Left to right: Map showing portion of the Sheridan Expressway affected by the report; Moses-era map showing portion of the highway that was never built; map showing proposed changes.
Rory Scott reports for Archdaily.
[Image Courtesy of Architecture Research Office]
In this article on Fast Company, seven leading architects in the field of designing for disaster – including Peter Gluck, Michael Manfredi, and principals of James Corner Field Operations and Snøhetta – give their take on what lessons Hurricane Sandy, one year on, has taught us. Their responses raise a number of issues, but above all share one common theme: urgency. Aside from denouncing what he sees as “architects being ambulance chasers,” Peter Gluck, Head of Gluck+, advocates designing buildings with disaster in mind, for example raising a building of the ground or placing less important functions on the ground floor, so that the damage by a flood is restricted. Advocating multiple systems to deal with problems like flooding, Michael Manfredi of Weiss/Manfredi describes their Olympia Fields project, where they built water retention into the design. Much of Weiss/Manfredi’s work makes use of ‘soft infrastructure’ which absorbs water and energy to reduce the impact of storms. However, Lisa Switkin, associate principal at James Corner Field Operations seems to be in support of a combination of this green infrastructure and traditional storm protection, arguing that wetlands, beaches, dunes and parklands should be used “in addition to raising key infrastructure and utilities.” Principal of Snøhetta Craig Dykers brings in an interesting spin, mentioning not just design, but the education of residents, who could be given incentives to design their homes and gardens in a way that minimize storm impact. He supports small scale solutions in general, saying that “grand and sometimes epic conceptual thinking is useful, but it should be balanced with immediacy.” This thought is echoed by Diana Balmori of Balmori Associates, who advocates “nature based systems” that can be implemented quickly and cheaply, and also by the founder of publicinterestdesign.org John Cary. Cary criticizes “the proliferation of design competitions and contests” that appear after these disasters, saying they “don’t address or engage with the real needs on the ground.” Once again, realistic and immediate solutions are the order of the day. Stephen Cassell, a principal at Architecture Research Office believes architects need to think more often and more practically about how their buildings perform in disasters. Elements such as opening windows and escape routes are all small things that can help occupants in a storm. All seven responses see the design of these systems as an urgent problem, presenting realistic, realizable solutions over expensive or outlandish proposals. You can read the original Fast Company article here.
the team replaced some 70.000 pieces of deteriorated terra cotta (left) with the gfrc product (right), which could be used to mass-produce repetitive decorative elements.
the thin-shell replicas were bolted back to a new masonry structure, with soft joints between the new masonry and original schist.
Evan Bindelglass reports for New York Yimby: Landmarks Approves 16-story building for 8-10 West 17th Street.
On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission gave the okay to demolish the existing building at 8-10 West 17th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues) and construct a new one in its place.
The existing building, designed by Belfatto & Pavarini, is three-stories-tall and home to the Catholic Medical Mission Board, but is no longer adequate for them. The new building is being developed by Sherwood Equities and Arun Bhatia Development, with Richard Southwick of the preservation architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle as designer. Southwick called his design “contemporary,” yet “sympathetic” to its neighbors. The new as-of-right building will be 16-stories-tall, with the top two floors being a duplex penthouse. The penthouse will be setback 15 feet in the front and zoning requires that it also be set back 10 feet in the rear. It will be 174 feet to the top of the penthouse, but a total of 208 feet to the top of the rooftop mechanical unit. When it came time for the commissioners to decide on the project, a lot of time was spent on the current building. Commissioner Roberta Washington said it was “not as distinctive” as some of the architects’ other work, but it was “not ugly.” Commissioner Diana Chapin echoed that, saying it was “not such a notable example.” Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called it “fairly plain” and said it was not the type of building the Ladies Mile Historic District was created to protect. Commissioner Michael Goldblum had no problem with the demolition, but said he was happy to see an in-depth discussion of it. In the end, they decided it was fine to demolish the building. When it came time for them to discuss the proposed new building, little time was necessary. Srinivasan called the new building “sedate” and said it will “enrich the district.” Goldblum encouraged future applicants to go above and beyond Tuesday’s proposal, but called it “completely appropriate.” The proposal was approved unanimously. The texture of the screen over the mechanical units will, however, be refined at the LPC staff level.
