AIA Continuing Education – When Must You Uncover the Past?

Continuing Ed. Archaeology – Historic Preservation Act and the State/City Environmental Quality Review Act

Friday, April 20th

10:00 am – 12:30 pm

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

2.5 AIA LU / HSW  / NY State Credits

The area now known 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 archaeological consultants are called in to assess and mitigate any archaeological finds. Federal, State and City laws, regulations established in 1966 require that any projects utilizing public funds consider what effect if any, the proposed action will have on all aspects of historic and/or cultural resources. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) oversees all archaeology in New York City whether the site is located within a historic district or not.

Alyssa Loorya of Chrysalis Archaeological Consultants will discuss the Federal, State and City laws and the practical phases of regulatory required work including assessment, survey, excavation and forensic services.

AIA

2.5 AIA LU / HSW / NY State Credits

Friends of HDC- $50

General Admission- $60

Students – $20 ( No AIA Credit)

 

 

 

Category: Archaeology, Architect Panel · Tags:

Testimony for the LPC Rules Amendment Hearing on March 27, 2018

The below text is the testimony delivered by HDC staff at the Public Hearing on March 27, 2018.  HDC’s full written testimony submitted to the LPC may be found here.

 

When dealing with historic properties, one must think about the effects of regulations not over years, but over decades. Therefore, HDC closely considered the potential long-term ramifications of this proposed change to the rules, and, while we believe that in some instances the proposed changes will have the desired effect of increasing efficiency and transparency, others should be approached with caution. We have also analyzed these rules with the foreknowledge that once adopted, they will most likely serve as a standard or specification for applicants proposing work on designated properties. In the interest of time, we will focus our testimony on those issues of which we feel the Landmarks Preservation Commissioners should be aware.

We have broken down our concerns into four categories, one statement for each: Unclear and Shifting Standards of Regulation, Substitute Materials, Major Changes and Visibility, and Miscellaneous Concerns.

 

Unclear and Shifting Standards of Regulation

The LPC is an agency of immense but limited power. On the one hand, it has the power to regulate private property at its own discretion and to its own self-ascribed standards. On the other hand, it can only regulate designated properties, which constitute 3.5% of the total properties in New York City. HDC is concerned about a drifting standard of regulation being inserted into the proposed rules, which actually diminishes the agency’s authority to oversee those rare properties it does regulate. Specifically:

 “Contributing” language: There are several instances of language, such as “if the building contributes to the landmark or historic district,” which is damaging to the integrity of the Landmarks Law and introduces a sliding scale of regulation. HDC surveyed the designation reports and found 717 buildings within all existing historic districts and extensions that are specifically listed as “no style” or “non-contributing” – roughly 2% of all landmark properties. There is no need to introduce ambiguity into all regulation in order to account for these few outliers. Furthermore, HDC understands that some buildings will be considered “non-contributing” if deemed so in previously-issued Certificates of Appropriateness. This would compound the sliding scale of regulation and further obscure the public’s understanding of the landmark regulation process. If this practice is instituted, and we strongly recommend that it is not, it needs to be properly defined, and a public method of determining the status of these buildings must be created.

“Characteristic of the Specific Historic District”: This language, which is used with reference to additions (p. 68) and fire escapes (p. 108), is an additional weakening of the Landmarks Law, especially in its lack of definition. Specific lists of which historic districts are characterized by certain features should be created, much the same way the historic districts with historic sidewalks and paving are listed.

 

Substitute Materials

Nationwide, practitioners agree that the best practice is to retain historic building materials or replace in kind, not just for aesthetic purposes, but for the physical preservation of buildings. This ethic is enshrined in the U.S. Secretary of Interior Standards for Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration and Reconstruction. While the LPC is not required to hew to those standards, it is imperative that the LPC requires the highest standard if it plans to forgo the guidance of the Commissioners. This is unfortunately not the case in many instances proposed in the rules. The only instance where HDC might countenance substitute materials would be the replication of a lost architectural feature proposed to be restored, excepting elements of a restorative program mandated by a Modification of Use or Bulk.

Concerning architectural elements (p. 27-28), we are opposed to the installation of substitute materials above the sixth story for masonry buildings, above the second floor for discrete elements on cast-iron buildings, above the sixth floor for other elements on cast-iron buildings, and to the use of fiberglass in place of sheet metal and iron above the sixth story and as a replacement for elaborate wood cornices above the second story. In-kind replacements should be the standard; these locations would be too visible from the public way; and sheet metal cornices are readily available, lightweight, and more durable than fiberglass.

Concerning windows (p. 58-60), the proposed would allow sweeping replacement of wood windows with aluminum on smaller buildings, even though it is well-established in preservation practice that aluminum windows are an inferior and short-performing product compared with wood. If removed, there will no longer be a precedent for wood windows to ever return. For larger buildings, windows may be replaced if they match in configuration, operation, details and finish, but materiality is omitted. HDC is concerned that large buildings with steel casement windows or other specialized windows endemic to an architectural style will be allowed to replace them with inferior windows, resulting in the loss of crucial historic details and profiles.

Concerning sidewalks (p. 89), if a sidewalk is missing some of its bluestone pavers or some are beyond repair, an applicant may consolidate the usable stone and install tinted concrete in the remaining area. Bluestone or granite curbs in need of repair may also be replaced with concrete. This rule would remove all incentive for applicants to ever replace in-kind. Looking to the future, as these historic materials inevitably deteriorate, historic paving would be a thing of the past. Vault lights (p. 91), a defining feature of former manufacturing districts, would also be in grave peril, as staff may approve the removal of up to two panels of exposed vault lights that are deteriorated, if no other vault lights exist on the block, and replace them with diamond plate steel or concrete/granite. For covered vault lights that are deteriorated, applicants can either replace them with new vault lights or remove them altogether. Given the cost differential, the public would now have to rely on the owner’s discretion to safeguard this feature. HDC believes this should fall within the mission of this public agency.

