 8

308 Canal Street – TriBeCa East Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #191212

An Italianate style store and loft building built in 1864-65. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and bulkheads, replace windows, install storefront infill and signage, and remove a fire escape.

Item 9

310 Canal Street – TriBeCa East Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #191848

A neo-Grec style store and loft building designed by John J. Devoe, Jr. and built in 1879, and an Italianate style store and loft building designed by William H. Hume and built in 1867-68. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and bulkheads, replace windows, install storefront infill, a ramp and signage, and new windows on the lot line façade.

While the window replacements are a vast improvement, HDC finds much of this application to be troubling. Though currently in poor shape, much surviving historic material exists at the storefronts to provide a road map for a more sensitive approach. Our committee felt that at the very least they should include more substantial bulkheads and that it would be best to avoid floor-to-ceiling glass. While we could imagine a one-story rooftop addition being acceptable here, the proposed addition is way too big for this building, making the entire façade appear quite top-heavy in the renderings. A better choice of materials would also go a long way toward making the addition more acceptable.

Architect: Paul Castrucci Architect

LPC Determination: No Action

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Item 11

4 St. Marks Place – Individual Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #186310

A Federal style townhouse built in 1831. Application is to install storefront infill and construct rooftop and rear additions.

As HDC often testifies, Federal townhouses are rare and treasured examples of Manhattan’s early dwellings that should be respected, not mutilated. The removal of the house’s roof and rear, including its dormer windows, which provide important evidence of the Federal style and the house’s date of construction, would severely compromise its integrity. Our committee, however, found the alteration to the storefront to be acceptable.

Architect: SWA Architecture

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

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Item 15

34 Dominick Street – Individual Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #172251

A Federal style rowhouse build in 1826. Application is to construct a rear yard addition, excavate the rear yard, and construct a rooftop bulkhead, deck and railings.

As we testified earlier today for a proposal at 4 St. Mark’s Place, another individually landmarked Federal townhouse, we are troubled by the amount of historic fabric to be removed here. The proposal for this Individual Landmark calls for taking out a massive amount of historic material in the rear and putting a visible addition on its roof, both of which would irreversibly alter this survivor. HDC urges the Commission not to approve.

Architect: Ben Herzog Architect, P.C.

LPC Determination: Approved

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Item 20

464-480 Hudson Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #193315

An apartment house designed by Renwick, Aspinwall, & Tucker and built in 1925-26. Application is to legalize the installation of signage and alterations to the storefront without permit(s) and to install mechanical units in the side alley.

HDC finds the illegal storefront to be banal in its design and choice of materials, and feels that infill of higher quality would be required if this item had come before the Commission in the first place. We ask that the storefront be corrected according to historic documentation for this building.

Architect: The Sustainable Space Architecture

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

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Item 21

771 Washington Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194621

A garage building built in 1924-25. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, demolish portions of the building, raise the parapet, and replace windows and ground-floor infill.

HDC applauds the applicant on this very sensitive rooftop addition. The restoration of the stepped parapet is a vast improvement and the setback and modest height of the addition is deferential to the historic structure and its context. Our only suggestion would be to match the windows’ multi-sash configuration on the proposed doors in order to avoid breaking the continuity of the facades’ texture.

Architect: BKSK

LPC Determination: No Action

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Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , , , ,

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The Historic Districts Council (HDC) is the advocate for all of New York City's historic neighborhoods. HDC is the only organization in New York that works directly with people who care about our city's historic neighborhoods and buildings. We represent a constituency of over 500 local community organizations.

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