The Historic Districts Council also approved of the demolition. “8-10 West 17th Street appeared in pallor compared to the examples provided of the fanciful Ladies Mile-quality buildings in the district,” HDC’s Kelly Carroll said. “Further, it is demonstrated that this building is not a colleague among the urbane, Modern buildings completed by architects Belfatto and Pavarini.” Carroll did add that the “design for the new building left something to be desired.”
The project got the support of Community Board 5 and the Real Estate Board of New York. The New York Landmarks Conservancy also backed the demolition. A resident of 12 West 17th Street complained about the expenses his building has incurred to maintain the lot line windows. The counsel for the LPC said that while buildings in historic districts are required to maintain their lot line windows, there is no expectation that their existence should continue in perpetuity. The project team said people with lot line windows are enjoying them on “borrowed time.”
Evan Bindelglass reports for Curbed: Extell's 16-Story Park Ave. Building Fails to impress Landmarks.
Previously on an extended-length episode of the Adventures of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, a plan was presented to replace the existing rectory and parish hall building next to the Park Avenue Christian Church with a 16-story mixed-use condo building. It took three hours and left us with a cliffhanger. Well, the plan came back and has now lost its first round at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The plan from developer Gary Barnett's Extell Development Company and architect John Beyer of Beyer Blinder Belle did not pass muster at Tuesday's hearing of the LPC. To quickly recap, the church, along with a rectory to the south, was built in 1911.
The rectory and parish hall were heavily modified, including extensive infill, in 1960. The church says it is in financial hardship and can't afford to perform necessary maintenance and restoration. Enter Barnett, with his 16-story building, as savior. The church fully supports this and would reportedly receive $24.7 million from Extell. This time, attorney Paul Silver picked up the presentation and responded to those who say that, contrary to the Park Avenue Historic District designation report, the annex should be designated as having "style" (shorthand for a definable architectural style). He said what is there now is a "pastiche" and that "features don't make a style." Beyer then picked up the presentation, to respond to the concerns expressed before the hearing was adjourned last time. He started with the height, saying that the proposed height is a mediation between the neighboring buildings, which are both pre-war and post-war. He noted that many houses of worship have apartment building neighbors. He moved on to the northern façade, which was criticized for being too bold.
Though he said he and his team didn't want to, he presented a rendering of a simplified northern façade, to the delight of many at the commissioners' table. Next was the streetwall and existing annex façade. He showed a series of illustrations (which he made clear were not a formal proposal) that showed the existing façade left in place with the apartment building set back 20 feet, which would require more than just the LPC's approval. He addressed the views from the south and noted the windows of the church aren't seen now. The "not a proposal" illustration does reveal slightly more stonework. On the subject of natural light streaming into the church, he said little gets in today anyway. As for the fenestration, he once again used the word "mediation." He pointed out that the pre-war building to the south has about 30 percent glass coverage and the post-war building to the north has about 50 percent glass coverage, whereas the proposed building for 1010 Park Avenue would have about 40 percent glass coverage. His final topic was the new ADA entrance.
The previous proposal was for a new entrance on 85th Street connected to a lift, which would allow people to then make their way to the main entrance and enter the sanctuary with other parishioners. Beyer presented alternatives, including a ramp to the existing 85th Street corner entrance, entry through the rear of the building and entering near the front of the sanctuary, and entry through the new building. Commissioner Michael Goldblum said he preferred the ramp alternative. He said the proposal would irreparably alter the building and pointed to how frequently lifts break down. He said that a ramp wouldn't damage the building and if changes were needed down the road, they would be easy to make.
There was a lot of back and forth among the commissioners about the merits of the existing annex façade. Commissioner Michael Goldblum believed that if the church hadn't cared about at least the feeling of a campus, they wouldn't haveset back the infill in 1960. Others also voiced support for keeping at least the façade of the annex. There was discussion of setbacks and recesses to accomplish this, as well as some retention of the dimensionality of the current buildings' relationships. Most accepted that the idea of a streetwall building is fine and the way Park Avenue is intended, but that it might be possible to accomplish the above within that confine.
Most didn't seem too opposed to the height, but Commissioner Roberta Washington was among those who wanted it reduced. Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron indicated that an even taller building could be allowed if it was set back to accommodate retention of the annex façade. In the end, chair Meenakshi Srinivasan asked that the team explore lowering the height, retaining the existing façade, and keeping some or all of the 3D quality of the relationship of the buildings to each other.
