April 10, 2012

Item 2
126491- Block 215, lot 1-
10 Hubert Street – TriBeCa North Historic District
A Romanesque Revival style store and loft building designed by Julius Kastner and built in 1892. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, remove the fire-escape, alter the ground floor window and door openings, and install storefront infill.

While we approve of the storefront infill and are happy to see a cornice coming back to 10 Hubert Street and other restoration work, HDC finds that the proposed rooftop addition is simply too big for this relatively small, corner building. The addition is basically two stories due to the large stair and elevator bulkheads to the roof deck. We ask that instead the addition be reduced to strictly one story, without the visible bulkheads.

LPC determination:  approved


Item 3
126522- Block 230, lot 6-
323 Canal Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District
A Federal style rowhouse, built in 1821, with a commercial ground floor which was installed in the mid-19th century. Application is to install new storefront infill and alter the roof.

One of the main features of 323 Canal Street, a Federal-style rowhouse built in 1821, is its peaked roof and dormers. HDC was disappointed that the materials and details of the proposed alterations were not present in the boards available at Public Review on Friday. Special care and attention needs to be paid to both. We find the visible skylights on the front pitch of the roof to be inappropriate. While the proposed addition in the back does not extend the full length, it would mean the loss of the existing dormer. A more sympathetic approach might be to create dormers flanking the existing so that it may  be retained.

LPC determination:  approved with modifications


Item 4
129516- Block 530, lot 63,64-
8,10-12 Bond Street aka 358-364 Lafayette Street – NoHo Historic District
An altered factory building built circa 1920, and one-story garage building, designed by Sapolsky & Slobodien and built in 1959. Application is to demolish factory and garage and construct a seven-story building.

While HDC appreciates the reference to the De Vinne Press Building and other historic buildings in the neighborhood, we find these references are not quite followed through. The result is a rather flat structure with a very horizontal feel in a district filled with exuberant, more vertical buildings.

Terra cotta is a fine choice for a new building in an historic district, but the proposed does not take full advantage of this material.  Instead of the detail, grace and shadow lines of historic buildings, there is little more than terra cotta rain screens. (The Commission rejected a proposal for a new building on Lispenard Street in the TriBeCa East Historic District that used a similar material and design) And while NoHo does have a number of structures that mix metal and masonry in rather lively ways, we find the corten steel panels and pilasters of the base to be rather bleak.

The proposed fenestration gives a distinct horizontality to the new building. The grouped windows in the context photos all come together to create a much more vertical feel than those proposed. The curved corner is an interesting NoHo feature, and the inclusion of a window here is a nice, new take on it. Flanking the corner window with more windows though and not masonry starts to make the structure more reminiscent of the Starrett-Lehigh Building than anything in NoHo.

HDC asks that the details and fenestration of this proposal be reworked so that the new building may be a sympathetic neighbor to other buildings in the NoHo Historic District.

LPC determination:  no action


Item 6
122802- Block 603, lot 70-
451 Hudson Street – Greenwich Village Historic District
A rowhouse built in 1827, and altered in the Greek Revival style. Application is to legalize the installation of a gate and fence at areaway without LPC permits.

While stoop gates are occasionally deemed appropriate by the commission on primarily commercial streets, areaway fences are less appropriate. HDC is interested in knowing whether any of the other fences shown were approved by the LPC, and, if so, when. If a fence is absolutely necessary, it should be a simpler, picket style with more finely proportioned elements.

LPC determination:  approved (one vote in opposition)


Item 8
127952- Block 582, lot 18-
66 Leroy Street – Greenwich Village Extension II Historic District
A Colonial Revival style library building designed by Carrere & Hastings, and built in 1904-06, with a stripped Classical style addition designed by Raphael Glucroft, and built in 1934. Application is to install rooftop mechanical equipment and acoustical panes.

HDC finds the proposed rooftop installations on this Carnegie branch library to be minimally noticeable. We would only ask that it be painted a darker, more muted color to blend in better.

LPC determination: approved with modifications


Item 9
129239- Block 484, lot 21-
495 Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District
A Beaux-Arts style store and loft building designed by Alfred Zucker and built in 1892-1893. Application is to paint the façade, modify storefront infill, and install signage.

HDC is disappointed to see that the proposed storefront infill lacks the dimension and articulation of the rest of this incredible building. An 1899 illustration of what was then the Butler Brothers dry goods store, while admittedly a simplified drawing, does seem to indicate a more open, lighter touch which is fitting to SoHo. The reuse of the rather thick existing aluminum infill is a missed opportunity, and we feel the proportions and divisions of the infill should relate more to the openings on the floors above. We also question the use of rough wire diamond glass on the transoms. This is not a utilitarian style building, and regular glass would be far more appropriate.  The internally illuminated plastic sign is not appropriate to this historic district.   Signage in the sign band as seen in the historic illustration or in the window and/or a blade sign would be better choices.

