Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

[email protected] Testimony for January 25th, 2022

Item 1

45-47 2nd Avenue – East Village/Lower East Side Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, LPC-22-03566

A pair of Italianate style tenement buildings designed by John O’Neil and built in 1867. Application is to construct a rooftop addition.

Architect: Tom Winter Architect

The Historic Districts Council believes that changing the party wall material of the rooftop addition to brick, reducing the pitch of the street-facing façade, and reducing its overall height by two feet will make this proposal a more palatable addition to the roofscape.

 

Action: no decision 


Item 2

Central Park – Delacorte Theatre – Scenic Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, LPC-22-04971

An open-air theater, built at the southwest edge of the Great Lawn in 1962, within an English Romantic style public park, designed in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Application is to modify the shell; replace cladding, infill, signage, lighting towers, seating, stairs, decking, and fencing; install a canopy and banners; and construct a barrier free access ramp.

Architect: Ennead Architects

HDC finds significant aspects of this proposal to be inappropriate. In particular, we believe the following architectural elements are unnecessary and should be carefully reconsidered: the canted reinterpretation of the building’s wood-slatted façade, the expanded canopy size and form, the increased amount (and amplitude) of signage, the heightened lighting towers, and the multi-colored seats, all of which divert attention from the surrounding park, rather than serving as a deferential background.

The Delacorte Theater is a significant work of architecture. It was designed by Giorgio Cavaglieri, a prominent New York City architect who helped pioneer the concept of “adaptive reuse” within the discipline of historic preservation. The Delacorte is characterized by a rustic modernism that is well suited to the Central Park setting. Although the theater is not designated as an individual NYC Landmark, it should be treated as such. Any modification to the original structure should be executed in the spirit of Cavaglieri and his contributions to the city.

Ennead Architects has a substantial body of sensitively executed preservation and adaptive reuse projects that have involved minimal interventions. They have demonstrated their ability to carefully balance modern programmatic needs with historic preservation. The firm’s work at Carnegie Hall and Giorgio Cavaglieri’s own Joseph Papp Public Theater are two fine examples. It would be an unfortunate irony were the same architects to unnecessarily alter the exterior appearance of Cavaglieri’s Delacorte Theater by making arbitrary formal modifications, rather than simply addressing functional needs.

HDC strongly recommends that the Commissioners ask the applicant to reconsider and rework elements of their design, specifically those that alter the theater’s exterior form and appearance. In this case, a quiet, respectful approach to renovation is the appropriate way to act.

Action: positive report

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