That leaves us where "Back to the Future, Part II" left movie audiences: to be concluded… For more images click here.
Christopher Gray reports for The New York Times: The Courthouse That Escaped the Gavel. The Preservation of Greenwich Village’s Jefferson Market Courthouse.
The 1877 Jefferson Market Courthouse, as it appeared in 1906. Once considered dispensable, it is today a public library.
Preservationists of the 1950s who sought to save the Jefferson Market Courthouse of 1877 had no landmarks law to back them up. They labored on the romantic Victorian’s behalf for almost 10 years, inventing strategy and recruiting allies as they went along.
The delicate, multicolored tower at the Avenue of the Americas and 10th Street is hard to look at now with fresh eyes, but for those just discovering New York’s history in the mid-20th century, it was manna — a wild, competing series of masses, materials and colors, one loud “Look at me!” statement.
The super-High Victorian Gothic courthouse, designed by Frederick Clarke Withers, escaped demolition in 1910 when the planner Charles R.Lamb suggested clearing out the cobweb of streets in the West Village to create a new court center. Like many grand visionary ideas, this one sank like a stone.
The courthouse was next to a public market and a jail, both demolished in the 1920s for the Art Deco Women’s House of Detention, which by the ’50s was known for the inmates shouting out the windows at husbands, boyfriends and passers-by. For people who lived within half a block, this didn’t disturb the peace; it destroyed it. Neighbors clamored for its destruction.
The taint of the House of Detention, a crisp although hardly surpassing structure, clung to the courthouse, even though by the 1950s it was a civil defense office. So in 1956, when the architect Vito P. Battistaestimated the cost of converting the House of Detention into something else, he also included the price tag for redoing the courthouse — astronomical, he said. In that year the stars began to align in favor of the courthouse’s demolition. Its proximity to the House of Detention, and the lack of a plan for its reuse, would seem a death knell for any preservation project.
But the same year The New Yorker seemed to chime in for saving it, calling the courthouse “a dingy, invincibly romantic confection” and lamenting that “this is a city notoriously careless of what it possesses.” But the magazine acknowledged the typical mid-20th-century point of view that the building was “a comic blunder.”
Into this fray came Edgar T. Hussey, the president of the West Side Savings Bank, who proposed in 1958 clear-cutting the site for an apartment house, a 500-seat theater and a community center. The Village Independent Democrats were on a similar page, proposing an art center with a large plaza in 1959.
Evan Bindelglass reports for Curbed: Opponents Lambast Plan To Replace Parts of Park Ave. Church.
The word "epic" definitely applied to yesterday's meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The case at hand: prolific developer Extell's plan to replace the Park Avenue Christian Church's rectory and parish hall with a 16-story mixed-use apartment building, using some money from the development to fund an endowment to restore the church's sanctuary. (How on trend of them, converting a site from religious to residential.)
The hearing over the proposal took three hours because a whopping 38 people delivered public testimony, mostly against the design. By the time everyone finished airing opinions, it was so late that the commissioners' discussion and any subsequent decision had to be tabled for a future session.
The Park Avenue Christian Church (then known as the South Church or South Reformed Dutch Church) was designed by Bertram Goodhue of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson and completed at the southwest corner of Park Avenue and East 85th Street, along with a rectory and parish hall to the south along the avenue, in 1911. In 1963, the rectory and parish hall were heavily modified and in-filled, leaving only a small portion of the original rectory façade in place.
Now the church, which boasts a lovely sanctuary inspired by Saint-Chapelle in Paris along with an attic festooned with Guastavino tile, needs some TLC, but says it doesn't have the money for it. So, they entered into a deal with Gary Barnett's Extell Development Company to demolish the parish hall and rectory, replacing them with the aforementioned 16-story building, which would have several floors devoted to the church and the rest as apartments (probably condos). The site is located in the Park Avenue Historic District, which was designated in April of this year, and that is why this proposal has to pass muster before the LPC. When the district was designated, the buildings in question were determined to have no architectural style.
Whatever people think of the current design, courtesy of historically sensitive superstars Beyer Blinder Belle, everyone has to admit that it's far, far better than a previous iteration, which was much larger and showed a glassy, angular structure cantilevering over a significant portion of the church.
