Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

[email protected] Testimony for February 28th, 2023

Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony
Prospect Park – Upper Vale, Vale of Cashmere – Scenic Landmark
A naturalistic park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and built in 1866- 1873. Application is to construct a new building, arbor and retaining/seating walls, reconfigure pathways, replace paving, and install fencing, play equipment and furnishings.
HDC objects to this design on a number of grounds. We share the concern of our colleagues at the Victorian Society that this design bears no relationship to the existing composition of the Upper Vale. Instead of treating this part of Prospect Park as the tremendously important and beloved landmark it is, the applicants have approached the Vale as if it were a clean slate, primed for a new design. 
Though the Rose Garden isn’t original to Olmsted’s design, it was designed in 1893 by Rudolph Ulrich, Prospect Park General Superintendent, the same year that Ulrich and Olmsted created the landscape for the Columbian Exposition of 1893, which codified the tenets of the City Beautiful Movement. 
The basic layout of the Rose Garden is 3 aligned basins which are part of an overlay of City Beautiful improvements throughout the park that date to the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The fact that these designs have been used by generations of park-goers, and that they reflect City Beautiful landscape architectural principles that Olmsted himself helped codify at the time of their installation, makes them deeply significant. HDC believes their overall existing historical arrangement, with plantings and water, should remain. We note that the existing basins can serve some of this project’s proposed contemporary purposes, such as a children’s play area, or butterfly garden, while maintaining their existing configuration.
This proposal also includes an arbor. Instead of restoring the arbor that was part of the City Beautiful era design, this proposal seeks to build a new one in a new location. 
Speaking of new construction, this proposal inserts a building prominently into what was designed to be a series of open spaces. HDC acknowledges the need for bathrooms, but we are concerned that this proposal inappropriately makes a building the focal point of an open space. We hope that the applicant will continue to heed the extensive community input that the new building should be as unobtrusive as possible, and set the building back into the hillside while also offering a design worthy of the space.
Action: Unanimously approved an advisory report that summarizes the commission’s views regarding the inappropriate massing, materiality and placement of the proposed new building that will be forwarded to the Public Design Commission.

Prospect Park – Lower Vale, Vale of Cashmere – Scenic Landmark
A naturalistic park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and built in 1866- 1873. Application is to install fencing
HDC is surprised by the contrast between this proposal and the one for the Upper Vale. We are pleased that the applicants have treated the Lower Vale as a restoration project, instead of a blank slate, and commend the sensitive touch applied to this beautiful place.
Action: Unanimously Approved

30 Tompkins Place – Cobble Hill Historic District
A rowhouse built in the late 19th century. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions and excavate the cellar.
HDC finds this proposal generally appropriate, and supports the rear-yard addition, and the front roof alterations. The raising of the pitch of the rear roof, however, is inappropriate and violates the roof and cornice line of the adjacent houses to the project’s south. Perhaps some sort of shed dormer could be employed to create more head height for the end user.
Action: Unanimously approved, continue to work with staff on the visibility and the slope.

17 Prospect Park West – Park Slope Historic District
A Neo-Classical style residence designed by Montrose W. Morris and built in 1899. Application is to modify the roof and create a roof terrace, install rooftop mechanical units, and create a new entrance.
HDC does not support this project in its current iteration. While we appreciate that the applicants have tried to be sensitive to the existing structure in their proposal, we still find a number of inappropriate elements here. 
17 Prospect Park West was designed by Montrose W. Morris, one of Brooklyn’s most skilled and prolific architects. Morris designed this building as a pair with its neighbor at 16 Prospect Park West, and also designed the two mansions flanking the other side of Carroll Street, 18 and 19 Prospect Park West, which means that the elevations on either side of Carroll Street are composed of a piece, and share historic symbiosis. 
The Park Slope Historic District designation report describes the design of 17 Prospect Park West to be “subtly disciplined and serene.” HDC finds the proposed removal of a dormer at the roof to compromise the discipline and serenity of the design, and to disrupt the relationship between the historic Carroll Street elevations at 17 and 18 Prospect Park West. Further, we object to the proposed visible mechanicals above the roof, and feel they should be pushed below the roofline, perhaps by depressing them into the cockloft space.
Finally, because the side-yard facade is both composed and visible from the street, we object to the proposed door at the central bay. The existing, non-historic door should be shrunk so that it will be more compatible with the existing architecture.
Action: Unanimously approved new door and rooftop mechanicals provided applicants work with staff to reduce visibility. No action on the dormer and roof terrace

857 St. Marks Avenue – Crown Heights North Historic District
A Romanesque Revival style rowhouse and an associated stable building, designed by Montrose Morris and built c. 1892. Application is to replace roofing.
HDC has been in contact with the homeowner, and we are aware of her frustration and desire to fix this building’s leaking roof. While we do not necessarily object to the use of synthetic slate in this application, we hope that some of the existing slate can be salvaged. In the event that it cannot, we support alternate materials. We note that in addition to replacing or salvaging the slate roof tiles, the homeowner may also need to remove and replace the roof’s copper flashings, valleys, and gutters in order to ensure that the roof is properly repaired.
Action: Unanimously approved

319 38th Road, aka 319 Hillside Avenue – Douglaston Historic District
A Post-Modern style free-standing house designed by Hsu Associates and built in 1995. Application is to demolish the existing house, construct a new house, regrade the site, and install retaining walls, a guard rail and paving.
Architect: AmeriLand Brook
HDC finds this proposal to be completely inappropriate. The building’s massing, materiality, and detailing are all awkward and demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of how to deploy the classical language in the design of a home for this district. HDC asks the commission to reject this proposal in its entirety.
Action: No action

428 West 22nd Street – Chelsea Historic District
A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1843. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions.
Architect: vonDALWIG Architecture
HDC finds this rear-yard addition to be too high by a story. We believe that the second- and third-floor facade plane should be maintained as is. We also find the proportion of masonry to glass in the garden and parlor floor extensions to be somewhat off and in need of further study. Additionally, some consideration could be given to relating the pattern of mullions and muntins between the upper and lower portions of this house. 
Action: Unanimously approved with modifications to set back and lower the pitch of the roof, take one story of the rear-yard addition, restudy the glazing, and align the addition with the depths of adjacent buildings.

101 East 63rd Street – Upper East Side Historic District
A Modern style residence and garage designed by Paul Rudolph and built in 1966. Application is to modify the entrance.
Architect: Steve E. Blatz Architect
HDC shares the concerns of our colleagues at Docomomo NY/Tri-State about the proposed modifications to the entrance at Paul Rudolph’s Halston Residence. This proposal seems to be an unnecessary and arbitrary change to the recesses of the entry, which should be left alone.
Action: No action

Help preserve New York’s architectural history with a contribution to HDC

$10 $25 $50 Other >