HDC@LPC – Designation and Permit Testimony for Hearing on January 24, 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.


Designation Testimony 

Item 1

LP – 2591


The timeless quality of the Waldorf-Astoria’s interiors, was, until recently, taken for granted by many New Yorkers as something that would always be there. Today’s hearing marks a significant step toward ensuring that these spaces will be protected in perpetuity – that their timelessness will remain – and HDC is thrilled to testify in support of their designation.

When the sale of this building circulated in the media, many were shocked that these spaces were not already designated interior landmarks. Given its function as a hotel for national and international visitors, the protection of the Waldorf grew to be much greater than just a local issue – it became clear that people around the country and around the world love this building and support its preservation. HDC commends the Commission and staff for appropriately weighing the threat of this building’s sale and expeditiously calendaring and holding a public hearing to prevent the loss of an exquisite portrait of our city’s past.

These interiors were designed to be the utmost in hotel opulence in the world. 90 years later, they still evoke this level of grandeur and they survive remarkably intact, in part thanks to a major restoration in 1983. HDC supports the LPC’s assessment of the spaces and their connectivity, protecting the majority of the significant rooms and their corridors and finishes, as this level of craftsmanship will likely never be duplicated in our lifetimes. Highlights include the Park Avenue lobby and its “Wheel of Life” mosaic tile artwork, designed by the 1925 Paris Exposition showcase artist Louis Rigal and composed of 148,000 marble tiles from seven different countries; the Lexington Avenue Lobby and Peacock Alley, which features a clock from the Columbian Exposition of 1893; the Grand Ballroom, Astor and Jade ballrooms, which all retain their original, Art Deco finishes; the Basildon Room, whose finishes were imported from an 18th century country house in Berkshire, England and appropriated seamlessly; and the Silver room, whose wall-covered mirrors were inspired by Versaille’s Galerie des Glaces and which also includes Edward Simmons’ murals of the months and seasons, originally installed in the Astor Gallery in the former 1897 Waldorf on 5th Avenue.

Though not included within the boundaries of the proposed designation, HDC and other preservation groups advocated for the protection of the Starlight Roof on the 18th floor of the hotel. Original remaining features in this space are largely intact and include the Art Deco grille work ceiling, which originally retracted, allowing guests to dine and drink beneath the stars above Park Avenue, keeping cool in the summer months before the advent of air conditioning. There were several hotels in New York City that had similarly landscaped roofs, and many apartment buildings with architecturally designed roofs for the same purpose. The Starlight Roof permanently closed in 1950 to accommodate HVAC, but the room’s ceiling remains architecturally and culturally significant today. While HDC understands the rationale of its disjointed nature from the other spaces because of its high-floor situation, we hope thorough evaluations of this room’s historic resources were considered and that they will not be lost. Perhaps the LPC can work closely with the new owner to ensure that should this room become private, the incredible ceiling will not be destroyed.


Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

Item 1

16 Prospect Avenue – Douglaston Hill Historic District


A neo-Colonial house designed by Samuel Lindbloom and constructed in 1926. Application is to construct a rear yard addition.

Architect: Dadras Architects

Though the addition’s depth of roughly ten feet might be a modest “bump-out” dimension, the full-width, full-height configuration makes it very bulky. The solution might be to work on the massing, sculpting the addition in a different way to make it more responsive to the proposed interior program and to the well-considered design of the house itself. Breaking down the bulk of the addition with, perhaps, multiple roof profiles that are subsidiary to the ridge of the main house might be a more sensitive approach. We would also suggest that the addition’s side façades be reconsidered. The lack of detail makes the bump out appear haphazard and tacked on, when some amount of dimension or texture would make the addition more intentional. We also question the addition of the Palladian window, which is quite a grand gesture for this simple, neo-Colonial house.

LPC Determination: Approved


Item 5

126 Waverly Place – Greenwich Village Historic District


An apartment building designed by James Stewart Polshek and built in 1984. Application is to alter the ground floor and install storefronts.

Architect: Andrew Fredman Architect, LLC

Given the residential character of Waverly Place, the proposed storefront infill would represent a significant change, wrapping the commercial character of the Avenue around to the side street. While converting one of the existing bays into a show window might be an acceptable alteration, changing both bays to full-length windows without bulkheads would be an inappropriate intrusion. The building’s base was thoughtfully designed to have storefronts on the Avenue and not on the side street, and HDC feels that this intention should be honored.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications


Item 6

3 East 10th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District


A Romanesque Revival style townhouse designed by George E. Harney and built in 1890. Application is to alter the front and rear façades.

