HDC@LPC – Testimony for Hearing on March 14/21, 2016

Due to severe weather, the LPC’s March 14, 2017, Public Hearing was continued to March 21, 2017. HDC’s testimony for items on the March 14th calendar, posted below, will be read on March 21st.

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

35-55 87th Street – Jackson Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #195636

An Anglo-American Garden Home style house built in 1925. Application is to legalize the installation of windows, retaining wall, door and security gate without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

These relatively simple houses lend charm and a human scale to the Jackson Heights Historic District. This contribution is largely derived from subtle, but important details: windows, doors, gutters, slate tiles, front yards, etc. As such, HDC urges the Commission to require the installation of wood windows with proper brick molds, as the replacement windows’ frames appear too thick. We would also like to make a plea for a front door based on the design of the one found here originally. Another detail on the façade, though not listed as part of this application, are the gutters, which have quite unfortunately been changed to white painted aluminum. Restoring the half round copper gutters would go a long way toward honoring this house’s historic appearance and contribution to the district. Finally, we also note that while there have been many retaining walls installed at front yards in this district, we question the approval of illegal walls like this one. At the very least, the wall should be redesigned to be more in keeping with others found in the district. The top layer of brick is not well integrated into the rest of the wall, making the entire thing look clunky. A more thoughtful attempt might make the wall more acceptable.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

 

Item 2

35-57 87th Street – Jackson Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #195637

An Anglo-American Garden Home style house built in 1925. Application is to legalize the installation of windows and a retaining wall without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

As we stated in the previous application, HDC would like to make a plea for the installation of wood windows and half round copper gutters.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 4

120 Brooklyn Avenue – Crown Heights North Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #193774

A Queen Anne style house designed by Henry B. Hill and built c. 1893. Application is to install a fence and pergola.

HDC takes issue with the proposed pergola, which would be extremely prominent directly on the corner, detracting from the view of this charming Queen Anne style house. Unfortunately, its material and color choice would also be incongruous with the style of the house, making it even more of an obstruction. While our committee does not object to the installation of an iron fence, we would suggest that the applicant study other fences in the neighborhood to ensure that its height is appropriate.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 5

546 Carlton Avenue – Prospect Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #193542

A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by John H. Crown and built c. 1889. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and install windows.

Project Architect: Barker Freeman

While on first glance the impact of this addition seems minimal, its rear visibility from Bergen Street is significant. Our committee recommends taking steps to bring down the height and manipulate the materials in such a way that this addition becomes less glaring.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 6

541 Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #197121

A neo-Classical style store and loft building designed by Charles Mettam and built in 1869. Application is to construct a ramp, and legalize the replacement of vault lights with diamond plate and the installation of a flagpole and intercom without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

Project Architect: Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, P.C.

Where possible, as a rule, HDC advocates for the in-kind replacement of vault light covers, a special feature on the sidewalks of former manufacturing districts like SoHo. In the application before you, on the Broadway side of the building, the proposed ramp would cover many of the existing lights, so the scope of this work would not be significant. However, the impact of keeping the historic appearance by replacing the vault light covers with cast iron to match the originals would be significant, so HDC asks that their in-kind replacement at this relatively small section of sidewalk be required. We would also advocate for the same treatment on the Mercer Street side.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 15

54 Franklin Street – TriBeCa East Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #196451

A Renaissance Revival style store and loft building designed by Charles R. Behrens and built in 1891-92. Application is to remove concealed vault lights and install a concrete sidewalk.

Project Architect: Chi F. Lau Architect

HDC is opposed to this application, which seeks to remove a unique historic feature in the TriBeCa East Historic District. The vault lights of former manufacturing districts like TriBeCa and SoHo, in which you heard a similar application earlier today, are a constant source of interest for tourists and locals alike. These simple yet elegantly designed glass lenses directly connect everyone who comes in contact with them to the rich industrial history of New York City. HDC feels that restoring vault lights wherever possible is a step in the right direction, and good practice for this Commission. The application describes these vault lights as being “not a prominent feature on the block.” Unfortunately, this may be true. They are not a prominent feature because so many have been removed. Historically, however, they were a prominent feature, and HDC urges the applicant to replace them in kind.

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 16

41 Park Row (Former New York Times Building) – Individual Landmark 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #198141

A Richardsonian-Romanesque style office building designed by George B. Post and built in 1888-89, and later enlarged by Robert Maynicke in 1903-05. Application is to install storefronts, entrances and signage.

Project Architect: Fx Fowle Architects, LLP

41 Park Row, the former New York Times Building, is a very prominent building on a very prominent block, and should be respected as such. HDC finds that the proposed oversized glass windows at the base would be incongruous with the building’s historic character, and detract from its overall appearance. Changes made to this Individual Landmark in the 1950s – before the building was designated – are more appropriate than the stark changes being proposed in this post-designation application, which would erase the base’s historic window configuration completely. Considering that this is not a prime retail location and does not appear to be proposed for such a use, we see very little justification for this alteration. The cracks in the granite base also do not justify the introduction of so much glass. If the cracks represent an issue that needs to be remedied, HDC would suggest restoring the granite instead. In any event, an appropriate intervention should take cues from the structure’s very well documented past.

LPC determination: No Action

 

Item 17

601 Lexington Avenue – The Citicorp Center (former) – Individual Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #196068

A late 20th century modern style mixed use complex designed by Hugh A. Stubbins and built in 1973-78. Application is to modify the base and entrances at the market building.

Project Architect: Gensler

The public has been informed that proposed changes to the sunken courtyard of the Citicorp Center were approved by the City Planning Commission prior to designation and that permits have been filed with the Department of Buildings. HDC wishes to express its regret at reports that the water feature may be removed from the space, which seems like an unfortunate loss. We would suggest that the LPC retain a seat at the table in discussions for the fate of the courtyard by working closely with the owner, and perhaps the MTA, to find an alternative or to return this decorative feature, which provides an element of civility and whimsy to the space.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

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