Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

[email protected] Testimony: May 22, 2012

Item 11
125412- Block 220, lot 35-
46 Laight Street – TriBeCa North Historic District
An Italianate style tenement building designed by William H. Waring and built in 1874. Application is to replace ground floor infill installed in non-compliance with LPC permits, perform alterations at the roof level, and legalize the installation of air-conditioning equipment without LPC permits.

HDC finds that rooftop elements such as the chimney and air conditioning units compound the problem of a lot of visible additions to the top of 46 Laight Street.  The large, bulky chimney could probably be replaced by a much less prominent exposed flue.  Some room on the very large deck could be dedicated to screened air conditioning units rather than putting the equipment on top of the addition in order to decrease its visibility.

LPC determination:  approved with modifications


Item 2
131248- Block 20, lot 12-
185 Plymouth Street, aka 60 John Street – DUMBO Historic District
A stable and storage building built c.1900. Application is to construct additions, modify window and ground floor openings, alter sidewalk, install storefront infill, a canopy and signage.

With simple, straightforward structures like this c.1900 stable and storage building seemingly minor changes can have big impacts.  This proposal for 185 Plymouth Street/60 John Street includes a number of alterations, not all of them minor.

The proposed ground floor openings and infill provide a random appearance in design and materials, one that is not backed up by any historic photos or other documentation.  HDC finds more attention should be paid to how the elements of the base relate to each other and to the floors above to help give the building a more unified feeling.

HDC does not see the need to extend the windows openings.  They are of a sufficient size, and, with nothing of the historic first floor remaining and little other detail to this building, it would be more appropriate to leave the present openings.  There is also the question of the practicality of raising the heads of the top floor of windows.  The segmental arch detail would be a difficult one to reproduce in an existing wall.

While we understand the constraints of adding to the roof due to the necessary creation of the light well, HDC feels the proposed rooftop additions should be brought down in height.  If rooftop additions must be so large and visible, a more creative approach than the now cliché glass and metal box should be taken.  For example shapes that recall the industrial past such as the existing water tower framing that is to be removed could be incorporated.

More details on the “refurbished” historic paving on Plymouth Street are needed.  As the roadbed and sidewalk survey which is included in the designation report shows, paving is an important piece of DUMBO’s character.  While repairs may be necessary, we must be careful not to excessively clean up this aspect and provide an overly residential feel to this historically industrial area.

LPC determination:  no action


Item 13
130818- Block 588, lot 25-
304 Bleecker Street – Greenwich Village Historic District
A dwelling originally built in 1829, converted to commercial use, with a fourth floor added in the early 20th century. Application is to replace storefront infill and install lighting and signage.

While a lot of good work is being done to clean up 304 Bleecker Street, HDC questions the size of the signage and the amount of lighting fixtures.  Signage on the ground floor which only extended the length of the storefront opening, rather than the entire width of the building itself, would be more appropriate.  The two existing light fixtures should be sufficient to illuminate this storefront, and HDC asks that more not be added.

LPC determination:  approved


Item 15
130305- Block 574, lot 34-
20 West 11th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District
A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1844-45. Application is to replace windows.

While we are happy to see the divided light configuration remain the same, the artist studio atop 20 West 11th Street is a significant, prominent historic alteration on this north facing front façade, and HDC feels steel, not fiber glass windows should be used.  There are now two manufacturers of thermally broken rolled steel windows that meet New York state energy codes, and HDC asks that these options be explored.

LPC determination:  approved


Item 17
128642- Block 474, lot 26-
38 Greene Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District
A transitional style store and warehouse building incorporating Italianate and French style details designed by Griffith Thomas and built in 1867. Application is to install storefront infill. Statement of the Historic

Item 18
128642- Block 474, lot 1-
42-50 Greene Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District
A French Renaissance style store and warehouse building designed by Griffith Thomas and built in 1869; and a neo-Grec style store and warehouse building constructed in 1860. Application is to establish a Master Plan governing the future installation of storefront infill.

HDC is glad to see this stretch of Greene Street cleaned up, but it might be too much at the base.  We find the minimalist approach taken to the storefront infill at numbers 38 through 50 to be out of place with the rich detailing of the floors above.   The remaining paneled doors on the existing storefronts, similar to those seen in the tax photos, should be used as a guide for storefront infill, particularly at the entrances.  We also question the use of white paint on the base of dark buildings.  HDC feels a darker color more closely matching the upper floors, in addition to being more practical, would be more historically accurate.

LPC determination:  No action


Item 1
130953- Block 10311, lot 46-
114-45 179th Street – Addisleigh Park Historic District
A free-standing Colonial Revival style house designed by Gustave B. Miller and built in 1922. Application is to replace a door.

This is the first Certificate of Appropriateness application for Addisleigh Park, and it is important to make sure this beautiful historic district gets off on right note.  HDC finds the proposed double doors with their rather Victorian design are not appropriate to this Colonial Revival style house.  We question whether the double doors would fit in this opening, and, regardless of that point, their installation would require the removal of the side lights which are listed in the Designation Report as significant historical features.  There are Colonial Revival style doors throughout the neighborhood that can be used as good examples instead.  If the owner has the original drawings for the house, as he states, it would be wonderful to use that as the guide.

LPC determination:  no action


Public Meeting Item 2
130491- Block 179, lot 51,52-
15 Leonard Street aka 11-13 Leonard Street – TriBeCa West Historic District
An early 20th century commercial style industrial workshop designed by Charles Goldman and built in 1924. Application is to demolish the existing building and to construct a new building

HDC finds both the size and design of the proposed new construction to be out of keeping with the historic district in general and this block of Leonard Street in particular.

Like much of historic TriBeCa, the neighboring buildings are very formal in their coherent fenestration.  From their bases to the top of the building, the floors stack in a pattern acknowledging one another.  These are handsome, straightforward buildings which can be easily recognized as belonging in TriBeca.  In an unfortunate contrast, the offset panels of the busy fenestration proposed feel too jumbled.  The horizontal divisions of the base with the vertical channel glass of the upper floors further emphasizes the disjointed appearance.

The number of garages at the base are inappropriate for a building of this size in this historic district, not to mention that they would contribute little to the streetscape.  To claim that early-20th century garages are not important to the district’s character and then replace them with a building whose base  is primarily composed of garage doors makes little sense.  The large glass and metal awnings at every bay also bear no resemblance to anything else on the block and seem unnecessary.

As the commissioners often comment, the penthouse of a new building should be designed as part of a new building and not resemble a rooftop addition (in this case it would be one that is too large and too visible.)  The penthouse’s horizontal detailing, like that at the base, leaves little way for it to relate with the verticality of the rest of the building.

Finally, HDC objects to the proposed height.  As others will testify in greater detail, it is taller than the 2009 approved building and considerably taller than other recent LPC approvals for new buildings in the district.

LPC determination:  no action

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