 

Major Changes & Visibility

As this Commission knows, landmark properties are constantly being altered. it is important, however, to be aware of the public perception that changes to landmarks are not permitted, and if they are, they are minimal. This perception, while not quite accurate, helps to temper expectations and deters applicants from proposing massively inappropriate changes. Setting a high standard that additions be invisible reinforces public expectations and encourages public faith in the security of historic buildings. Unfortunately, many of the proposed rules loosen oversight over historic properties in allowing more visible change to happen.

Concerning rear yard additions (p. 71-72), increasing the scope of permissible construction in the rear will have a substantial impact on historic blocks. Under the new rules, a rear yard addition would be permitted for blocks where the “majority” of buildings include els or additions, and cannot project deeper or taller than those existing accumulations. We suggest that the staff base its decision about a new addition on the configuration of historic els and LPC-approved additions, not grandfathered ones. Also, allowing construction to cover an entire rear yard with the exception of five feet is an enormous building footprint directly at odds with the LPC’s criteria of “does not substantially diminish the presence of a rear yard”. A block’s interior is an important quality-of-life issue for residents, many of whom choose to live in a designated area for the historic rear yard amenity, so the neighbors should not be cut out of the review process.

Concerning storefronts (p. 35), the proposed states that new storefront infill is allowed if the design is based on historic “prototypes.” HDC believes that such prototypes should be based on historic photographs that reveal the original storefront’s configuration. In cases where photographs cannot be found, the features of historic storefronts should be codified in the rules, such as requiring the presence of bulkheads, transoms, and a recessed or splayed entryway.

Concerning window openings (p. 64), HDC is concerned about the rules providing a prescriptive design for rear façade treatments. We firmly believe that properties under LPC regulation generally benefit from public and Commission comments, with better-designed outcomes for proposed work. Creating a loose design blueprint may encourage repeated, banal interventions. Similar to our critique of the storefront prototype, HDC suggests creating more parameters or prototypes for rear facades, or doing away with this basic one.

Concerning HVAC units (p. 102), the proposed would allow staff to approve through-wall HVAC equipment centered below window openings on primary facades of large buildings in historic districts. This means that a tenant in a large apartment building – a very common typology – may apply to punch a hole beneath their window without public review, even if it is visible from the public way. HDC believes that such incursions, even if no decorative or significant features are damaged or removed, should not be allowed without a hearing. At the very least, applicants should be required to apply for a Master Plan to avoid a pock-marked effect on the building, and such installations on primary façades should be limited to the upper stories.


Miscellaneous Concerns

Excavations and Archaeology: One of the few sweeping powers of the LPC is its authority as the local lead agency for archaeological matters. Archaeology is an important tool for understanding our history and can illuminate aspects of our city’s development that would otherwise be invisible and forgotten. Currently, archaeological supervision is only activated by publicly-funded excavation projects. However, excavation of private property, undertaken by private entities, is equally likely to impact potentially significant buried cultural resources as projects utilizing public funds. With this goal in mind, HDC suggests the following ideas be incorporated into Section 2-16 (p. 73):

  • Private properties within historic districts should be subject to all historic preservation laws including archaeological guidelines.
  • With regard to archaeological resources that may be exposed during any excavation, their potential significance is not known until they are exposed. Private properties that are subject to consideration of architectural preservation standards and guidelines should also be subject to consideration of potential archaeological resources during excavation-related activities.
  • If archaeological resources are exposed during the excavation of private properties, the property owner should be required to inform the LPC. In turn, the LPC should develop guidelines to make an assessment of potential significance and documentation of the exposed resources.

Permit Renewals (p. 123): The proposed would allow a Certificate of Appropriateness to be extended for three years after its initial term of six years – for a maximum allowance of nine years. CofAs originally had no expiration date, which led to unfortunate situations such as the Plaza Hotel, where permits for alteration of the dormers issued in the 1980s were still valid 20 years later, despite changes in ownership and programmatic use. As the NYC mayoral term is limited to eight years, this would mean that all CofAs would perforce outlast the Commission that issued them. This is not the most accountable practice, to either the public or the Commissioners. We strongly recommend omitting this change.

Public Notification: There is broad concern about lack of public involvement in the LPC’s permitting process. We are fully aware that bringing the more than 13,000 permit requests the agency receives annually to public hearings would paralyze the agency and cause undue hardship for applicants. But because people who have an interest and are invested in New York City’s landmarks and historic districts wish to know what is being proposed, we strongly encourage the LPC to make staff-level permit applications available in some way for public review. While this might sound like a bridge too far, this service would have the added public benefits of increasing understanding, encouraging participation, and strengthening investment in the landmarks process. We suggest that the LPC look at how the Department of Buildings deals with these types of permits through the Development Challenge Process, which provides an opportunity for the public to review submitted plans before approval and challenge them if felt necessary. This triggers a further review by DOB staff and, if necessary, the Building Borough and First Deputy Commissioners. Obviously this system would need to be adapted to the Landmarks Permitting Process, but it would be a worthwhile avenue of consideration.

 

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Public Hearing on March 27, 2018

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.

On March 27th, the Commission will vote on whether to designate four Individual Landmarks (Richard Webber Harlem Packing House, Public School 109, Benjamin Franklin High School and the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh). The Commission will also hold a hearing about proposed changes to the Rules.  See our testimony about the Rules change here.

