HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on January 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

811 Walton Avenue – Grand Concourse Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1914250

A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by Franklin, Bates & Heindsmann, and built in 1926-27. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future replacement of windows.

While this window master plan is moving in the right direction in terms of replicating the historic six-over-six window configuration, HDC was unable to determine any details about these windows from the drawings. There was no information regarding the brick molds; what manufacturer will be producing them; or what material they will be made from. HDC suggests utilizing an aluminum-clad window, which can closely replicate the profiles of the original windows.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 2

192 Prospect Park West – Park Slope Extension Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918495

An altered commercial building built in 1922-1923. Application is to alter the facades, install signage and rooftop bulkheads.

It seems that sometimes we can have nice things. HDC is particularly thrilled about this stunning project, as we actively campaigned for the inclusion of this block in the long-awaited Park Slope HD extension because of fears of what the future might bring. The theater and this small building, only two years ago, were slated to be expanded and substantially modified, in our judgment to its detriment. Today, the theater will remain in its original footprint and reopen as a Nitehawk, and this little building will return to an appearance of a kinder time. HDC thanks the applicant for locating extremely informing documentation about this building’s past lives over the years, and for basing their proposal on the most attractive historic condition. This is a reminder that with the right combination of ownership and regulation, even long-neglected sites can be returned to their former selves.

LPC determination: Approved


 Item 4

75 Broadway – Trinity Church — Individual LandmarkCERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920321

A Gothic Revival style church designed by Richard Upjohn and built in 1846. Application is to install a canopy, ramps, and new paving, replace doors, fences and gates, perform excavation, alter the landscape, replace windows and extend an existing loggia.

HDC understands the conservation and programmatic priorities of a church of this age, and we found the proposal to be well thought out with much attention to detail. There are some design choices regarding the outside of the building, however, that we felt could be modified to best augment the church and its unique landscape. Trinity Church is a rare treasure in Manhattan, whose presence on this small plot of land has persisted in various forms since 1697. It is this situation of the bucolic survival of land within one of the densest places in the world that makes alterations to this unique environment be examined with the utmost scrutiny.

It was not clear from the submitted drawings why there is a programmatic need for an awning that will run the length of the entire façade of the sanctuary. This building and its architect, Richard Upjohn, are known for the hallmark brownstone buttresses, executed in a free rendering of English Gothic. The canopy competes and obscures these massive forms, and its design appears as a Modernist expression which HDC feels does not fit alongside an ecclesiastical structure. If the awning is not an absolutely necessary amenity, we strongly recommend its removal to keep this landscape as simple and uncluttered as possible.

In a similar vein regarding the outside perception of the landmark, our committee suggests that the hardscape design of the Western Terrace further be examined. While bluestone pavers are the correct and appropriate choice, the flags of the pavers are much too small. The paving appears as tiled as opposed to laid, and HDC suggests paving this area with bluestone the sizes of ones found within the graveyard, which is contextual with the existing environment and historically sensitive. Similarly, the construction of the curbing and benches could benefit greatly from materials that have been quarried and hewn, as opposed to the current veneered appearance. Like the canopy, the design changes proposed for the terrace appear too clean and modern for their context, with sharp edges and angular compositions. HDC suggests exploring wooden benches with iron elements, and more natural materials executed in a traditional fashion to convey an authentic flavor for this bucolic respite.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 7

11 Riverside Drive – West End Collegiate Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1911795

A Modern style apartment building designed by Sylvan Bien and built in 1949-1950. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future installation of windows and air conditioning units.

HDC appreciates the effort to regularize the fenestration and AC units on this Modern style apartment building. The Committee noticed many existing through-wall AC systems in place and wondered why this route wasn’t pursued for the entire building, as opposed to adding more window units. In the proposed window unit configuration, all ACs require support brackets beneath each unit, adding further clutter to the façade. As the current condition does not have these brackets, HDC suggests eliminating them from the master plan and keeping the façade as simple as possible, in keeping with the clean lines that its Modernist style is characterized for.

LPC determination: Approved


 Item 8

102 Greene Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1912869

A store and loft building designed by Henry Fernbach, built in 1880-81, and altered in 1941. Application is to relocate artwork, install signage, and construct a rooftop addition.

The proposed rooftop bulk is completely appropriate and adequately set back—set back enough so that the William Tarr sculpture will be permanently out of public view. With the recent designation of 827-831 Broadway in recognition of the residence and studio of the de Koonings, the Commission last week debated how the cultural significance of art could best be manifested in a rooftop addition. At 102 Greene Street, the physical artwork itself is a part of the architecture, with no need to interpret it in an abstract way. As an artifact, this piece should be left in situ as a valuable layer of SoHo’s streetscape as a tangible narrative to the neighborhood’s artistic past. Additionally, under Chair Tierney, the LPC determined that the artwork should remain in the bay as part of this building’s Modification of Use agreement in 2013, and moving it out of the public realm is unacceptable.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

 

 

 

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