Following the counsel for the church and Pastor Alvin Jackson, architect John Beyer made his presentation about the design side of the project. The new tower would be limestone with a granite base and terra cotta cladding on the upper floors. The rear would be brick. There would also be a terrace on the rear of the building, which is a space currently occupied by the expanded parish hall. Beyer said a light well, built using fragments of the remaining rectory façade, will allow some light into the sanctuary, along with some artificial light.
He noted his design's "strong verticality" and said the stepping and setbacks complement the church. He said he was using a "neutral palette" and that a streetwall building was, in his mind, "mandatory." He also said that leaving the rectory façade fragment in place and integrating it into the building was not practical. In addition, a new ADA-compliant entrance would be constructed along the 85th Street side of the church.
Most of those who spoke in support of the project, a numerical minority, had a direct connection to the church, including Rabbi Ari Fridkis, whose Temple of Universal Judaism (Congregation Da'at Elohim) shares the sanctuary with the church. He gave it his "spiritual" and "ethical" blessing. Rick Bell, AIANY's executive director, praised the new building, the construction of new housing, and the streetwall design. Two Upper East Siders with no apparent direct connection to the church spoke of the project's "quality materials that will complement the stone of the church," said the church needs the development, questioned the need to preserve the church's supplementary buildings, and praised the new ADA entrance.
For many, preserving the parish hall was important. "While the damage has already been done as far as the building's designation is concerned, HDC would urge the LPC that this site's future begins with the preservation of the building which is already there," the Historic Districts Council's Kelly Carroll said. Tara Kelly, executive director of the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, wants the "no style" designation of the parish hall re-evaluated and the district designation report amended, saying the hall and the church "together form a monumental complex." The church was recognized by the LPC as "Gothic Revival," and Kelly wants the same recognition for the parish hall—and wants it integrated into any new construction.
Preservation architect Robert Bates of Walter B. Melvin Architects also said the parish hall should be deemed to have a style. A spokesperson delivering a joint statement from State Senator Liz Krueger and City Councilman Daniel Garodnick said the parish hall alterations were "rather sensitive" and neither of them were "able to discern any change when shown before and after pictures." One speaker opposed to the demolition said "our history is our future," and another said demolition would be "contrary to every principle of landmark preservation." One Upper East Side resident said the proposal asks the community to "split the baby."
For some, the size of the new building was the issue that loomed the largest; they called for a lower height and reduced massing overall. Latha Thompson, district manager for Community Board 8, delivered their 36-8 vote against the project. She said it was too big and diminished the church. A speaker named Mark Goldstein, who really talked down to the commissioners, called for a smaller building, but did so as a direct dig at Extell's Barnett, saying he would have no sympathy for him if he made a little less money off of this development.
Still on the size issue, HDC's Carroll called for at least a 12-foot separation between the church and the new building and the removal of the penthouse, which would allow more light in. Another issue was design. Some felt it was appropriate, and played nicely with the church's. Others were less enamored. HDC's Carroll found "the design creative and the materials laudable, but assembled in a peculiar style recognized by our committee as 'Gotham Gothic,' a cartoonist version of Art Deco skyscrapers best suited to animation, not the real world of Park Avenue." Friends of the Upper East Side's Kelly echoed that, calling the design "too angular and vertical in style" and adding that the crown was more evocative of an Art Deco office tower than the site's Revivalist neighbors. She pointed out that the district has only one Art Deco building, at 944 Park Avenue.
Not all of the commissioners made it through the three-hour-long hearing. It's worth noting that, with the exception of chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, all of the commissioners are unpaid for their public service. So, at about 5:45 p.m., Srinivasan realized that no decision could be made. She tasked the project's team to come back, ready to pick up with responses to the testimony and the following issues: incorporating a fragment of the remaining original rectory façade, the building's height, its setbacks, light issues, windows, and the way the views of the church would be affected.
Her request doesn't necessitate a re-design as the discussion will basically pick up where it left off. That means that after the project team provides some answers (or rebuttals), the commissioners will deliberate and decide whether to approve the project. Srinivasan said the written record will remain open for two weeks. If anyone wants to submit something, contact the LPC.
To see more images of the project click here.