 

Item 3

295 Clinton Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1921631

A neo-Gothic style apartment building designed by the Cohn Brothers and built in 1927. Application is to remove finials

The finial appears in both the historic photographs and the lovely historic sketch provided with this application. Since it is an original feature of this building and would be easily replaced in kind, HDC had a hard time understanding the rationale for removing it. It is such small details that give buildings like these their charm, and we ask that the Commission require that this one be restored.

Item 5

2 East 67th Street – Upper East Side Historic District 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920395

A neo-Italian Renaissance style apartment building designed by Rosario Candela and built in 1927-28. Application is to install a balcony and lighting.

Rosario Candela clearly placed these balconies at the ninth floor as an intentional point of interest. Inserting another one at a random location elsewhere on the building would be an oddity, especially with the addition of lighting to draw even more attention to it. HDC opposes such a gesture, as it would take attention away from the design intent of the ninth floor balconies and clutter the building unnecessarily.

Item 6

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920028

A neo-Renaissance style apartment building with Romaneque style elements, designed by Gronenberg and Leuchtag, and built 1930-31. Application is to replace windows.

As we often do, HDC advocates for the original window material and configuration for this handsome apartment building on one of the finest blocks of the Upper West Side. Perhaps the building could consider a Master Plan to work its way back toward rolled steel casement windows, which are both readily available and value added in terms of longevity and aesthetic appropriateness.

 

HDC’s Comprehensive Analysis of LPC Rules

Posted by on Friday, March 23, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

Please continue reading for our testimony regarding the latest LPC Rules change under consideration.

The Historic Districts Council (HDC) reviews every public proposal affecting New York City’s landmarks and historic districts and provides testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) whenever it is needed.

Please continue reading for our testimony regarding the latest Rules change under consideration by the Commission. 


Although they are regarded as being of mainly technical interest to the general public, replacement materials for historic buildings are among the most important aspects of preservation work. The materials which constitute our historic buildings are what give these sites their significance and resonant power. Whenever historic fabric is missing, in proper preservation practice, great pains are made to replicate the missing elements to retain or restore the historic design intent. This is the basic requirement of historic preservation as it has been practiced in the United States since its emergence as an ethic more than 100 years ago. Questions of differentiating replacement materials from original finishes for repair work have been debated by professionals for decades and will probably never reach universal consensus, however, all practitioners agree that the best practice in working with historic structures is to retain historic materials or, with very few exceptions, replace them in kind. This practice is enshrined in the U.S. Secretary of Interior Standards for Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration and Reconstruction. While the Landmarks Preservation Commission is not required to hew to those standards, they are a good starting place especially if the project being reviewed does not go through a public review process. Materials on a historic building are meant to last a long time, and inappropriate replacement materials can mar a structure for decades. It is imperative that the LPC requires the highest standard if it plans to forgo the expert and discretionary guidance of the Commissioners. This is unfortunately not the case in many instances proposed in the new rules:

EXAMPLES

  • Page 27 (1) General criteria for replacement materials

Generally, HDC finds the relatively lax approach to replacement materials to be problematic. As the nation’s premier and largest regulatory body of historic properties, it is a missed opportunity to not require higher standards for our built environment, especially in the most expensive real estate market in the United States, where cost and burden are not significant factors to preservation. In an economically depressed city, replacement materials could potentially make more sense, as their cheaper cost could help encourage investment in and revitalization of historic structures. However, in New York, it should not be permissible to sully our historic buildings with plastic applications and it certainly should not be encouraged with a staff-level permit. LPC must encourage the use of quality materials, not just for aesthetic purposes, but for the long-term physical preservation of buildings. It is well known that inferior materials have to be replaced and do not have comparable life spans to authentic materials. Over the long-term, requiring quality materials will eliminate work for the LPC staff, as quality materials almost always have life spans exponentially greater than inferior replacement products. The only instances where HDC might countenance substitute materials being approved without Commissioner oversight would be the replication of a lost architectural feature that is proposed to be restored. It is important to note that this lesser standard would not be acceptable as an element of a restorative program mandated by a Modification of Use or Bulk (under Section74-711). For those special permits, only the highest quality work and materials should be allowed.

  • Page 27 (A) Masonry buildings: Staff can approve replacement materials above the 6th floor, which will affect all work to skyscrapers, and historic districts characterized by large buildings, such as the Upper West and Upper East Side, TriBeca, Noho, Soho and the Downtown Brooklyn Skyscraper district.

 

  • Page 27 (C) Cast iron buildings: above the 2nd floor for discrete elements; rest: above the 6th floor. Given the inherent age and finite stock of cast-iron buildings in New York, in-kind replacements should be the standard for these buildings’ longevity.

 

 

Windows
Sidewalks

Major Changes & Visibility

Landmark properties in New York City are constantly being altered. Every year, the LPC issues over 13,000 permits for work, which is impressive when one considers the agency only oversees around 36,000 properties. In this churn of change, it is important to be aware of the public perception that landmark buildings are not permitted to change, and if they are, those changes are minimal. While this public perception is not quite accurate, it is helpful to preservation goals overall as it tempers expectations for what is allowed for historic buildings. Keeping high expectations for permitted work deters applicants from proposing massively inappropriate changes that the LPC would be forced to deny even at a public hearing. As denials of proposals tend to lead to public frustrations with government oversight, it benefits the LPC to set a very high standard for allowable additions and alterations that are permitted without public review. Setting a high standard that additions be invisible reinforces the public expectation that additions are the exception, not the rule, and encourages public faith in the security of historic buildings – that what a property owner purchases is what they get. Unfortunately, many of the proposed rules loosen oversight over historic properties in allowing more visible change to happen without public review, rather than strengthening the standards of what can be allowed at staff level.

