HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on October 23, 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.

Public Meeting Item

Item 2

186 Fifth Avenue – Ladies’ Mile Historic District


A Queen Anne style office building designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh and built in 1883. Application is to replace the storefront and install signage.

At the June 2018 Public Hearing, Commissioners clearly stated that at minimum, the Fifth Avenue Henry Hardenburgh façade should be recreated. This entails restoring the symmetry of this façade by enclosing the steel on the southwest corner of the building in masonry. This corner pier and the entirety of the 23rd Street load-bearing masonry piers were replaced with cast-iron in 1905. The change in load-bearing material does not preclude the treatment of the Fifth Avenue façade to visually read as masonry and once again anchor this corner. The revised proposal fails to solve any of the issues put forth by the Commission and appears nearly identical to its first iteration. The issue that persists is the awkward visual relationship of a masonry building floating above a glassy base. Returning masonry to the corner is a compromise that would ameliorate this problem, but the applicants have ignored this and proceeded with their own wishes, to the detriment of what is the gateway of the Ladies’ Mile.

LPC determination: Approved

Public Hearing Item

Item 1

79 8th Avenue – Manufacturers Hanover Trust – Individual Landmark


A neo-Classical style bank building designed by De LeMos & Cordes and built in 1907. Application is to install banners.

HDC is pleased to see the adaptive reuse of this fine bank building for a museum. While the banners are integral to the museum’s visibility and therefore success, we believe that they could be reduced in width. We ask that the Commission require the applicant to anchor the banners into the mortar joint, not the stone. This is Tuckahoe marble, which is a soft stone, and the less punctures in it, the better.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 2

53 Mercer Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District


A store and lofts buildings built in 1868. Application is to construct rooftop additions.

Small buildings, like this early store and loft building, play a part in creating a dynamic historic streetscape because of the interplay of varying scales. There is plenty of room to build atop this building, so much room, in fact, that there is no excuse for any amount of visibility of the proposed mass. The examples of Commission-approved SoHo additions provided in the drawings all sit atop buildings that are five stories or higher, rendering their appropriateness moot in the case of this three story building. The scale of the addition should be reduced so there is no evidence from the street of the aluminum composite façade panels this mass will be clad with.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

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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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