HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on April 25, 2017

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

Item 1

230 Grosvenor Street – Douglaston Historic District


A Tudor Revival style house designed by Walter I. Halliday and built in 1927. Application is to modify window and door openings and replace windows.

While HDC is comfortable with the changes in the fenestration, we are confused about the proposed doors. The applicant’s presentation is unclear about the presence of the building’s historic door, and our committee would like to know whether or not it is currently extant,  as it is called out in the designation report as being a historic feature. Regarding the proposed storm door, we find an aluminum Anderson 3000 door to be inappropriate for a house of this age. 

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 2

276 Hicks Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District


A carriage house built in 1903. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, and replace a door.

276 Hicks is one of a few charming carriage houses remaining in historic Brooklyn Heights. Its historic alteration of a skylight extension contributes to its layered history and HDC recommends retaining this feature, not removing it. 

LPC determination: Approved 

Item 3

435 Clinton Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District


A house built c. 1870 and subsequently altered. Application is to construct a rear addition.

HDC objects to this proposed rear addition. The proposed addition’s large arch and I-beam appears more as the ground floor retail of a primary façade rather than the rear of an 1870 rowhouse. While one set back might be appropriate here, the second balcony is unfortunate because it erases the third floor, subsequently eliminating any historic fabric from this facade. Given the applicant’s extensive undertaking in expanding the rear, our committee hopes that the façade will eventually be restored.

LPC determination: Approved 

Item 5

116 Lafayette Avenue – Fort Greene Historic District


An Italianate style rowhouse designed by Robert White and built in 1860. Application is to demolish a dormer window, and install a mansard roof.

HDC urges the applicant to refer to the historic 1930s photo of 116 Lafayette which shows 2 over 2 windows used on the entire façade. Given the applicant’s proposal to outfit the dormers with 2 over 2 windows, we would like to see these windows used on the rest of the façade, in keeping with the historic character of this building. Additionally, we wonder if the proposed hand railing is necessary given the fact that there is no habitable terrace on the roof. If a railing is desired, we recommend both the rear and front railings be set back in order to comply with the six-foot setback regulation and reduce visibility from the street. 

LPC determination: Approved 

Item 7

55 7th Avenue – Park Slope Historic District


A Second Empire style rowhouse built in 1871-72. Application is to construct a rooftop addition.

The Park Slope Historic District designation report calls this stretch of 7th Avenue “a dignified blockfront of French Second Empire design” and points out that it is the “only complete blockfront of mansard roofed houses in Park Slope.” Given this superlative, HDC finds the proposed rooftop addition to be inappropriate as it will be highly visible and mar the only row of intact mansards. The impact of this proposed addition is heightened because of the visibility into the rear yards from Lincoln Place. As mansard roofs are made of wood, HDC is also concerned about the structural feasibility of adding such a large addition to the roof, especially since the proposal; did not seem to show appropriate supports. 

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 17

248 West 71st Street – West End Collegiate Extension Historic District


A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse with alterations designed by Thom & Wilson and built in 1892. Application is to modify the front façade and areaway, excavate at the areaway and rear yard, and construct rooftop and rear yard additions.

While the building envelope will remain unchanged, an all-glass rear façade seems out of character for this block. As the commissioners are well aware, windows are not transparent as much as they are translucent, and what is being proposed here is the replacement of a solid masonry box with a shiny one. HDC recommends that the design be rethought to be more in keeping with the basic nature of a masonry rowhouse.

LPC determination: Approved 

Item 20

301 Park Avenue – The Waldorf Astoria Hotel – Individual Landmark and Interior Landmark


An Art Deco style hotel skyscraper designed by Schultze & Weaver and built in 1931. Application is to alter portions of the designated interior spaces.

HDC commends the applicants on a thorough and spectacular presentation, fitting for a project of this importance, but we did notice some details which require attention. Our committee would like to see the historic 1931 chandeliers in the Silver Corridor on the 3rd floor replicated. We would also like to draw the Commission’s attention to a proposed alteration to the main lobby. Regarding the portals into the north and south lounges, historic photos show the original central bay to have a distinct tall articulation with a very strong vertical expression, characteristic of art deco design. The proposed changes look more like the existing conditions than the historic ones, however, and our committee would like to see the hierarchical expression of the cross axis returned. We would also like to see the clock returned as part of the treatment of that bay, which is slated to be removed.

LPC determination: Approved 

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