EXAMPLES

Additions

 

Storefronts
Window openings
HVAC

Unclear and Shifting Standards of Regulation

The LPC is an agency of immense but limited power. On one hand, it has the power to regulate private property within its own discretion and to its own self-ascribed standards. On the other hand, it can only regulate designated landmark properties, which are 3.5% of the total properties in New York City. The agency has no power over any other properties regardless of their age or historic significance. Additionally, the LPC only has authority over the physical form of the structure and not its use or function. HDC is very concerned about a drifting standard of regulation being inserted into the proposed rules, which actually diminishes the agency’s authority to oversee those rare properties it does regulate. Specifically:

EXAMPLES

 

Miscellaneous Concerns

Excavations and Archaeology

One of the few sweeping powers of the Landmarks Preservation Commission is its authority as the local lead agency for archaeological matters. Archaeology is an important tool for understanding our history and can illuminate aspects of our city’s development that would be otherwise invisible and forgotten. Although they have shared goals, archaeological techniques differ from preservation techniques in that they are more focused on documentation and understanding than on the physical retention of historic fabric in situ. Currently, archaeological supervision is only activated by publicly-funded excavation projects. However, excavation of private property, undertaken by private entities, is equally likely to impact potentially significant buried cultural resources as projects utilizing public funds. This has been demonstrated in multiple instances in New York City. With this goal in mind, HDC suggests the following language and ideas to be incorporated into page 73, Section 2-16:

 

 

Permit Renewals

In HDC’s review of the proposed rules changes, we noticed that certain of the technical aspects of the permits are being altered, such as their duration. This is not the first time they have been altered – Certificates of Appropriateness originally had no expiration date, which led to unfortunate situations such as the Plaza Hotel, where permits for alteration of the dormers issued in the 1980’s were still valid 20 years later despite several changes in ownership and programmatic use.

On page 123, in Section 7-03, (2)ii, it is proposed that a Certificate of Appropriateness be allowed to be extended for an additional 3 years after its initial term of 6 years – for a maximum allowance of 9 years validity without public review. As the NYC mayoral term is limited to 8 years, this would mean that all CofAs would perforce outlast the Commission which issued them. This doesn’t seem to us to be the most accountable practice, to either the public or the Landmarks Commissioners. We strongly recommend that CofAs expire after 6 years, at which point they should be required to go for a public hearing for a renewal.

Public Notification

There is broad concern about lack of public involvement in the LPC’s permitting process. As landmark designation is a public good which serves the public trust, this is a concern which the Historic Districts Council feels warrants attention and, where possible, amelioration. At the same time, we are fully aware that bringing the more than 13,000 permit requests the agency receives annually to public hearings would paralyze the agency and cause undue hardship for applicants. Based on what we hear from our constituents and neighborhood partners, much of the concern is about transparency and expectation. Simply put, people who have an interest in and are invested with New York City’s landmarks and historic districts wish to know what is being proposed for their future.

With this in mind, we would strongly encourage the LPC’s continued efforts to increase transparency by making permit applications available for review by the public. It is a valuable service and an important one to encourage the better public understanding of the landmarks process. Furthermore, in order to both encourage public participation in the process and strengthen public investment in that process, we would recommend that the LPC investigate the possibility of incorporating some level of public review into staff-level permits. While this might sound like a bridge too far, we would suggest that the Landmarks Commission look at the how the Buildings Department deals with these types of permits through the Development Challenge Process. In this process, there is an opportunity for the public to review submitted plans before approval and challenge them if felt necessary. This triggers a further review by Buildings professional staff and, if necessary, the Building Borough and First Deputy Commissioners. Obviously this system would need to be adapted to the Landmarks Permitting Process, but we believe that it would be a worthwhile avenue of consideration for the agency.

Category: Featured, Landmarks Preservation Commission · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Public Hearing on March 20, 2018

Posted by on Monday, March 19, 2018 · 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 4

140 Broadway – Individual Landmark – Marine Midland Building

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920734

A mid-20th century modern style office tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and built in 1964-68. Application is to install planters, paving and lighting at the plaza.

HDC gives credit where it’s due and we commend the applicant for responding to much public outcry and making significant changes from what was originally proposed. We feel that the changes are also an improvement to the existing conditions and are in the spirit of the original mid-century design concept. This masterful Modernist plaza will once again read as a spare composition, as originally intended.


Item 5

62 Thomas Street – TriBeCa West Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1914629

A Gothic Revival style store and loft building built in 1863-64. Application is to install louvers, doors and a canopy.

While the renderings provided show the proposed light fixtures (spotlights oriented on columns) to be invisible, HDC would like to ensure that they are recessed inside the iron. We object to installations being visible on the façade and insist that the installations are hidden from sight, as they are quite large.


Item 6

357 Canal Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1921071

A store and loft building designed by W.T. Beers, built in 1855, and altered in 1866. Application is to replace windows.

HDC implores the LPC to require the return of the original paired arched windows that we see remaining on the building. These windows, stylistically, are consistent with the rare style of Early Romanesque Revival and, if they are not original to 1855, they may be original to 1866 when the building was extended another story. With the introduction of the Romanesque Revival style in the 1850s, simple features like rounded arch windows evoked a picturesque nature, which eventually evolved into the more monumental, rough cut ashlar and heavy masonry that the style became famous for in the 1870s. Windows of this design can be found on the application the Commission just previously reviewed, at 62 Thomas Street (constructed 1864) and even more elaborately at the individually landmarked Flushing Town Hall (constructed 1862). In fact, the distinctive, tubular-shaped brick molds found at 357 Canal Street are identical to the brick mold application at Flushing.

