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

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

 

Item 1

9 Pierrepont Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194236

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

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

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 3

828 Union Street – Park Slope Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #181487

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

Architect: West Chin Architect

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

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 4

143 Fenimore Street – Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #187117

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

Architect: Formworks, LLC

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

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

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 6

688 6th Avenue – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #194742

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

Architect: David Bucovy Architect, PLLC

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

LPC determination: No Action

 

Item 7

668 6th Avenue – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #195307

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

Architect: Shalat Architects, P.C.

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

LPC determination: Approved

 

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