Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

[email protected] – Testimony for LPC Zoom Hearing on May 12, 2020

PLEASE NOTE: In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is adjusting its processes and procedures to ensure the agency continues to provide services to the city while protecting the health of its employees and the general public. The agency is currently holding public hearings and meetings through Zoom, and live-streaming them through its YouTube channel. This enables applicants to present their projects to the Commission and the public to watch the presentations live on YouTube. Interested members of the public will also be able to provide live testimony by joining in through the Zoom app or by calling from any telephoneFor information regarding online public participation, visit the LPC’s website here.

The Historic Districts Council (HDC) reviews every public proposal affecting New York City’s landmarks and historic districts and provides testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) whenever it is needed.

Please continue reading for our testimony regarding the latest items under consideration by the Commission. We invite you to visit the [email protected] blog for an archive containing all of our past testimony.

Item 2

1003 Sterling Place – Crown Heights North Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #2007323

A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by Axel S. Hedman and built c. 1899. Application is to construct a porch.

Architect: Jarek Tresko Architect, LLC

Historic bay windows are characteristic and significant features of the rears of this block of Sterling Place. The proposed porch realistically is an extension which adheres itself to the bay, obscuring an attractive architectural feature. While well executed, this may serve as a bad precedent for the next intervention to this rear façade and it merits serious deliberation from the Commissioner if this is a façade design that should be encouraged.

LPC determination: Approved

The applicant stated that the preservation of both the bay and a non-visible stained glass window drove much of the design for this screened porch. In response to HDC’s testimony, Commissioner Bland said, “If Kelly Carroll is still listening, I think this should be a precedent for all screened porches to be done this sensitively. It’s laudable.” All Commissioners agreed with his sentiment and the application was approved unanimously.


Item 6

1162 Broadway – Madison Square North Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #2005494

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

Architect: Morris Adjmi Architects

HDC would like to state for the record that we supported the design of this new building when first heard in 2013, finding “its fine materials and… [design] nicely blends into the context of the Madison Square North Historic District while subtly expressing its modernity”. The proposed design changes to this new building are appropriate, but the rooftop mechanical plan needs revisions. As proposed, the water tanks read as prominent bulk atop this building and should be lowered.

 

LPC determination: Approved

The applicant replied to HDC’s comment about the height of the water towers and explained, “the previous design had water towers on curbs, but DOB required dunnage that was six feet tall. Overall, the towers are only 4 feet taller now than previously proposed since the building itself was lowered 2 feet…I think that water towers are an iconic New York thing.” Commissioners were not bothered by any of the design changes or the water towers on the roof, agreeing that water towers’ visibility is a hallmark of New York City.


Item 8

1109 Fifth Avenue – Felix Warburg Mansion ‐ Expanded Carnegie Hill Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #2002758

A Francois I (Chateauesque) style mansion designed by C.P.H. Gilbert and built in 1907‐09; with a museum wing addition to the north of the mansion designed by Roche, Dinkeloo & Associates and built in 1988‐93. Application is to install temporary signage.

Architect: Walter B. Melvin Architects, LLC

Albeit a temporary installation, HDC opposes the proposed signage on this C.P.H. Gilbert and Roche-Dinkeloo hybrid masterpiece. The applicant furnished the 2007 art/signage installation on the former Whitney Museum as a precedent. HDC agrees that the Whitney installation was successful, as the artwork did not diminish the façade or architecture of the building. However, what worked on a Modern building does not translate to a Chateauesque-style one. The proposed signage obscures a majority of the façade and is over-scaled. Smaller signage and utilization of the existing flagpole should be explored as an alternative.

LPC determination: Approved

There was much heart-felt testimony from the art and museum worlds about the importance of public art during a time when the public cannot access institutions. However, the Commission noted that this issue is not in their purview. After a robust discussion about the engineering of of how this art will be attached to the building, Chair Carroll noted that, “this has been an interesting discussion about art, the public realm and our current times. At this point we have a consensus to approve it as long as the artwork is installed only into mortar joints for the 4 month period it is being applied for.”

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