Thus, these Special Windows are of their era. All of this being said, these windows would not be difficult to replicate for a very important reason: they are flat-headed, which eliminates the more complicated manufacturing process of creating a rounded arch window head. As the applicant is already proposing quality wooden windows, HDC believes that restoring these stylized windows would not be a much heavier lift. Restoring this feature will tremendously enhance this building’s curb appeal and architectural interest, and it is a treasure that these fashionable Civil War era windows have survived.


Item 8

6th Avenue and Waverly Place – Greenwich Village Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1915675

Southwest corner of 6th Avenue and Waverly Place. Application is to install a newsstand at the sidewalk.

HDC prefers the four by ten foot option for the newsstand for this location. This is due to the presence of two different sidewalks; the larger newsstand will straddle both the normal sidewalk and the decorative sidewalk. Aesthetically it makes more sense to occupy one type of paving, which the smaller newsstand does.


Item 9

1065 Park Avenue – Park Avenue Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1913316

A Modern style apartment building designed by Stephen C. Lyras and built in 1969-73. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future installation of windows.

HDC appreciates that this building will adopt a window master plan which will regularize the façade(s) of this very large building. However, we would like to note that the building’s modern style will lose its sleek appearance and look clunky with the increased width of the window frames. HDC suggests that the Landmark Commission ask for the framing to be less exaggerated and choose a thinner frame which won’t diminish its Modern aesthetic.


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Public Hearing on March 13, 2018

Posted by on Monday, March 12, 2018 · 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

135 Montague Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1917747

A commercial building built in the 1920s. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and alter the rear façade.

HDC finds the proposed addition to be complementary in its design and appreciates the proposed use of quality materials, but we would suggest that the applicant set the addition back a bit more – perhaps three feet or so – to further differentiate the addition and avoid crowding the balustrade at the top of the building.

LPC determination: No action

 

Item 2

203 Washington Park – Fort Greene Historic District 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1912045

An Italianate style house designed by Thanas Skelly and built c. 1865. Application is to construct a rooftop bulkhead, install railings, planters, and benches, and extend a flue and vents.

To avoid visibility from Fort Greene Park, we would suggest that the bulkhead be sloped down and possibly reduced and simplified; as it doesn’t need that much enclosed space for its given function.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 5

52 Thomas Street – TriBeCa South Historic District 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918781

A simplified neo-Classical style store and office building designed by Jardine, Hill and Murdock and built in 1927-1928. Application is to install rooftop mechanical equipment.

HDC finds that the equipment is quite visible, and creates an odd saw-tooth effect when viewed from the street. We would therefore suggest that the equipment be set farther back, screened and/or grouped more closely together in order to mitigate its impact.

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 6

622 Broadway – NoHo Historic District 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918102

A neo-Grec style store and loft building designed by Henry Fernbach and built in 1880-82. Application is to install rooftop mechanical equipment and screen.

HDC had a hard time discerning how visible the equipment would be, so we urge the commission to ask for more information regarding mockup photos, specifically taken from the roof in order to have a better understanding of the expected visibility and to ensure that the proposed changes are minimal.

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 9

768 Fifth Avenue – Plaza Hotel – Individual Landmark and Interior Landmark 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1916515

A French Renaissance style hotel, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and built in 1905-1907, with an addition designed by Warren & Wetmore and built in 1921. Application is to legalize the installation of light fixtures in the ballroom and exterior heaters, HVAC units and a display box without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s); legalize the construction of a penthouse and the installation of a storefront in non-compliance with Certificate of Appropriateness 06-2975; and replace garage doors.

While each of the proposed legalizations may seem small, the cumulative impact of the scheme would cheapen the grandness of this iconic Individual Landmark. It would behoove the present owners to honor the previous LPC approvals for changes to this building, rather than making minor tweaks that do little to rectify the situation. HDC asks the Commission to require that the applicant install the garage doors that were previously approved and to deny the proposed storefront design. The sign band appears too clunky and the proportions are still not quite right. Regarding the heaters on the ground level, we would suggest that the applicant investigate a temporary or seasonal solution, such as standing heaters on the sidewalk, and that the applicant hire a mechanical engineer to find a better solution for the HVAC unit on the roof. The roofline of this building is too important to host accretions such as this, no matter what the paint color.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 11

2012 Broadway – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #198512

A Beaux-Arts style apartment building designed by Mulliken & Moeller and built in 1904-1905, and altered in the early 20th century with a commercial ground floor. Application is to alter the base and install storefront infill.

HDC questions the proposed materials for this new storefront, and would suggest that the applicant perform a probe to determine if the limestone present elsewhere at the base of the building is extant. If so, the most appropriate scheme would incorporate the existing limestone. If not, new limestone that matches the existing would be a far better approach than the use of ceramic material, which clashes with the story above.

LPC determination: No action

 

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on March 6, 2018

Posted by on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 · 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.

Designation Testimony

Item 1

LP – 2598

BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN

THE DIME SAVINGS BANK OF WILLIAMSBURGH, 209 Havemeyer Street

In a neighborhood sorely lacking in landmark designations and which has experienced rapid change – even by New York City standards – the recognition and protection of the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh would be a welcome action. The neo-Classical structure already reads as a local landmark, with its robust temple front, Indiana limestone façades and intact decorative elements. It is remarkable that this building has managed to remain standing in spite of massive redevelopment aided by the city’s rezoning of this neighborhood, and we are glad to see that achievement institutionalized through the safeguarding of its future. HDC is happy to endorse the landmark designation of the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh.


