E-BULLETIN- Aluminaire House doesn’t belong in Sunnyside, but what new buildings do belong in historic districts?


September 2013, Volume 10, Number 4

New/Old Housing Comes to Sunnyside Gardens?

Aluminaire House-proposal

The largest proposal in the history of the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District on the agenda to be heard at the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday, October 15. (It is on the agency agenda for 9/24/13 but the hearing will not be until 10/15/13). The proposal, which includes 8 units of new residential development and incorporates the historic 1931 Aluminaire House, is sited on the former Children’s Playground at 39th Avenue and 50th Street, across from the Phipps Apartments and possibly designed by Marjorie Cautley.

Understandably, there has been a great deal of community interest in the proposal and HDC hosted a presentation of it earlier this month.  So far, both the Community Board leadership and local Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer have gone on the record opposing the plan stating it’s “out of character with the neighborhood” and antithetical to the protected streetscapes of Sunnyside. “How can a house that in some ways resembles a spaceship be plopped down in the middle of this neighborhood?” asked Van Bramer. Additionally, a group of neighborhood residents have proposed an alternative plan to use the space as a community garden, harkening back to its original, historic usage as publicly-open community space. For more information about the project, we recommend the recent article in The New York Times: “In Queens, Now May Not Be Time for an Old House of the Future”.

HDC shares the community’s concern about the placement of the Aluminaire House in the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District and moreover, we questions some of the design choices made for the proposed new structures. Look for yourself at http://hdc.org/queens-2/aluminaire-house-proposal. If you have a comment, please send it along to comments@lpc.nyc.gov (and make sure to copy us!).

Above: the proposed design by Campani and Schwarting Architects



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question mark HDC Wants to Hear From You!

Despite what we feel about the Aluminaire proposal, dynamic contemporary architecture does have a strong place in historic neighborhoods. Communities across the city ranging from Riverdale in The Bronx to Stapleton on Staten Island feature examples where innovative design complements the existing context. As part of HDC’s ongoing research on these types of projects, HDC wants to know if you have a favorite new building in your neighborhood. If so, let us know! (The Aluminaire is an example of one which DOESN’T belong).

Email hdc@hdc.org with a high resolution image of the building and a brief description (no more than 200 words) on why you think this project is a good example of contemporary design integrated with historic resources. The building or project may include new building design within historic neighborhoods as well as additions to and alterations of historic buildings. Projects do not have to be located in historic districts to be considered and there is no set date range to be considered a new building.


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One Response to “E-BULLETIN- Aluminaire House doesn’t belong in Sunnyside, but what new buildings do belong in historic districts?”
  1. I take back my initial reaction. Great historical house, should be reassembled but not here.

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