HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on October 16, 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.

Item 1

37-22 79th Street – Jackson Heights Historic District


An Anglo-American Garden Home style house designed by Benjamin Dreisler, Jr. and built in 1926. Application is to alter the front façade, install a fence and alter the areaway.

Given the many grandfathered altered front yard conditions in this district, we do not find the installation of a fence objectionable. However, we believe the proposed fence should be lowered to match the height of its neighbor to the north.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 2

200 Guernsey Street – Greenpoint Historic District


An Italianate style rowhouse built in 1865. Application is to construct a rear yard addition.

While we appreciate the modest scale of this addition, the project is a missed opportunity in terms of design, and would be an insensitive alteration to a lovely house. The rear windows are inconsistent with the proportions of the building, and the addition has a bunker-like appearance. We believe this proposal should be completely redesigned to be more consistent with the existing architecture of the building.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 3

119 Congress Street – Cobble Hill Historic District


An Italianate style rowhouse designed by Thomas Wheeler and built in 1852-55. Application is to construct rear yard and rooftop additions.

These additions are inappropriate and without precedent- this block has uniform one-story rear additions, and there no existing roof additions on this row. The additions to the townhouses across the street affected buildings that had undergone severe modifications and changes in use and their example should not be drawn from here. At the rear elevation of the proposal, there is no design consistency from floor to floor. We ask the LPC to reject this project as proposed.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 4

335 Hoyt Street – Carroll Gardens Historic District


A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by William Corbett and built in 1874. Application is to replace the sidewalk.

There is no compelling reason not to replace existing bluestone in kind- new and salvaged bluestone is readily available, and the difference in cost would be negligible. We also understand that the work will trigger the need to install a tree bed, which will further reduce the amount of replacement bluestone to be installed.

LPC determination: Approved 

Item 5

75 Bennet Street – Individual Landmark


A Classical Revival style library building designed by Carrère & Hastings and built in 1904- 1905, with a rear addition built in 1938-1939. Application is to install a barrier-free access ramp, alter the steps and front yard, and replace windows.

The proposed work is certainly of a net benefit to the library building and its patrons, and we are pleased to see the restoration of masonry, windows and dormers, and the removal of security grilles. The only revision we would like to see is that paneled doors be used at the first floor east door and at the cellar west door, rather than the blank doors proposed.

This project goes to show that necessary renovations and upgrades can be implemented on historic library structures to the benefit of all and seemingly without undue capital burden. Recently, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services objected to HDC’s request to nominate a number of Carnegie libraries to the National Register of Historic Places, fearing that was a precursor to local landmark designation, which was implied to be an onerous condition. This seeming institutional antipathy towards LPC regulations is concerning to say the least, and we are hopeful that proposals such as this one spark a reconsideration of this attitude amongst agency leadership.

LPC determination: No Action

Item 6

695 Sixth Avenue – Ladies’ Mile Historic District


A Commercial Palace style department store built in phases between 1889 and 1911 and designed by a series of architecture firms, including William Schickel & Co., Buchman & Deisler, Buchman & Fox, and Taylor & Levi.Application is to install a barrier-free access ramp.

HDC recommends that diamond plate be used rather than open-mesh aluminum on the ramp’s platform, for consistency with the diamond plate in front of the entrance.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 8

40 West 42nd Street – Bryant Park – Scenic Landmark


A French Classical style park designed by Lusby Simpson and built in 1934, and reconstructed and partially redesigned by Hanna/Olin in 1988-91. Application is to alter an entrance, pathway and planting bed to provide barrier-free access.

This project’s intention is laudable, and it is generally sensitively designed. We find the fence to be not quite resolved, and think that perhaps if the ironwork turned the corner, toward the small seating area, it would make the intervention less apparent, and make the fence better integrated into the design and less of a free-standing element.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 9

227 Riverside Drive – Riverside – West End Historic District


A neo-Renaissance style apartment building designed by John Woolley and built In 1897-98. Application is to legalize the installation of a barrier-free access ramp without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

There is no need to eliminate the forward entrance and the steps to advance accessibility. HDC asks that the site be returned to its condition before the illegal work, and a sensitive side ramp be designed, possibly incorporating the plinth blocks.


Item 10

720 West End Avenue – Riverside – West End Extension II Historic District


A Renaissance Revival style apartment hotel designed by Emery Roth and built in 1926-27. Application is to construct rear yard and rooftop additions and bulkheads, modify and create masonry openings, excavate a portion of the rear yard, and construct a new building on a portion of the lot.

The proposed rooftop addition is visible over the primary and other façades, and from many different vantages. We believe its footprint should be reduced and/or its height lowered to minimize visibility. The building currently and historically boasts limestone only at the base, where it is encountered by pedestrians, while utilizing terra cotta on the upper stories. We would ask that the applicants consider using terra cotta on the penthouse to preserve this arrangement and to better relate to the cornice.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

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