Item 2

LP – 2608

BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN

MAURICE T. LEWIS HOUSE, 5501 4th Avenue

The Historic Districts Council is astonished with the swift action the LPC took to calendar this building only two weeks ago. We are elated to be able to testify on this property today, which we identified in 2013 in our Six to Celebrate brochure of Sunset Park. The community group we worked with that year, the Sunset Park Landmarks Committee, is also here today and we thank them for closely monitoring their neighborhood and discovering the imminent threat to this mansion, and we thank the Commission for acting so fast to prevent destruction. There are many changes occurring in southern Brooklyn, and we greatly look forward to Sunset Park being designated as an official New York City historic district, it cannot come soon enough. In this vein, we urge the Commission to look to neighboring areas of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, both of which have called on the LPC this past year for protection of their historic resources.

Dr. Maurice Lewis graduated from Long Island College Hospital in 1892 and practiced medicine for forty years. Later in his life, he became the president of the Bay Ridge Savings Bank. Under his leadership, at least two, limestone bank branches were constructed in Brooklyn. Not by coincidence, an imposing, neo-classical branch was erected at the end of his block at 54th and 5th Avenues. Today, Dr. Lewis’s legacy continues to bookend 54th Street with the presence of these prominent and stately buildings at each corner. With such wealth, it is no surprise that Dr. Lewis erected the only mansion in this neighborhood, which is otherwise characterized by rowhouses and tenements. This Renaissance Revival brick mansion with a rusticated limestone base was designed by Harde & Short, a prestigious firm that was also responsible for many grand apartment houses, including the fanciful, terra-cotta-adorned Alwyn Court on Seventh Avenue and West 58th Street in Manhattan. The building survives intact, and we are thrilled that this corner of the neighborhood will survive.

We hope that this designation preserves and safeguards this corner and stately mansion, as opposed to being swallowed by out of scale development which is occurring to the individually landmarked 68th Precinct and stable at 43rd Street in Sunset Park.


Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

Item 3

150 Remsen Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918419

An apartment house designed by Oscar Silvertone and built in 1936. Application is to alter the areaway and install a barrier-free access lift.

HDC finds this access lift to be a very significant alteration and visual obstruction to the façade and streetscape. We would ask that the applicant consider a free standing rail without a cement wall and explore other solutions for ADA access, such as the possible installation of a LU/LA type lift to one side of the stairwell. Our committee would also like to point out that there’s seems to be enough frontage for a ramp.

LPC determination: NO ACTION


Item 5

35 South Portland Avenue – Fort Greene Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918911

An Italianate style rowhouse built in c. 1867. Application is to replace windows and enlarge window openings.

The new interior program of this house is driving the fenestration changes on the rear, resulting in a clumsy composition. The most problematic element of this rear façade is the second story, where two window openings have been expanded. These two windows have zero relationship with neither the punched openings above them, nor the expanse of glass and a bay window below them. This façade lacks a visual coherence and should be reconfigured.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 6

208-212 Decatur Street – Bedford Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #191191

A flats building with a store designed by Alfred S. Beasley and built c. 1897. Application is to reconstruct the garage, raise the parapets, and install a curb cut.

Overall, HDC finds this approach to be an improvement to the existing garage but suggest that the applicant add more architectural interest to the design. In the proposal, the applicant shows a number of other garages in the vicinity which have attractive features which benefit the streetscape. HDC suggests the applicant take cues from garages at 300 and 329 Stuyvesant Street, which they included in their packet. HDC believes small changes would further finesse this proposal, such as the addition of folding doors, the inclusion of a cornice or adding corbelling.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 8

137 West 13th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1919946

An altered Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1845. Application is to construct rear yard and rooftop additions, excavate the rear yard, and replace the windows and door.

This rear yard extension should be composed in brick, which would be far more attractive than what is currently proposed. Limestone is an inappropriate material for a Greek Revival rowhouse in Greenwich Village.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 10

230 Thompson Street – South Village Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1919020

A Renaissance Revival style tenement building with a commercial ground floor designed by Sass & Smallheiser and built in 1903. Application is to replace storefront infill.

230 Thompson Street was built as a pair with number 234, and both are visible in the tax photo. Unfortunately, much of the storefront of the subject building is obscured in the tax photo. HDC compared the tax photo of the storefront at 234 to what is there now, and it matches. Since these buildings are twins, HDC believes the best course of action for storefront infill at 230 is to match the historic storefront configuration which exists next door on its sister building. The proposed storefront, by comparison, appears clunky. If the applicant is unable to replicate the condition next door, it should at least follow its profiles and proportions.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 12

1141 Park Avenue – Carnegie Hill Extension Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920173

A neo-Grec style flats building designed by John Sullivan and built in 1884-85. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and elevator bulkhead, replace windows, and relocate and alter ground floor entrances.

Prior to 1872, Fourth Avenue was dominated by locomotives, which eclipsed residential development uptown. 1141 Park is one of a handful of surviving buildings resulting from the 1872 Fourth Avenue Improvement Scheme, which buried the New York Central Railroad tracks beneath the avenue and therefore spurred real estate development in the form of rowhouses, tenements and flats. This pre-Park Avenue survivor was, indeed, a flats building, and the applicant is trying to convert a multiple dwelling into a townhouse. A key clue of this building’s former identity as a flats building is the presence of its entry on Park Avenue. HDC strongly discourages the removal of the door on Park Avenue and erasing history. It instead should be retained it as a vestige of this building’s former life.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 14

100 West 119th Street – Mount Morris Park Extension Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1915230

A Beaux Arts style apartment building built c. 1900. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future installation of windows.