LPC determination:  no action



Item 11
127955- Block 772, lot 64-
216-234 West 23rd Street – Chelsea Hotel, Individual Landmark
A Victorian Gothic style apartment house, designed by Hubert Pirsson & Co. and built in 1883. Application is to construct additions and rooftop bulkheads, install mechanical equipment and balcony partitions; and replace ground floor infill, windows, and a canopy.

This proposal is made up of a number of elements. While it is always good to see a broader plan for a building, it is important on an individual landmark such as the Chelsea Hotel that the details be scrutinized as if each one was coming forward on its own.

Starting at the top, without much of a setback, HDC is doubtful that the rooftop additions would not be visible. The special profile of the roofline against the sky is such an important element of this individual landmark, and this dramatic silhouette should not be encumbered.

We applaud the use of wood windows matching the configuration and detail of the historic windows, but we ask why stained glass cannot be used in all of the transoms. Such glass is a distinctive design element in the Victorian Gothic, a style that New York City has surprisingly little of. With all the money being put into this project, and, of course, to be gained, the price of stained glass certainly would not break the budget.

Considering the impact of the tiers of ornate, horizontal balconies, any divisions should be as unobtrusive as possible. If they are even necessary (they have not been for 130 years) HDC would suggest possibly just a small chain, much like the Commission encourages at the base of stoops, rather than a larger, solid planter to delineate space.

We find the blocky lighting on the underside of the second-floor balconies to be an awkward intrusion. How would the wiring be handled? Would it be exposed or would some sort of covering be added? Either case seems inappropriate for a nearly street-level piece of an individual landmark. Other lighting options should be investigated instead.

With the exception of its balconies, the Hotel Chelsea has a strongly vertical line. Historic photos show that this was the case on the ground floor too where the transoms of the store windows did not tend to stretch over the center recessed entrances. Instead the opening extended to the top of the the infill, much like the way the openings French doors above extend from floor to ceiling. HDC asks that this configuration be replicated to avoid the appearance of squat storefronts.

The Chelsea Hotel is a unique and important piece of New York City both for the Victorian Gothic architecture of its exterior and the colorful cultural history that went on in the interior. While the latter continues on in story, the former relies on the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

LPC determination:  no action


Item 13
127745- Block 849, lot 23-
29 East 20th Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District
A building originally built in 1838, altered in 1959 by Henry Wolinsky. Application is to legalize the installation if storefront infill and windows without LPC permits.

Item 14
129549- Block 849, lot 24-
31 East 20th Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District
A building originally built in 1844-45, altered in 1959 by Henry Wolinsky. Application is to legalize the installation of windows without LPC permits.

The Historic Districts Council is the advocate for New York City’s designated historic districts and neighborhoods meriting preservation. Its Public Review Committee monitors proposed changes within historic districts and changes to individual landmarks and has reviewed the application now before the Commission.

This application shows the danger of declaring a building “no style.” Henry Wolinsky’s 1959 alterations are typical of a drive during that decade to create a modern, simple style out of the more ornate buildings of the prior century. The removal of the two-over-two windows with their horizontal division, a key element in that design, is a drastic change, one that should be rectified. The storefront is much better without the awning, and inclusion of brick at the base as seen in the designation photo could help create a more authentic, unified design. While the 1959 alteration is not high style, it is a full redesign in a vernacular version of mid-century modern. Unless an entire new design is again proposed, its elements should be retained.

LPC determination:  approved


Item 22
126428- Block 1123, lot 12-
45 West 70th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District
A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse, designed by Gilbert A. Schellenger, and built in 1890-91. Application is to excavate the rear yard and construct a rear yard addition.

HDC finds that the excavation of the entire rear yard, nearly doubling the footprint of the house, is too extensive. We ask that it be pulled in on sides and at the rear property line as the commission has required in similar projects in Greenwich Village and elsewhere. While the rear yard addition has a more favorable masonry to glass ratio than is often proposed, HDC does not approve of extending the entire back façade beyond the plane of the neighbors and of changing top floor fenestration. The basic form of the original house and its relationship to the other houses of the row should be retained.


 LPC determination:  no action






Item 23
124743- Block 1416, lot 38-
222 East 62nd Street – Treadwell Farm Historic District
A townhouse with French Second Empire influences, designed by James W. Pirrson and built in 1868. Application is to construct rear yard and rooftop additions.

The commission almost always requires the retention of the rowhouse’s upper floor wall plane and its fenestration, but in special instances when the rear façades of a row are particularly intact, the top two stories are retained. HDC finds 222 East 62nd Street to be one of those cases, and we ask that the top two stories remain intact. Similarly, to highlight the original form of the house the rooftop addition should be pulled back from the rear wall. While we find the amount of glass on both additions excessive, the project could be approvable if the additions themselves are reduced.

 LPC action:  approved with modifications





Posted Under: HDC@LPC


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