Architect: M Arch Architects

Without any historic precedent for shutters on this house – or on houses of this style – HDC finds little justification for their installation. Since they are not historically accurate, we ask the Commission to reject this aspect of the proposal. We do not have any objection to the changes in the rear.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications


Item 8

453 Broome Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District


A cast iron store building designed by Griffith Thomas and built in 1872-73. Application is to legalize the removal of vault lights and granite sidewalks in non-compliance with Certificate of No Effect 17-4254.

Architect: Sawicki Tarella Architecture + Design, PC

HDC finds no justification in this application for the removal of the vault lights and granite sidewalks at 453 Broome Street, and feels that the applicant should not be rewarded with an approval for this illegal work. Replacing deteriorated vault lights in kind can easily be done, and should have been done. Both the vault lights and the granite sidewalks are characteristic features of this historic district, and should not be treated as disposable. Further, HDC finds that since the Commission would surely not have approved this work in the first place, it should disapprove this application and ask for a restoration of this mutilated sidewalk.

LPC Determination: Approved


Continuing Education: Archaeology + The Landmarks Commission

The area now known as New York City has been a bustling urban center for centuries, and our streets are full of amazing artifacts as a result of this long history.

Archaeology + The Landmarks Preservation Commission

Thursday, February 16, 2017
9:00 am- 11:30 pm
2.5 AIA Approved LU/HSW Credits/ 2.5 NY State Licensing Credits
Excavation at NY City Hall.
The area now know as New York City has been a bustling city center for centuries. As a result of this very long history our streets are full of amazing artifacts. When required archaeology consultants are called in to assess and mitigate any archaeological finds. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) oversees all archaeology in New York City whether the site is located within a historic district or not.
Kelly Britt of Professional Archaeologists of New York City will outline the history of archaeology in New York City and explain the process of working with the LPC. Alyssa Loorya of Chrysalis Archaeology Consultants will explain the phases of regulatory required work including assessment, survey, excavation and forensic services.

Speakers are:

Alyssa Loorya- Chrysalis Archaeology Consultants, Inc.

Kelly Britt- Professional Archaeologists of New York City



Friends of HDC-$100

Includes continental breakfast



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

2.5 AIA Approved LU/HSW Credits/ 2.5 NY State Licensing Credits

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

Category: Archaeology, Architect Panel · Tags:

Waldorf-Astoria Has Had a Public Hearing !

The Waldorf-Astoria has been calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission! Thank You!

Please Don't Disturb the Art Deco


View the self-guided tour 


The Waldorf-Astoria had a Public Hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission on January 27, 2017.27 View our testimony

The Waldorf-Astoria has been officially calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission!


2. 301 Park Avenue – Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Interiors

Manhattan – Block 1304 – Lot 7501 CD: 5

Interior spaces on the Ground, First, Second and Third Floors in the Art Deco individual landmark skyscraper hotel built 1929-31, by Schultze and Weaver, with Lloyd Morgan, partner in charge.

On Tuesday, November 1, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote to calendar a number of publicly-accessible spaces in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for consideration as NYC Interior Landmarks.  The LPC will be considering:

The ground floor interior, consisting of

  • the Park Avenue vestibules and foyer
  • the Lexington Avenue vestibules and foyer

The first floor interior consisting of

  • the Park Avenue Lobby and colonnade,
  • West Lounge (formerly Peacock Alley)
  • West Elevator Lobby
  • Main Lobby
  • Main Lobby Hall
  • East Arcade
  • Lexington Avenue stairs and landing

The second floor interior consisting of

  • the Lexington Avenue stairs and landing

The third floor interior consisting of

  • the Lexington Avenue stairs and landing
  • the Grand Ballroom and balconies
  • Ballroom Entrance Hall (formerly Silver Gallery)
  • Ballroom Foyer
  • Basildon Room
  • Jade Room
  • Astor Gallery
  • foyer connecting the Jade Gallery and Astor Gallery with Lexington Avenue stairs


LPC is considering all the fixtures and interior components of these spaces, which may include but are not limited to the wall surfaces, ceiling surfaces and floor surfaces, murals, mirrors, chandeliers, lighting fixtures, attached furnishings, doors, exterior elevator doors and grilles, railings and balustrades, decorative metalwork and attached decorative elements.

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was bought by the Chinese corporation Anbang Insurance Group in 2014 for $1.95 billion. Anbang has announced that the majority of the hotel’s 1,300 hotel suites will be converted into residential units but the exact plans have not been made public leaving the hotel’s distinctive and glamorous ballrooms and lobbies to an uncertain fate.

HDC, along with our preservation allies, raised public concerns about the preservation of this distinctive New York space – and hosted a free self-guided tour of the hotel which was attended by over 300 people! Coincidentally, it was the same night at the hotel’s 85th Birthday celebration and preservationists had a merry time being chased by vigilant hotel security.  We also participated in a virtual tour of the interior spaces for Travel + Leisure Magazine led by our friends at the Art Deco Society of New York.

