August 11, 2009

Hearing Date:  8/11/2009
LPC Docket Number: 098532
Brooklyn, Block: 301, Lot: 44
155 Warren Street – Cobble Hill Historic District

A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1838. Application is to construct dormers at the roof.

HDC Testimony
While the commission has approved dormers on the front facades of similar buildings, HDC finds these proposed for 155 Warren Street to be too thin.  In addition, they are pushed too far forward on a fairly low pitched roof giving the odd appearance from the street of only dormers.  Rather than cluttering the roofscape, HDC would recommend they be set back further or skylights be considered.

LPC Determination: Approved

Hearing Date:  8/11/2009
LPC Docket Number: 098493
Manhattan, Block: 1420, Lot: 1
200 East 66th St –  Individual Landmark

A Modern style mixed-use complex designed by Mayer & Whittlesey and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and built between 1947 and 1951. Application is to install a pergola

HDC Testimony
Although placed up on the roof, HDC finds the materials and visibility of the proposed pergola and awnings to be inappropriate to the Manhattan House.  The tan colors and use of wood do not harmonize with the pristine, white, iconic modernity of the landmark. In a best-case scenario, it would be both positioned so that it would be completely invisible form the public way, and designed with appropriate materials so that those seeing it up close will feel it complements this remarkable modern landmark.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

Hearing Date:  8/11/2009
LPC Docket Number: 099472
Manhattan, Block: 1387, Lot: 56
900 Madison Ave, aka 28 East 73rd St – Upper East Side Historic District
An apartment building with some classical details, designed by Sylvan Bien and built in 1939. Application is to alter faзade, install storefront infill, and awnings.

HDC Testimony
While opening up the storefronts at the base of this building moves 900 Madison Avenue in the right direction, the proposed goes too far leaving Sylvan Bien’s 1939 apartment building floating.  The applicant should look more to the tax photo, however grainy it may be, where one can make out at least one pier, a dark bulkhead (possibly metal or possibly back painted glass) and an awning hopper and awning.  These small details would add interest to the base and help ground the building.

While there are second floor storefronts on many buildings along Madison Avenue, they are not historically  found on large 20th-century apartment buildings.  LPC does not regulate use, of course, but we urge the most discreet approach possible be taken.  Second floor awnings are not appropriate, and we oppose the removal of historic steel windows on this floor.

On the side street faзade, while we could see dropping the sill of the two existing windows, HDC does not approve of creating more window openings.  The ground floor corner  was originally designed to be blank so as to separate the residential entrance from the commercial.  The proposed openings bring the two too close together.

LPC Determination: Approved in part

Hearing Date:  8/11/2009
LPC Docket Number: 100955
Staten Island, Block: 995, Lot: 1
460 Brielle Ave – NYC Farm Colony-Seaview Hospital Historic District Historic District

A Georgian Revival style hospital building designed by Edward P. Stevens and Renwick, Aspinwall & Tucker, and built in 1917. Application is to replace windows.

HDC Testimony
Not original to the Group House, these stained glass windows were added later when this part of the Group House was converted into a synagogue in 1929.  (Religion was an important part of life in Seaview – two other religious structures exist, a Catholic chapel opened in 1928 and the City Mission Chapel commissioned in 1934 by the N.Y. Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society.)  The windows honor people and organizations who served Seaview Hospital, and their loss would be the loss of a piece of history. It is not surprising to hear that the windows are in bad condition after decades of neglect, but the purpose of preservation is to repair and care for such historic details.  HDC is also concerned over the fate of the windows if they are to be removed.  Will they be thrown away or given to the Seaview Museum or other institution?  So much of Seaview’s historic fabric is under threat from dis-use and neglect, it would seem especially unfortunate to remove these historic elements.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

Hearing Date:  8/11/2009
LPC Docket Number: 096033
Manhattan, Block: 828, Lot: 25
1141 Broadway – Madison Square North Historic District

An Art Deco style commercial building designed by William I. Hohauser and built in 1926-27. Application is to legalize alterations to the secondary elevation and penthouse without LPC permits, to reconstruct the penthouse, and to install storefront infill, a marquee, and rooftop mechanical equipment.

HDC Testimony
HDC is opposed to this proposal as it alters, but does not restore 1141 Broadway, a fine Art Deco style commercial building by William I. Hohauser.

The rooftop addition is far too visible.  Its placement and design along with that of the rooftop mechanical equipment should be studied to reduce the visibility and its impact as much as possible.

While clear historic photos of the building and its storefronts were presented, the proposal does not seem follow them.  The original storefront did not have heavy piers or classical columns.  The transoms were made up of squares, heavier, higher bulkheads grounded the base, and the spandrels in between were more delicately detailed.  The proposed design lends a feeling of heaviness to a storefront that once had an open corner sweep and an Art Deco lightness that stressed the horizontality of the building.   HDC urges the applicant to work with staff on a design that more reflects this earlier feel.  Once the storefronts are redesigned, the marquee can then be looked at and its appropriateness determined.

Historic design is not the only thing that has been ignored here.  We understand from neighborhood sources that the applicant has performed a number of illegal and/or poor jobs on this landmark including installing windows without permits, painting the terra cotta and patching with mismatching mortar.  The owners have not been good stewards of this art deco gem and have proved that any work performed must be closely supervised by the LPC.

HDC would like to note finally that this building is National Register Certified and a true restoration of the storefronts could mean tax incentives for the owners.  A true restoration would also be a gift for 1141 Broadway and the Madison Square North Historic District.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

Posted Under: HDC@LPC