Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

[email protected] – Testimony for LPC Hearing on May 24, 2016

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 2



175212 – Block 2099, lot 20

39 South Elliott Place – Fort Greene Historic District

A vacant lot. Application is to construct a new building.

HDC urges the Commission to demand a higher quality design for this site, this block and this district. The proposed house is very clumsy in its proportions, neither working from the dimensions of its former twin, number 37 South Elliott Place, nor ignoring those dimensions completely in favor of a contemporary approach. Even if the applicant wanted something contemporary, the design should at least reference the grid and height established by number 37, as the site’s relationship to that existing house is immediately discernible by virtue of their unique and shared narrow width. Ignoring that relationship would effectively create a permanent “elephant-in-the-room” situation.

Regardless of how number 39 does not attempt to take cues from number 37, including its window placement and its stark and overpowering roofline, there are proportional issues even if it were a stand-alone house. Its lack of a stoop and door surround misses an opportunity to give the façade some depth, and makes the door appear proportionally tiny when compared with the façade’s very large windows. There are other awkward proportions on the front façade, as rendered, including the different widths between the windows on each floor and the fact that the front door and the window next to it on the ground level do not line up.

HDC also wishes to make a plea for better materiality. It appears that the façade is to be clad in stucco to mimic limestone, which is problematic for obvious reasons. Even if the applicant proposed to clad the house in limestone, there is no precedent for limestone facades – or rustication – on this block. Our committee also finds the stepping of the rear façade to be a form that is too fussy and not justified in this context. We ask that the overall design of the proposed house be rethought and dramatically refined, as is expected in our historic districts.

LPC determination: No Action

 39 S. Elliott-tax photo
39 S. Elliott-proposed

Item 5



183594 – Block 1505, lot 63

16 East 94th Street – Carnegie Hill Historic District

A rowhouse built in 1891-92 and altered in the neo-Federal style c. 1925. Application is to alter the neo-Federal style front façade, and construct rear yard additions.
It is well established that 1920s neo-Federal and neo-Georgian alterations are a character-defining attribute of the Upper East Side’s townhouses. As architectural historians have noted, they mark a significant phase in the district’s history that should be respected. For this reason, HDC opposes the proposed alterations to the front façade of 16 East 94th Street. On first glance, the changes may seem innocuous, but this building’s austere, neo-Federal charm is evident already and not in need of gratuitous tinkering with historic fabric. HDC also finds that although the rear has been altered, the original masonry openings are still visible and the brick cornice lines are intact. It would be a shame to lose these historic details.
LPC determination: Approved

16 E. 94th-existing

16 E. 94th-proposed


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