We’re thrilled that the LPC is taking this step to help protect this distinctive and quintessential New York icon. Thank you to everyone who wrote in and showed up – your voice matters and, with your support, sometimes we can have nice things!

The unthinkable has arrived: some of New York’s most opulent and sumptuous publicly-accessible interior spaces may soon vanish in the dust of renovation.

While the exterior is protected as an Individual Landmark, the Waldorf-Astoria’s fantastic interior hallways, lobby and ballrooms remain unprotected. The new owner of the storied skyscraper,  Anbang Insurance Group, plans to close the Waldorf-Astoria for three years and spend more than $1 billion gut-renovating the entire building for a condominium conversion, which will radically transform the famed hotel’s interior.

The 1931 masterpiece was designed and maintained to operate as the world’s premier hotel. While specific plans for the renovation have not been circulated, we are unfortunately certain that, without protection and appropriate oversight, any interior renovations to these grand spaces will certainly lead to diminution of design excellence and the destruction of original finishings that can never be replaced.

Please scroll down to view some photos of the lavish rooms, which HDC was able to access with ease, in order to share some of this treasure with you! We encourage you to make a visit, too. These exquisite spaces are all open to the public.

Don’t count on someone else to act – we need your help!

Please click here to send Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan a letter urging the Landmarks Preservation Commission to act swiftly and Calendar the Waldorf-Astoria. What’s here today may be gone tomorrow. HDC thanks our colleagues at the Art Deco Society of NY and the Landmarks Conservancy, who are also calling the world to action.

A copy of our letter (please click here to send yours):

I urge the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the interiors of the Waldorf-Astoria at 301 Park Avenue, Manhattan. These interiors were designed to be the utmost in hotel opulence and survive remarkably intact. A major restoration was undertaken in 1983. The rooms that need protection include the Park Avenue lobby, which includes the “Wheel of Life” mosaic tile artwork by the 1925 Paris Exposition showcase artist Louis Rigal, and is composed of 148,000 marble tiles from seven different countries; the Lexington Avenue Lobby and Peacock Alley, which features a clock from the Columbian Exposition of 1893; the Grand Ballroom, Astor and Jade ballrooms, all of which retain their original finishings; the Basildon Room with finishings imported from an 18th century country house in Berkshire, England; the Silver room, which is covered with mirrors, inspired by Versaille’s Galerie des Glaces, include Edward Simmons murals of the months and seasons, originally installed in the Astor Gallery in the original 1897 Waldorf on 5th Avenue; and the Starlight Roof, whose original remaining features are largely intact, including the Art Deco grille work ceiling, which originally retracted, allowing guests to dine and drink beneath the stars above Park Avenue before being permanently closed in 1950 to accommodate HVAC.  Original features abound throughout all of the major, publicly accessible rooms and corridors in this magnificent building, including Art Deco moldings, ceiling medallions, elaborate carved woodwork, marble pilasters, murals, grille work, railings, light fixtures, banisters, counter tops, door enframements and plaster work.

Don’t let the Waldorf-Astoria be destroyed on your administration’s watch. The Waldorf’s interiors are irreplaceable artworks which add to the glory of New York City and should be preserved for future generations of New Yorkers.

Category: Alert, LPC · Tags:

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

Posted by on Friday, January 13, 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

9 Pierrepont Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District


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


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


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


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


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


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , ,

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


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


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


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


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.



Item 8

77 Reade Street – TriBeCa South Historic District


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


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


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


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


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




Friends of HDC-$100

Includes continental breakfast


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 · 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

¡Trabaja con Nosotros! Beca para Hispanoparlantes:

El Consejo para los Distritos Históricos recién ha recibido financiamiento de parte del Gobernador Andrew Cuomo y del Consejo para las Artes del Estado de Nueva York para contratar un becario hispanoparlante a quien se le pagará para trabajar en la coordinación y organización de actividades educativas en comunidades bilingües de la Ciudad de Nueva York.

Esta oferta laboral está disponible para estudiantes de bachillerato que se han de graduar en la primavera del 2017 y también para aquellos que se hayan graduado anteriormente en el presente curso escolar.

El trabajo es pago y con cobertura completa de beneficios médicos y dentales. Los estudiantes de bachillerato con las cualificaciones debidas e interés en la arquitectura, la conservación del patrimonio construido, la historia de la ciudad de Nueva York ó el trabajo comunitario deben aplicar lo antes posible.

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.


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.



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.



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.


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:
334 West 20th Street:
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


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.

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
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
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
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
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:

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