November 10, 2009

LPC Docket Number: 098825
Manhattan, Block: 50, Lot: 1
115 Broadway – Individual Landmark
A neo-Gothic style office building designed by Francis H. Kimball and built in 1904-07. Application is to install a canopy.

HDC Testimony
HDC does not approve of this application to install a canopy at this very carefully designed entry.  Clear glass does not mean it would be invisible, and the awning would be an unsympathetic intrusion on this neo-Gothic façade.  Additionally, the entry is very deeply recessed, and thus a canopy is not needed here.  If the issue is one of visibility for the business,  then signage should be considered instead.

LPC Determination: Approved

LPC Docket Number: 095327
Brooklyn, Block: 196, Lot: 9
416 Broadway – TriBeCa East Historic District
A Renaissance Revival style store and office building designed by Wjordan & Giller and built in 1898-99. Application is to legalize the installation of rooftop addition without Landmarks Preservation Commission permits, and the installation of storefront infill in non-compliance with Certificate of Appropriateness 06-3975.

416 Broadway roof

HDC Testimony
This project is a good example of why applicants should return to the LPC when unexpected conditions or issues are encountered.  Many of the problems created here could have been avoided by consulting with LPC staff.

The rooftop addition is obviously visible down Lispenard Street and from the corner of Broadway and Walker Street.  It is certainly not the kind of minimal visibility the Commission would have required had this come forward as an initial proposal.

The execution of the approved design for storefront infill was sloppy resulting in a jumbled appearance.  Among other problems, the transom bar jumps around in height rather than creating a continuous line, and the awning has been awkwardly installed in the middle of the facia instead of just under the first floor cornice.

HDC is opposed to legalizing this illegal work and urges that the problems be rectified instead.

LPC Determination: Rooftop addition approved, storefronts denied

LPC Docket Number: 100602
Manhattan, Block: 231, Lot: 17
54 Howard Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

A store and warehouse building built in 1860. Application is to alter the base of the building and install storefront infill.

54 Howard

HDC Testimony
While the existing infill is not original, we do not feel it should be replaced with just blank glass.  The wood paneled doors are a nice touch and we are happy to hear about the restoration of the cornice, but the windows are too glassy.  A more traditional, solid treatment including a bulkhead and other details would be a more appropriate alteration.  The presentation includes good examples of infill in this district and those leads should be more closely followed.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

LPC Docket Number: 102184
Manhattan, Block: 613, Lot: 49
208 West 11th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District
A rowhouse with Italianate-style elements built in 1856. Application is to install a painted wall sign.

wall sign

HDC Testimony
While larger signs have existed here at 208 West 11th Street, it appears in the historic photos that signs had physical framing, something along the lines of a billboard, and should not be used as precedent for a painted wall sign.  We urge the Commission to stick to the usual guide lines including allowing a sign no larger than 20% of the wall space and requiring it be set back from the edges.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

LPC Docket Number: 102016
Manhattan, Block: 615, Lot: 93
263 West 12th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District
A house with a store built in 1868-1869 and a back house built in the century. Application is to modify the facades, construct a rooftop bulkhead and railing, replace windows and install new storefront infill.

263 West 12th

HDC Testimony
The rooftop bulkhead and rail appear minimally visible and appropriate and the storefront infill proposed is quite nice.  HDC is not totally convinced though that 1-over-1 windows are appropriate for a utilitarian stucture of the late 1860s.

We have no issues with the façade changes to the back of the front house or the link, but we are concerned about the front façade of the backhouse.  The house’s unique location is a reminder that not all of New York’s history can be told by what faces the street. The very interesting history that has been presented here is seen in the quirky, rather charming jumble of windows on this façade.  The loss of so much historic fabric should simply not be allowed.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

LPC Docket Number: 101847
Manhattan, Block: 645, Lot: 44
21-27 9th Avenue – Gansevoort Market Historic District
A row of four Greek Revival  rowhouses, built circa 1844-1846 and altered in the 1880’s and 1920’s.  Application is to construct a rooftop addition, alter a canopy, and install new storefront infill and signage.


HDC Testimony
HDC approves of the work proposed on the base of this building – the storefront infill, signage, and extension of the canopy – as they all reinforce the market feel of and these buildings’ place in the Gansevoort Market Historic District.

We however have difficulties accepting such a large addition proposed to top some of the smallest and oldest buildings in the district.  While care has been taken to delineate the divisions of the buildings below and the use of corten steel lends an industrial feel, this does not mitigate their size and ready visibility.  We are afraid that the use of so much glass as well as satin-finished aluminum will heighten the additions presence with glare in the morning and glow at night.

While HDC appreciates the argument used to support this proposal, we do not agree with it.  The idea of a district of creativity and change here has been mentioned by Commissioners and written into Certificates of Appropriateness, but nowhere in the Gansevoort Market Historic District Designation Report is this idea mentioned.  The closest it comes is one of the last lines of report which states “today the Gansevoort Market Historic District is a vibrant neighborhood of remaining meat packers, high end retail commerce, restaurants, offices, clubs, galleries, and apartments, that retains, despite recent changes, a strong and integral sense of place as a market district.”  The district is vibrant with a strong sense of place “despite”, not “because of”or “thanks to”, recent changes.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

LPC Docket Number: 101449
Manhattan, Block: 522, Lot: 8
628 Broadway – NoHo Historic District

An office building built by H. J. Schwarzmann & Co. and built in 1882-83. Application is to alter storefront infill installed in non-compliance with Certificate of No Effect 06-5427.

HDC Testimony
HDC is opposed to this proposal as it seeks to basically just paste a wood storefront up against CMU.  Structurally, this is not a good idea as the storefront will not be able to be maintained from the interior and rotting will certainly occur when water becomes trapped between the two layers.  We urge the applicant to work with staff to create a real façade and not a Potemkin storefront.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

LPC Docket Number: 102964
Manhattan, Block: 822, Lot: 39
160 Fifth Avenue – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

A neo-Renaissance style office, store and loft building designed by Robert Henderson Robertson and built in 1891-92. Application is to alter the building entrance.

160 fifth

HDC Testimony
While HDCis happy to see the return of the impressive neo-Renaissance entrance here at 160 Fifth Avenue, we are concerned for about the details and their execution.  Substitute materials can look cartoonish if proper  attention to details and depth is not paid.   In particular, we are concerned about the execution of the grills and the column capitals.  Unfortunately at the Scribner Building we have seen a case of detailing coming out looking like a one-dimensional cutout, and such an affect should be avoided.  We also would like to see the inclusion of the center column in the plan if possible and the recreation of other design details seen once on the frieze.  If the trouble is being taken to restore the entrance, it is might as well be done in full.  Very clear historic photos have provided a good base for this proposal, but it is important to  make sure the details are carried out.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

Comments are closed.

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