There is evidence that the corner of this building had curved glass windows originally. Since this is a master plan, HDC strongly encourages the restoration of this feature so that moving forward; this building will achieve its original corner prominence. One of the benefits of landmarking is that incrementally, lost features return to buildings which did not survive completely intact. The Normandie has recovered its cornice, which was missing in the 1980 photograph, and these windows are a final element which will restore the building’s grandeur.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 15

633 West 155th Street – West 156th Street – Audubon Terrace Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920023

A plaza within a complex of neo-Renaissance style buildings designed by William Mitchell Kendall and built in 1921. Application is to modify a stair and balustrades and install planters and seating at the terrace.

The formal symmetry of this plaza was established prior to the construction of Church of Our Lady of Esperanza. After the church was built, the stairway became partially obstructed by the façade of the church. Despite this sightline, the stairway’s location in the upper plaza bisects and is in relation to this space. If this stairway is moved to correct the appearance of the lower plaza, it will jeopardize the symmetry of the upper plaza. As this plaza was designed prior to the construction of the church, HDC strongly advises to keep the stairs where they are and therefore preserve the intended, formal experience of entering the upper plaza. More traditional design and materials should be explored in terms of the bench. Other Beaux Arts campuses, like Columbia University, could be explored to see how the treatment of benches in these types of spaces works best.

LPC determination: Approved

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

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on February 20, 2018

Posted by on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 · 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.

Designation Testimony

Item 1

LP – 2602

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN

HOTEL SEVILLE, 22 East 29th Street

This building was suggested as a possible landmark in a 2007 survey of the area which HDC produced. That survey had the goal of extending the Madison Square North Historic District, which the LPC has, as yet, declined to designate despite the proposal’s merit and strong public support. We are grateful that the Commission is taking some action in this area, and strongly support this designation.

The former Hotel Seville replaced the former Scottish Rite Hall, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. After 1900, the Madison Square area hotels grew in size to accommodate customers desiring close proximity to Ladies’ Mile and entertainment such as that offered at Madison Square Garden. This elegant Beaux-Arts hotel, whose architect was a prominent proponent of the style in America and who trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, was one such large hotel. Originally, it opened with 425 rooms in various appointments. Its red brick and limestone façades are graced with a rusticated base, alternating bandcourses at the second and third stories, decorative cornices, rounded copper bays from the fourth to the tenth stories and a limestone-clad chamfered corner, all mixed with Modern French ornamentation, such as lion head cartouches. An annex between 28th and 29th Streets was added a few years after its construction.

As an interesting link in history, HDC’s own Barbara Zay’s lineage can be traced to the Hotel Seville, where her antecedants called home for most of the early 20th century. Her ancestors, the Eimer family, owned Eimer & Amend, a substantial chemical and drug firm in a (now demolished) building located on 3rd Avenue and 18th Street.


Item 2

LP – 2602

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN

THE EMMET BUILDING, 95 Madison Avenue

Like the Hotel Seville, this is another building which HDC identified as meritorious in our Madison Square North survey, and we are excited to testify today on its designation. We sincerely hope that the LPC can pursue more buildings in this area, which has a veritable stock of ornamented, early 20th century skyscrapers equally deserving of landmark status.

The Emmet Building was constructed for Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet, a prominent physician and advocate for Irish independence. An outspoken critic of English occupation of Ireland, he was the grand-nephew of the famous Irish patriot Robert Emmet, who was hanged, drawn and quartered by the English in Dublin in 1803 for inciting an uprising. Dr. Emmet lived in a succession of houses on this site for over 40 years, but commissioned the 15-story office building due to observed changes in the neighborhood, especially the construction of the Metropolitan Life Tower in 1909. This striking French Renaissance Revival style building is clad in terra-cotta and features elaborate Gothic Revival ornament. Early designs of the building included the Emmet family crest, which features three bulls’ heads. In its final design iteration, the crests were removed but bulls’ heads exist at the building’s termination, a permanent homage to the legacy of the Emmet family.

Upon his death, Dr. Emmet’s will professed that “in justice, England must someday become a province of Ireland…this provision shall be published as my last words to the Irish people, to whose welfare I have devoted the study and work of a lifetime.” Dr. Emmet left his extensive book collection to the American-Irish Historical Society & Notre Dame University and died in his home in 1919, in the top floor of this building.


Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

Item 2

43 Willow Place – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918870

A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1846. Application is to modify the rear façade and roof, construct a rear yard addition, and excavate a portion of the rear yard.

43 Willow Place is a part of Brooklyn’s “Colonnade Row,” a row of four, rare surviving Greek Revival houses built together in 1846. The only thing more remarkable than these buildings’ mere survival is that they exist completely intact. The proposed rear yard extension for no. 43 will be the first major alteration to this row since their construction and should augment the building. While the building next door sensitively and discreetly excavated to daylight their basement floor, this intervention is quite large by comparison. As this is such an important row, HDC would like to see examples in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood where this amount of excavation was appropriate. Further, we would like to understand the rationale for the banal rear façade treatment, particularly the large expanses of glass railings, and hear how it could possibly be appropriate to the Brooklyn Heights Historic District.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 3

188 Prospect Park West – Park Slope Extension Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920459

A neo-Renaissance style movie theater designed by Harrison G. Wiseman and Magnuson & Kleinert Associates and built c. 1928. Application is to replace storefront infill, seal a masonry opening, and install signage and poster boxes.

Echoing our testimony about the building next door, HDC lauds this proposal and what it seeks to achieve: preserving this iconic corner of Brooklyn and the entrance to Prospect Park in its built form, without expanding and mutating the architecture. The proposed changes to this building essentially un-do all of the poor alterations from decades past and regularizes the façade. We applaud the retention of the marquis and the signage is absolutely appropriate. We are in awe that this building will once again function as its intended, original use as a theater and we wish Nitehawk all the success in this new location. We thank them for proving that occupying a landmark building does not have to mean the building has to go away or be altered in a terrible way, as previously proposed last year.

