Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

[email protected] – Testimony for LPC Hearing on January 7, 2020

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

308 Cumberland Street – Fort Greene Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #2001262

An Italianate style rowhouse built in 1859. Application is to replace windows

Architect: N/A

As this row historically consisted of homes with wood windows, HDC does not find the substituting of materials here to be appropriate and fears that it would set a bad precedent. If the brick molds are made of wood, we suggest replacing the current windows with new wood windows.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

The Commission was willing to accept aluminum cladding over wood if the windows were returned to their historic configuration of two over two windows, so they approved the proposal with this modification.


Item 4

127 Greene Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #2004541

A neo-Grec style store building designed by William Baker and built in 1883-1884. Application is to alter the storefront display window.

Architect: ARAPC

A distinct characteristic of the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District is the rhythm of its storefronts. While there exist some evident interventions at storefront windows in the SoHo streetscape, HDC finds that the removal of the transom and enlarging of the display window at 127 Greene Street further exacerbates the interruption of this historic rhythm. The existing approved proposal shown in the presentation is appropriate as is and we see no convincing reason to remove the transom.

Additionally, it struck our Committee that this presentation lacks a clear explanation of proposed materials. Our ability to determine appropriateness relies in part on these details and they should be made explicit to the public who reviews applications beforehand.

LPC determination: Approved

The Commission approved this application swiftly without much discussion or debate, citing that they feel it is appropriate for the neighborhood.


Item 6

14-16 East 16th Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #2005254

A Romanesque Revival style residence hall designed by R.H. Robertson and built in 1889-91. Application is to demolish portions of the rear façade and rear additions, enlarge the building at the roof and rear, excavate the cellar, extend a chimney, alter the ground floor, and install signage, lighting, and windows.

Architect: BKSK

HDC applauds the proposed alterations at the ground floor and the restoration of the existing primary façade. The choice to use quality materials is a commendable one and we’re happy to see that the applicant went in this appropriate direction. However, the proposed gable rooftop addition and glass screen enclosure do not serve this elegant, muscular building well and unnecessarily detract and distract from it.

While we certainly understand the inspiration drawn from R.H. Robertson’s original design, the fact remains that his design eventually changed and this was never an existing historic feature of this robust building. Any significant modern interventions to the façade must properly befit the structure that was ultimately built or should not be done at all. HDC suggests the applicant set back the enlarged section at the rear of the roof without the gable rooftop addition.

LPC determination: No action

Many Commissioners had issues with the proposed gable roof addition and accompanying glass screen encasement. Commissioner Michael Goldblum specifically pointed out that a passerby would not have any background knowledge regarding the intent of the design. Ultimately, the Commission took no action.


 

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