LPC determination: Approved

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , , ,

Continuing Education – Accessible Historic Streetscapes

Posted by on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

2.5 AIA / NY State credits | March 22, 2018 | 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. |  232 East 11th Street NY,NY 10003

March 22, 2018

Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street

9:00 – 11:30 a.m. 

New York City is an ever growing city with many layers of history which affect the people who call it home, and visit it. Parts of the city are still lucky enough to retain their historic Belgian Block street pavings. In Historic Districts the Belgian Blocks should be preserved and replaced in kind after road work, but in recent years these streets have been paved over in the name of being American with Disabilities Act compliant.

In this class attendees will learn about the historic pavings used in DUMBO and around New York City from Doreen Gallo. Based on a study the Historic District Council commissioned from Being Here Landscape Architecture & Environmental Design, PLLC,  Denisha Williams and Jeff Byles will explain how to maintain the historic Belgian Blocks while being American with Disabilities Act compliant.

2.5 AIA / NY State credits

General- $100

Friends – $75

 

 

 

 

Category: Architect Panel · Tags: , , , , ,

2018 Conference Tours

Posted by on Monday, March 5, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

March 18- April 29: Post-Modern Midtown, Ridgewood Reservoir, Kew Gardens, Loew’s 175th Street Theater

Saturday, April 14, 10:30AM        Ridgewood Reservoir

The Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park is a 50+ acre natural oasis that straddles the border of Brooklyn and Queens. Built in 1859 to supply the once independent City of Brooklyn with high quality water, it became obsolete with the addition of new reservoirs in the Catskills in the 1950s and was decommissioned in the 1980s. Since then, nature took its course in a perfect case study of ecological succession.  A lush and dense forest has grown in its two outside basins while a freshwater pond with waterfowl sits in the middle basin. Join Jonathan Turer of NYC H2O, an organization devoted to educating New Yorkers about the city’s local water ecology, to explore this incredible natural and historic resource in the heart of the city.

REGISTER 


Saturday, April 21, 2:00PM          Kew Gardens

Discover the beauty of Kew Gardens, a residential neighborhood conceived by Albon Platt Man (who also developed nearby Richmond Hill) and his son Alrick Hubbell Man as the perfect ‘new urbanist’ community. The neighborhood, like a number of others in early 20th century Queens, was developed as a garden suburb and spurred by the construction of the Long Island Rail Road, which gave easy access to Manhattan for commuters. While another nearby garden suburb, Forest Hills Gardens, was initially conceived as a utopian enclave for the working class by philanthropist Margaret Sage, Kew Gardens was planned as a private, for-profit development. Named for an idyllic London suburb and its famed botanic gardens, the neighborhood appropriately boasts architecture inspired by English styles, particularly Tudor Revival. Join us as noted architectural historian Barry Lewis guides us through this charming corner of Queens.

SOLD OUT


Sunday, April 29, 10:30AM           Boerum Hill

The Boerum Hill Historic District is doubling! Join Jonathan Brecht and Ann Friedman of the Boerum Hill Association for a walking tour of the soon-to-be-designated Boerum Hill Historic District Extension. Boerum Hill, which, until 1964, was known as Gowanus North, is characterized by rows of Greek Revival and Italianate houses, as well as a historic commercial corridor along Atlantic Avenue. The original district, designated in 1973, comprises 250 rowhouses just south of Atlantic Avenue, while the extension will take in a portion of the three- and four-story, mixed-use, mid-19th century rowhouses on Atlantic Avenue that have been increasingly under threat with the development boom in downtown Brooklyn. This tour will explore block-long rows of matching Italianate houses, the carriage house headquarters of a patent medicine scofflaw, a former church that served as the cornerstone of Boerum Hill’s Quebec-Mohawk community in the first half of the 20th century, and some unique boutiques nestled in 1860s storefronts. The tour will wrap up by noon, just in time for brunch at one of Boerum Hill’s many charming cafés!

REGISTER


Sunday, April 29, 3:00PM             United Palace AKA Loew’s 175 & screening of On the Waterfront

Get up close and personal at this stunning 3,400-seat theatre, its mezzanine, grand foyer, balcony, and if you’re lucky, the stage! The history of United Palace, Manhattan’s 4th largest theatre and now a New York City Individual Landmark, began in 1930, when it was one of five Loew’s “Wonder Theatres” constructed across the boroughs and New Jersey. Designed by noted architect Thomas Lamb (Cort Theatre, the former Ziegfeld Theatre) with interiors overseen by decorative specialist Harold Rambusch (Waldorf Astoria, Radio City Music Hall), it was one of the region’s premier vaudeville and movie houses. Its flamboyant architectural style, with extravagant terra-cotta ornament and iconography from an array of different cultures, was meant to transport audiences to another place in the midst of Depression-era austerity. Today, the United Palace is a transformational venue that fuses culture, spirituality and entertainment.

REGISTER

Following the tour, stick around for a special screening of the 1954 classic On the Waterfront, to be preceded by a pre-show panel discussion. The panel discussion and film screening are co-sponsored by the New York Preservation Archive Project, United Palace Theater and HDC. Admission is free with purchase of a tour ticket.

Tour: 3:00pm-4:00pm

Panel discussion: 4:30pm

Film screening: 5:15pm

 

For more information about the panel and film screening: https://www.unitedpalace.org/upca-calendar/eventdetail/5013/-/on-the-waterfront-1954

Category: conference, Featured · 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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